Ask Bark: How To Quench My Vehicular Wanderlust?

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

James writes:

I seem to find myself in an endless car-buying cycle of “I’ll finally be content if I buy X car”; get said car, get a year into ownership and dammit — I want a different car! Buyers remorse at its finest.

I don’t know what it is when it comes to cars, but I seem to have this blind spot for knowing what the heck I really want in the car, unlike everything else in life. Sigh.

I’ll spare you the full automotive history, but I have currently had a 2015 Honda Accord Coupe with the CVT for a little over a year. It’s a great car and overall I’m pretty happy with it, but after years of following various car blogs, I’ve had the itch to learn to drive a manual transmission.

This year, coming up on my 30th birthday, I purchased a $500 Saturn SL to learn the three-pedal dance. Its been a splendid experience — I spent a month or so underneath the car making it roadworthy with my father-in-law, finally understood what all those car articles were talking about with the manuals’ involvement, taught my wife and my brother to drive it and developed a new appreciation for how much car you can get for the money. Now the time has come for me to sell the Saturn and it has got me thinking about trading in the Accord for a car with a manual as my daily driver. My first thought when I had a buyer contact me to inquire about the Saturn was that of sadness. “Oh crap, I’m not going to be able to drive stick any more.”

A bit of research revealed that the amount I’d owe on my loan if I were to sell the Accord now would be a little under $2k. I’d prefer not to take a loss on selling it, so I may need to wait a year or so. If I were to buy something else, I’d prefer not to start over on financing a new car, so I’d be looking at buying something used at or below $20k CAD that I could daily drive but still be fun with a manual. I don’t have any kids and my wife has a Forester, so size isn’t really a concern. I’d like it not to break the bank on ownership and fuel costs either.

What would you do given my situation Bark? Learn to love what I got or buy a manual and hopefully break the cycle of car buying remorse with the manual transmission?

One question remains unanswered for me — why has the time come to sell the Saturn? Is it just not working anymore? Bored with it? Because it seems like you’re enjoying the heck out of it, and I’m not entirely sure why you want to get rid of it.

However, for the purposes of my answer, let’s assume that you have a very good reason for selling. That being said, I would strongly recommend against rolling over negative equity. Normally I’m not the guy who’s super concerned with being fiscally responsible, but it’s hard to justify doing so unless you’re getting crushed on your current loan at 10 percent or something and you can roll over the negative equity into a much better loan.

But here’s my guess. I’m guessing you’re somewhat like me, and that you’ll always have a bit of a wandering eye when it comes to cars. And if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that people don’t really change — if you’re waiting for an adult to make a massive behavioral shift, you’ll be waiting a long time. It typically takes me about 18 months to get bored with what I’ve got and to start thinking about what I want next. The answer to this?

Why, it’s the 24-month lease, of course! Is it the financially smartest thing to do? Well, for me it is. I have the opportunity to write off much of my lease against my 1099 income. Not everybody can.

But even if it’s not the smartest thing to do financially, it can give you the opportunity to get a new car nearly every time that you’re tired of your current one. Sure, you’ll always have a car payment, but you’ll also always have a new car. You have to decide how much money that’s worth to you.

What would Bark do? I’d wait until I were even up in my Accord, and go lease hunting for something like a Focus ST to quench my thirst for manual goodness. And that’s what I think you should do, too.

Bark M. thinks that everybody should buy new cars all the time. Unless they shouldn’t. Which one are you? Write to him and find out! Or just follow him on the Social Media. It’s what all the kids are doing.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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2 of 42 comments
  • 05lgt 05lgt on Oct 04, 2016

    Miata. It's a daily driver for one to two occupants with an upside down buyout. Older Miata. If the FIL approves and continues to mentor on the repairs/maintenance it could gain value. That way when you wander next you don't get lost in debt. Might need to accelerate the paydown to get ahead of a 72 month loan for a while.

  • Ninjacommuter Ninjacommuter on Oct 05, 2016

    Sportbike. My bought-new 2009 Ninja still scratches the itch, is stupid-cheap to operate, is a "stick", and has no depreciation at this point (37k miles). I would avoid buying a used sportbike, however, due mainly to operating history questions.

  • Redapple2 34 yr in Michigan salt?
  • Mike-NB2 Zero. Not interested at all. I often don't have my phone with me, and if I do, I completely ignore it. Unless it were to catch fire, of course. But I'm old, so that has to be taken into account too.
  • Urlik It’s only important to me for navigation. OEM’s do Nav all wrong and charge for the privilege. While once they charged big money for map updates, they charge subscriptions for the privilege of a worse Nav than you have on your phone.The other stuff mirroring brings is mere gravy.
  • Rna65689660 Zero interest
  • Redapple2 1- bad quality reputation and dealer horror stories make a VW purchase not happening.2- 1.5 turbo in my driveway is something I d be leery of every hour of ownership.