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BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/18/17 10:12 p.m.

(Summary: We have my wife's newish 4 door Focus, and my old and not so reliable van.  Due to family life changes it would be nice if the roomy vehicle were also the newish reliable one.)

If our lives were the same as they were a year ago there would be no need for anything to change but... things do change. This past summer saw our family grow suddenly by two.  One of those two is an energetic dog and the other is an energetic six year old kid.  Having a baby in the next year isn't out of the question either.  No, I don't think we need three rows of seats just because we have a kid in the family but if a baby happens and then another down the line then space quickly becomes an issue.

We mostly like our 2012 Focus sedan.   It is efficient, comfortable, kinda fun, reliable, and completely paid for.  We don't love the dual clutch transmission but haven't experienced the issues that some owners have had.  Other cars in the driveway are my 96 Grand Caravan (old and rusty) that I bought cheap to drive around town through a couple winters and the B18 swapped Civic "racecar" project.  Right now everything is fine.  We all fit in the Focus for road trips and the old van is great for taking bikes and sleds and stuff to the park.  I wouldn't trust the van for long trips.

So far I see two options.

One, do nothing for now while saving up for a nicer family type vehicle.  Will the Focus even fit a rear facing carseat in back?  It would be tight regardless for the next couple years.  The longevity of the dual clutch trans is a concern.  How much $$ we could realistically save in a few years is also a question.  My wife has a different definition for "nicer and newish" than I do.  Her standards are higher cheeky

Two, sell Focus and purchase something of equivalent value that would last a long time and be more suitable to car seats and other family things.  We would do this soon before the Focus depreciates more than it already has.  This would let me eventually dump the old van and get a fun dad-mobile.  I like that idea.  Then this becomes a "what family car" thread.

Three, sell Focus, put some money into "fixing up" the old cars and put the rest into savings.  In a couple years when our student loans are paid for we might be in a better position to finance something new or lightly used.  My wife definitely doesn't like the idea of driving a 20+ year old vehicle everyday and we aren't sure that car payments are the way to go anyway.

Am I overthinking things?  Should I just stop and go to bed?  Probably.

logdog
logdog UltraDork
12/18/17 10:32 p.m.

Replace Focus and old minivan with one newer, wife approved minivan (mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy).  Bring Civic to your old buddy Logdog's for a weekend of wrenching.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezey!

skierd
skierd SuperDork
12/18/17 11:52 p.m.

Replace the minivan with something new(er) and in the same family truckster vein if and when a bun is in the oven. Why? Because going any sort of real distance in a Focus with three passengers, especially with one in a rear facing car seat, and a dog on a regular basis doesn’t sound like much fun at all. Nor does breaking down in a 22 year old caravan.

 

We’ve found that a three row SUV is really nice for the cargo space with the rear row folded down, and the cargo area makes a nice changing table compared to the back seat of a compact sedan or even the floor of a minivan. My wife loves her 2012 CX9 and they are cheap if thirsty.  But really you can make any full size sedan or midsize+ suv or minivan work.

I don’t see any good reason to get rid of the focus unless you are wanting to replace it otherwise.

 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
12/19/17 6:41 a.m.

Breaking down by yourself is inconvenient. Breaking down with kids and a dog suuuuuuuuks. The big advantage of having a minivan or the like as your proper reliable car is that they're insanely useful. The insides are relatively huge and they tow a modest utility trailer, so they do a great job of doing all the other dad type activities that need to be done. I moved from a MK1 Focus to a Volvo 245 to a first gen Odyssey to a crew cab truck. The Odyssey was the best family car by a long shot. 

STM317
STM317 Dork
12/19/17 7:29 a.m.

If what you currently have works, and everybody is happy then I'd say stick it out. If you guys get pregnant at some point in the future, then you'll have 9 months to shop for something that will fit your new needs (something with big back seats and a hatch)

FuzzWuzzy
FuzzWuzzy Reader
12/19/17 8:26 a.m.

Well the question I'd ask is, are you guys trying to have another kid or if it happens, it happens no biggie?

I'd dump the Focus for a Camry (slightly larger, still decent MPG, Toyota-reliability) or if wife is willing, a Sienna, and then dump the minivan for a dad-mobile that's still reliable to an extent.

Two reliable vehicles are always better than sort of one.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau Dork
12/19/17 8:40 a.m.

I agree with STM317, if your situation is working right now, I'd say no, it is not decision time yet. One kid and a dog is not too much for a Focus to handle, even on a road trip with the right planning and packing.

But two kids and a dog in a Focus is not gonna happen for a long road trip. It's decision time when/if you have another kid. In that case, I would sell the old van and buy a newer one. Make that your one, dead-nuts-reliable vehicle. Find one with the tow package, it will come with heavy-duty coolers to help with transmission reliability and then you can tow your project Civic and/or future project cars around. That, and this article convinced me minivans are cool.

Then you can decide what to do with the Focus. This may come naturally, depending on which car your wife decides is "hers". If she falls in love with the van, then the Focus is yours, and you can trade for a cooler dad-mobile. If she still identifies more with the Focus, then at least you still have your project Civic and something reliable to tow it with and haul parts around. Win-win.

If you stick with one kid, you can still sell the old van and get a cooler dad-mobile. 

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/19/17 3:53 p.m.
logdog said:

...mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy...

Truth.

Donebrokeit
Donebrokeit SuperDork
12/19/17 3:57 p.m.

CTS-V wagon.

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/19/17 4:11 p.m.

Selling the Focus would fund the purchase of a good mom-mobile since the other two vehicles aren't really worth anything.  In my mind better to do that sooner rather than later before the Focus loses value since it's a depreciating asset.  Or am I thinking about that wrong?

Wife's wants for a vehicle: heated seats, enough room for everyone, decent gas mileage, aux input for the stereo, and bonus if it's a fun color (hard to do with minivans, I know.)  She also likes the little display that tells her how many miles until the gas tank is empty cheeky

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
12/19/17 4:20 p.m.
Donebrokeit said:

CTS-V wagon.

R63, I know a guy.

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/19/17 4:29 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:
Donebrokeit said:

CTS-V wagon.

R63, I know a guy.

Only if the previous owner has rebuilt the engine with new head bolts cheeky I think I read something on the internet about that...

APEowner
APEowner HalfDork
12/19/17 4:49 p.m.
BlueInGreen44 said:

Selling the Focus would fund the purchase of a good mom-mobile since the other two vehicles aren't really worth anything.  In my mind better to do that sooner rather than later before the Focus loses value since it's a depreciating asset.  Or am I thinking about that wrong?

Wife's wants for a vehicle: heated seats, enough room for everyone, decent gas mileage, aux input for the stereo, and bonus if it's a fun color (hard to do with minivans, I know.)  She also likes the little display that tells her how many miles until the gas tank is empty cheeky

I suppose if you sell the Focus and buy something that was initially more expensive and is now closer to the bottom of the depreciation curve you might be able to claim that it's a win on the financial side but even that's a bit of a stretch.  Pretty much any daily driver type car is a depreciating asset.  You spend what you need, or want to get one as new and as nice as you feel you can justify but it's always going to cost you. 

If Momma wants a new or different car and you can afford it then by all means get one.  There's nothing wrong with that. 

Personally, I'd roll with what you've got for while.

octavious
octavious Dork
12/19/17 6:28 p.m.

Not sure of your financial status, but the only option I don’t see listed is, sell off the van, you get the focus, and she gets the new mom-mobile. 

 

But I would then also ask, are you changing because you “need” to?  Or are you changing because you/she “wants” to? 

 

 

LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
12/19/17 11:40 p.m.

In reply to maschinenbau :

What minivan is capable of towing a Civic? Their tow capacities are generally in the 2000-3500 lbs range aren’t they? Even with a small, aluminum trailer I’d think you’d probably max out the tow capacity ... and that’s before you add the weight of tires, tools, spares, passengers, etc. 

dropstep
dropstep SuperDork
12/19/17 11:50 p.m.

i guess ive never understood the need for a bigger vehicle for just 2 kids id keep the focus, but adding the dog in i guess your going to need at minimum a small suv, and everything they can do in daily life a minivan tends to do better. My twins are 9 now and have spent there entire childhood riding in the back of an 04 saturn ion, we tryed the minivan and my wife hated it compared to her car.

Brian
Brian UltraDork
12/20/17 12:29 a.m.

how big is the dog?  are we talking Chihuahua? or saint bernard?

Personally I'm all in favor of a newer minivan.  those 96-2000 chryslers were some of the worst built minivans ever produced.  Yes we had a couple (3 that I can think of) from that generation and they all had major issues.  The 01-07 has been better (4 of those) 08-up are good too. (currently 1 of them)  I wouldn't hesitate to get another one if the need arose.  I'm at the point in life where a minivan is no longer needed except for the occasional hauling job.  If the wife would let me downsize, I would.

STM317
STM317 Dork
12/20/17 4:54 a.m.
BlueInGreen44 said:

Selling the Focus would fund the purchase of a good mom-mobile since the other two vehicles aren't really worth anything.  In my mind better to do that sooner rather than later before the Focus loses value since it's a depreciating asset.  Or am I thinking about that wrong?

This comes down to whether you can save for a new vehicle faster than the Focus can depreciate or not. If the Focus is going to depreciate $1k in the next year or so, and you don't think you can save that much or more to offset the depreciation then it MIGHT make financial sense to upgrade now. Especially if you're concerned about the DCT potentially costing lots of money to repair soon. But, keep in mind that the whole point of this upgrade is to get a vehicle larger than the Focus, so it will likely get worse fuel economy. It's also likely to be newer, which will mean registration and insurance costs will increase too. So, you need to do some assessment of your situation and estimate saving for newer vehicle vs Focus depreciation, but consider that the new vehicle might cost more to own/operate during that time as well. Does your wife drive enough for 1 year of a 4-10mpg loss to matter? Will an extra couple of hundred $/year in registration and insurance make a difference?

I'd still argue that there's no need to spend money on an upgrade until the current fleet no longer meets your needs, or you have serious misgivings about the reliability of the Focus but YMMV and all of that.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
12/20/17 5:01 a.m.
BlueInGreen44 said:

Will the Focus even fit a rear facing carseat in back? 

 

Probably without issue.  Honestly, rear facing isn't the devil everyone thinks it is.  My son is 2.5 years old and his forward facing seat (with him in it) is more of a space constraint than the rear facing was. 

FWIW, I had a rear facing seat in my Saturn without issue.  You've had one of those... how do you think it compares to the Focus?  The Focus is a much larger car.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin PowerDork
12/20/17 5:09 a.m.
STM317 said:
If the Focus is going to depreciate $1k in the next year or so, and you don't think you can save that much or more to offset the depreciation then

 

If this is the case, you need to rethink your plans all together.  Sell the race car, extreme cost cutting, etc.

 

My vote is get a 10 year old minivan for less than the value of the focus.  Choose your poison.  Keep or get rid of your GC as needed.  

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
12/20/17 7:17 a.m.

The "good" decision is always to find reliable cars near the bottom of depreciation. It's almost always cheaper to drive something for five years from 10-15 rather than from 0-5. The only catch comes with increased maintenance and the possibility of catastrophic failure. There is also a bit of piece of mind having the newest generation of safety features. 

The R63 is the poster child for this. It was over $100k new. It lost an average of $7k in value a year to the original owner. Even with a significant failure I'm still doing better than that (probably) and had that not happened I'd be the smartest guy in the room by a long shot. The problem is that usually you can't let a car sit for 8 months while you install a lift and rebuild the engine, certainly not if it's the main family hauler. You could repeat this experiment with a $4k Honda Odyssey and a failed transmission for instance. You'd still be ahead, but you would have to deal with the logistics and expense of repair. My first Odyssey dropped the harmonic balancer after I paid someone to replace the timing belt and they didn't tighten things down. That left my 6 months pregnant wife 200 miles from home with a dead van. That wasn't cool. 

The real question is what are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to decrease the cost of the fleet? Increase the reliability of the fleet? Get yourselves in something bigger and more reliable? There isn't a single answer. I would sell you the R63 in a heartbeat, but it would be either the best or worst decision of your life. No in between. You feeling lucky? laugh

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/20/17 10:01 a.m.
ProDarwin said:
BlueInGreen44 said:

Will the Focus even fit a rear facing carseat in back? 

 

Probably without issue.  Honestly, rear facing isn't the devil everyone thinks it is.  My son is 2.5 years old and his forward facing seat (with him in it) is more of a space constraint than the rear facing was. 

FWIW, I had a rear facing seat in my Saturn without issue.  You've had one of those... how do you think it compares to the Focus?  The Focus is a much larger car.

To me the Focus doesn't feel that much bigger inside than the old Saturn or the Civic.  The seating position is higher and there is more trunk space, maybe some more interior room side to side too, but I think a lot of the exterior size increase doesn't translate to more space inside.  I think car seats would be fine back there while my wife thinks it's not enough space but this can be easily answered by borrowing baby seats from the neighbor for a test fit.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
12/20/17 11:19 a.m.

 breaking down in a 22 year old caravan.

Only 22? .... lightweights.. 

mazdeuce - Seth
mazdeuce - Seth Mod Squad
12/20/17 12:11 p.m.
Vigo said:

 breaking down in a 22 year old caravan.

Only 22? .... lightweights.. 

You have something like 31 spare cars. You're playing a different game. smiley

BlueInGreen44
BlueInGreen44 SuperDork
12/20/17 12:13 p.m.
mazdeuce - Seth said:
Vigo said:

 breaking down in a 22 year old caravan.

Only 22? .... lightweights.. 

You have something like 31 spare cars. You're playing a different game. smiley

Ha. And life is different in the land of road salt and rust.

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