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Old 02-24-2008, 11:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Tag Teaming Vehicles - using the right one

Hey all!

I am a big believer in using the right tool for the right job.

If you need to commute back and forth many miles by yourself, an economy car is your best bet.

If you need to haul things, a pickup truck would be better, but not one that is overkill.

If you have special things you want to do with a vehicle, but only on rare occasions, maybe renting or borrowing from a friend would be best.

Since most families have more than one car, doesn't it make sense for those two vehicles to be very different from one another, so that whichever is more advantageous could be used?


I am thinking that for my wife and I, the ideal car transportation might be an inexpensive electric car for local trips and communting and a small diesel pickup truck.

The truck would be used for moving mulch and building supplies, transporting the motorcycle, pulling the camping trailer, and longer range trips. The diesel engine could be run on biodiesel or converted to veggie oil.

Each of the vehicles would compliment the other.

Contrast this to a large SUV, which is designed to be "all things to all people". It can do a lot of things, but suffers from higher initial cost, and constantly carrying more weight and fuel usage.

I saw a diesel Rabbit pickup for sale a while back cheap! Got gobbled up by someone else way too fast! I didn't even have a chance of getting it!

Any other comments on "using the right vehicle"?

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Old 02-24-2008, 02:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quite true Frank Lee.

I myself used this logic when I shopped for my Matrix I picked up this past spring. We previously had a 1996 Toyota Tercel that my wife drove. Anticipating greater spacial needs (kids) and karting around our 2 door car loving friends, we went with the Matrix. The traceoff has been about 3-4 mpg less, tons more space, and a great car to kart people around in. I have the Paseo around as my daily drive since I have a 35 mile one way commute to deal with. Its 40+ mpg is tolerable. I'd love an Insight, however, its just not in the budget. These two cars get pretty good mileage (amazing mileage to most), and suit every need we've ever had. I can't imagine buying something bigger and more wasteful.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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This is why we own a bunch of Hatchbacks, I haul tools around most of the time, have hauled 8 foot long lumber, a compleat futon and frame, 2 bicycles, and all kinds of other things all with the hatch closed!
I also have a trailer hitch and feel ok towing small trailers, the largest being a light weight 16 foot long flat bed at about 20mph.
when I need to haul more lumber or other stuff that a large truck is needed I barrow one from my parents or boss, in nice weather I get the scooter or motorcycle out.
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Old 02-25-2008, 03:19 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I think my ideal lineup would be a big diesel pickup@20-30mpg on WVO, my smaller gas pickup@35-45mpg, my hatchback@70-90mpg on WVO, my 4d gas sedan@40-50mpg, another smaller 4d gas sedan@60-70mpg, a tube frame twin engine'd vehicle@80-100mpg on WVO, a small and large displacement motorcycle, some bicycles.... Er...

I think I have a problem.
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:54 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Don't forget the gigantic garage!
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Old 02-25-2008, 07:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The idea of the right tool for the job is completely logical until you realize that for each additional “tool” you are signing up for another $500/mo payment. Sure, an Insight/Prius for the daily commute, a F350 for hauling stuff and a van for hauling the tribe makes perfect sense but if you were wealthy to carry $2,000 in vehicle payments, why worry? Going 'used' only reduces the magnitude. but not the general principle.

The economically elegant solution is the compromise vehicle that fulfills all the common missions. Maybe my parents weren’t wrong. The family chromium bulldozer – A Chevy Impala – hauled the tribe, pulled a good –sized trailer, and was an acceptable commuter. All on one payment.
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:35 PM   #7 (permalink)
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They used to call that all-purpose vehicle a station wagon.

I still think hatchbacks are one of the THE BEST all-purpose vehicles out there!

There is a diminishing return on owning more vehicles. Having 10 different vehicles to do 10 different things is NOT the way to go.

I was mostly thinking that most people have more than one vehicle, so why not have ones that compliment each other?



PS: I have NEVER financed any automobile. My current daily driver was bought for $100 cash. The pickup truck was bought for $1000 cash, and my wife still drives the car that her family generously got for her college graduation.
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Old 02-25-2008, 08:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I find it hard to argue the idea of say, two different and complementary cars for a working couple. In our case I drive 60 mi. to work and my wife drives about 10, each way. So she would drive the larger car and I would drive the smaller more FE one.

Is that what we're doing? Nope. Back in '95 we decided we like rear drive Volvo 240's and haven't bought anything else since. Now we're both in '89 wagons. Hers has a roof rack so will haul more stuff. I think we used the rack maybe four times so far. However my car does have all the FE mods, including the adjustments to the nut behind the wheel. So we've done well in that regard.

In many ways we're similar to the folks using two large pickups or SUVs per family because they haul something big occasionally, or take a large group somewhere. Are two big haulers really needed? Nope. But we do love these cars, not too different from the way some love their SUVs and pickups. But of course those don't get 25-30 mpg like ours do.

I do most of the work on our cars. Owning duplicates saves me from having to learn a whole new car. I stock one kind of oil, keep several oil filters and brake pads on hand, etc. We've bought five of these Volvos so far.

And, as tempted as I am to get a Civic or maybe a Paseo for my next car - - - I keep reminding myself that being on the road for 2-3 hours daily the extra protection of a heavier car could count for a lot. Just today I was in a game of 'chicken' with a truly big pickup that wanted to merge into my lane from an entry ramp. I don't think I'd have had the nerve if I were in a smaller car.
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Old 02-25-2008, 10:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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bennelson -

It depends (as usual). On the assumption that your wife works, I think the small commuter + larger vehicle is ok if you can combine the commute to your respective jobs. If you can't combine the trips (I can't), then I think two small cars and a trailer hitch make more sense.

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Old 02-25-2008, 10:39 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
There is a diminishing return on owning more vehicles. Having 10 different vehicles to do 10 different things is NOT the way to go.
It ain't ten different things, but having something for heavy hauling, light hauling (both people and stuff), city, highway, traffic, and backups... is where it's at IMO. Look at it this way, given the low cost of used vehicles, spending an extra grand on one can save that much if another one needs to go for repairs. Since insurance can be had in month increments, that's no problem, and since reg is so damn cheap, that ain't much of an issue, not that they all have to be registered at once either.

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