Friday, November 19, 2010

The Car Conundrum (UPDATED)

I'm in a bit of a quandry, transportation-wise.  I have a car, a teeny tiny car.  I kind of like my teeny tiny car, but it has some problems now, and it's just a bit too teeny tiny.  My car has developed brake problems, a mysterious short that causes the blower to not always blow, the daytime running lights have quit working (no matter how many times I've taken it to the shop - or how much I've had to pay there) and other issues that make me feel like I'm not quite as safe as I'd like to be when I'm on the road.  Of course, car problems aside, I don't think I'll ever feel safe in that teeny tiny car again ever since that semi almost squished me a while back.  Apparently, my car was too teeny tiny to be seen.

Anyway, my car has been to the shop, and fixing all the things wrong with it is going to be expensive.  More expensive than is worth sinking into this car (that was the mechanic's honest opinion).

Another problem with my teeny tiny car is that my son is friends with a bunch of giants.  Seriously.  Although Jamie is the oldest of his friends, he's the smallest.  His BFFs all tower over him.  Wm, Sp and B are all several inches taller than he is.  Sp is nearly a foot taller!  Also, most of his friends outweigh him by a huge amount - not hard to do when you are a toothpick, like my son.  So, getting all these guys together to do something is nearly impossible, unless their parents drop them off.  It is very uncomfortable for all the boys when it is my turn on after-school pick-up days.  Also, almost all his BFFs are in the same clubs he is in, and these clubs involve traveling with multiple kids in the car to different locations, some hours and hours away.  These clubs do not always have the funds to get buses for the trips, so parents step in and transport the kids.  I'm thinking specifically of upcoming trips to Austin and Houston that I know will require multiple kids and ROBOTS in my car at the same time.  We did that a month ago, where I had to transport three (or was it four?) boys and a robot only across town and I thought the car would burst at the seams. Not to mention if we had had an accident, the boys in the back would have had robot parts up their noses and in their nether regions. 

There's another option, but I'm torn about this.  I have found another car I like.  Heck, actually I love it.  It's  the modern version of a station wagon.  It's a 2010 Kia Rondo, only has 11K miles on it, is still covered under factory warranty, has seating for 7 plus cargo room, has much better safety features than my car, and is big enough that I won't feel like a bug about to be squished every time I drive down the road.  Plus, everything on it works!  No brake issues, no blower issues, imagine that!  This vehicle has been discontinued in the US (the 2010 is the last model year being sold in the US), but parts will still be available for a long time to come, according to Kia.  The big thing I'm torn about is the price.  It will increase my monthly car payment by about $80, and will (of course) be a little more expensive to fill up at the pump (it gets about 4 mpg less than my current car).  Also, my car insurance will go up by about $17 a month.  My financing has already been approved, I just need to make a down payment on it of $500, plus whatever negative equity I owe from my current car (I'm still making payments on it).  It won't be much, I think.  I won't know the actual number until the dealer does an inspection on it.

What are your opinions on this issue?  I'm really torn about this.  Your advice is welcome (and badly needed!).

UPDATE:  I called the dealer and cancelled the Kia.  Despite the fact that I have never quite seen myself as a minivan mom, I'm now looking at one - specifically, a 2006 Saturn Relay 2, with 41K miles, the same mpgs as the Kia, not as many safety features as the Kia (but better than what I currently have), a 100K mile bumper to bumper warranty w/a $200 deductible ($150 if I take it to the dealer's national chain of locations), seating for 7, lots of cubby holes and cargo space...oh, and a DVD player.... for $35/mo. more than my current payment.  I've called around, and supposedly parts are still available and not as expensive as Kia replacement parts.  As with the Kia, the down payment starts at $500, but the lender could require a larger down payment depending on how much negative equity there is from my current car.  I don't know where the down payment is coming from right now, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.  I have to do something about my transportation issues.  So, please, tell me - more thoughts?


Jessi said...

No one but you really knows what you can and can't afford and with money the way it is right now... Well, let's just say I can't tell you what to do.

What I will tell you is that when I was in middle and early high school, my grandma (who did most of my ferrying) drove a Jeep Cherokee and we could really pile the kids in the Jeep (pre-seatbelt laws, yo) and as such, she did a lot of driving for me and my friends. It was a big deal for me. I really enjoyed knowing that she could cart four or five of us around at any given time.

The Jeep was actually why I bought the minivan. I only have two kids, it's not like I needed it, but if I want to take the kids plus one friend each to a movie or the aquarium or whatever, well, I've got to have something huge. Most days, it's just the three of us in there, but there have been so many, many times I've been very excited to have more than four seats.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Unknown said...

Peace of mind is sometimes worth a lot more than money. Only you know if the benefits outweigh the cons.

Good luck!!

Becca said...

Does the change in monthly payment include your negative equity? If not, you need the dealer to calculate that into your financing. I assume you are using your tiny car as trade-in.

Kia parts are hella expensive. Not sure what warranty you may have, but you may want to look into that.

Re: tiny car-you are right to be nervous about it. Electrical problems are so hard to resolve. I had to get rid of a car I dearly loved due to gremlins in the wires, but it was too costly to consider keeping. That said, keep looking before you tie into this deal--esp. if the negative equity is not factored into your financing approval.

Strangeite said...

I own a '94 Kia Rio Cinco (a station wagon) and while the initial cost is cheap, I have found that the car itself is also cheap. The car has 75,000 miles but acts like a car with about twice that amount.

The warranty is nice but Kia and the dealership have not been the easiest in the world to deal with on honoring the warranty. In fact, I don't even bother taking that car to the dealer anymore and rather trust a local mechanic.

I agree with Jessi that mini-vans are awesome and you can actually pick up a Dodge Caravan or something for very little money and parts will be MUCH cheaper than they are for a Kia. I hated the idea of driving a mini-van until we got our Honda Odyssey and now I don't think I can imagine not owning a mini-van.

I also agree with Becca that since the increase in monthly payments don't include the negative equity, it is a red flag. I can hear Dave Ramesey in the back of mind shouting that you really should try and figure out a way of getting by without having to saddle yourself with a car payment. Besides, saying that your payment is $80 a month more (assuming it will only be this much more) isn't the most important factor. What is the term? If this is for 36 months, then maybe it isn't so bad. If it is for 48, 60 or heaven forbid, even longer, than I would run away.

Jenn-Jenn, the Mother Hen said...

The payments do include the negative equity. The lender may increase the amount of down payment required (thus slightly lowering the monthly payment), depending on how much negative equity there is. Sorry I wasn't more clear about that.