Owning 3 vehicles

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sf99
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Owning 3 vehicles

Post by sf99 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:17 pm

I live in the HCOL area (SF) and have two compact cars - Leaf (leased) and a Prius. Our kids 7 and 4 are now at an age where they are starting to enjoy outdoor activities (e.g. biking, skiing etc.).

I have been thinking of buying a used Highlander for weekend trips and keep using the Leaf and the Prius for commuting during the weekdays. Until now we decided to rent an SUV whenever we needed but this is becoming an issue (e.g. when I want to take my kids biking, it is becoming an issue to load 3 bikes on a Prius).

So, is owning 3 vehicles as I suggested a bad idea ? Should I get rid of a Prius and replace it with a Highlander (or some other SUV) ? We definitely need a Leaf to get the HOV lane during peak traffic hours.

Comments/Suggestions ?

adamthesmythe
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:19 pm

You live in the Land of the Car and you have two kids. Three cars in just the beginning. Figure on at least five before they leave home.

02nz
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by 02nz » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:39 pm

Three cars is a bit much in your situation, I'd say. Check out the Kia Niro - a hybrid crossover that might be the combination of space and fuel economy you're looking for.

chevca
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by chevca » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:42 pm

Can you afford it easily? Do you have a place for the third car?

If yes to both, buy it.

FlyAF
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by FlyAF » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:53 pm

I have 3 cars with no kids. 3rd car is simply for fun. It is a limited edition collector car that I don't want to put a bunch of miles on or risk being damaged. It spends most of it's time covered in the garage and after 12 years, it's value is finally starting to increase dramatically because of it's condition and low miles. That said, I have a 3 car garage and wouldn't have a 3rd car w/o it.

Chuck
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Chuck » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:56 pm

If you have space for parking, and you can handle the additional cost.

Your vehicle expense will have two components. I don't know the financially literate way to discuss it, but it's essentially the cost to own (which is more or less constant with time), and the cost to drive (which is cost per mile).

Insurance, financing, one component of depreciation, and some maintenance are time-based. Fuel cost, most maintenance, and the other component of depreciation are mileage-based.

Adding a third vehicle will change the math of your mileage-based expenses somewhat, but it shouldn't drastically change your overall mileage. (If you drive the third vehicle, you will be adding less mileage to the other two vehicles, which somewhat decreases the cost of those vehicles.)

Alternately, you can just replace one of the smaller vehicles with a larger, more capable vehicle. In that case, some of your commuting will be wasteful (because it could be done by a cheaper-to-operate vehicle) however if that waste is smaller than the fixed cost of owning one of the other vehicles, it's still better. And it's easier to commute in an SUV than go adventuring in a Leaf or Prius.

ssquared87
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by ssquared87 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:07 pm

Depends on two main things I guess. I'll preface this by saying I strongly believe in using the right tool for the job so I'm slightly biased in favor of adding a 3rd car.

1. Financial - Do you need the money from selling the prius or leaf to afford the third car?
2. Space - Do you have somewhere to park it that it will not get in the way?

If you have the money and space, I think its worth it. I would rather be driving a smaller car when I don't need the space, rather than driving a huge car 100% of the time. I have two cars for myself right now and I will say that if you don't have the space to keep the additional car on your property, it does get to be a pain. I don't use my second car as much because I don't have a permanent parking space at my apartment for it, so I'm constantly switching the two out and it does get annoying.

Its also nice to have an additional car if one of them needs repairs, so you'll always have a backup. Sometimes I like to work in my cars myself, so having one down and being able to drive the other is great.

Finally, when your kids are old enough to drive, you'll have a car they can use so you're just sort of getting in front of that issue a few years early ;)

bloom2708
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by bloom2708 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:12 pm

You could buy everyone in the family a Brompton folding bike and see if you can get 4 in a Prius trunk. I would guess they would fit.

A 3rd family truckster seems reasonable. You don't have weather issues like ahem some places where parking a car outside is hazardous to its health.

I would not buy a new car to be partially driven. One owner, 3-5 years old, serviced. Older owner. Find a gently used Lexus or Toyota that fits your needs.
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

sf99
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by sf99 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:13 pm

Good comments. I don't have a 3 car garage. Infact, both the Prius and Leaf are parked on the driveway. If I get a 3rd vehicle, one of the 3 would have to be parked on the street.

I am so used to driving a Prius that driving a large SUV feels a bit scary - esp given that I am used to the maneuverability of the Prius. Whenever I have driven an SUV during my trips, I feel like I have to be extra careful given that it is a large vehicle.

FlyAF
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by FlyAF » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:18 pm

Do you have a garage at all that could be cleaned out to at least house 1 vehicle? Parking on the street would be deal breaker for me re: a 3rd vehicle.

Chuck
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Chuck » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:19 pm

Oh yeah, I forgot to add that the third car should not be new, as bloom2708 mentioned. I would have said something between 5-8 years old, in order to minimize depreciation.

However, make sure every car gets driven at least once every week or two. I've had to get repairs on some of my vehicles after letting them sit 4-6 weeks or so. Rusty rotors, seized calipers, engine problems, dead batteries, etc. Cars need exercise, just like us. So don't leave your gas guzzler in the driveway just because you don't want to guzzle gas. A gallon of gas is cheaper than a brake job.

bloom2708
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by bloom2708 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:19 pm

Parking on the street would add a new element.

I know nothing about the vehicle. I am spending your future money. Maybe check out a Pacifica Hybrid. I know, I know. The plug-in hybrid has a ~33 mile all electric range. Then it is a hybrid. Is your commute over 33 miles round trip?

It looks sharp, stow n go seating (all the seats fold into the floor), good cargo space, seats 7, hybrid/plug in, rebates/tax credit, they seem to be trying to check off multiple boxes which I like. Jump the shark. :wink:
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead

Jack FFR1846
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:22 pm

I've used the same 4 bike rack on my 91 Honda CRX 2 seater and a 2000 Yukon XL. Both easily fit 4 mountain bikes. Where the CRX got 28 mpg and was really fun, I could probably fit it inside the Yukon XL by removing the 3rd row seats. In both cases, the bikes were out on the rack. I use a trailer mount rack bolted to a receiver so it's really easy to install and remove. I see no reason to buy a vehicle for bike rides. Now if you said you were pulling a boat or a racecar trailer, I can see the bigger vehicle.
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open_circuit
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by open_circuit » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:22 pm

We only acquired a third vehicle after we had a house / driveway / garage combination that allows us to park all three on our property. We also bought a third vehicle that was older than our primary vehicles and provides utility that our primary vehicles do not. I'd recommend most or all of these to you as well.

sf99
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by sf99 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:26 pm

FlyAF wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:18 pm
Do you have a garage at all that could be cleaned out to at least house 1 vehicle? Parking on the street would be deal breaker for me re: a 3rd vehicle.
At this point, probably not. But we could squeeze in the Leaf if we cleaned up a bit.

Chuck
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Chuck » Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:29 pm

I wanted a pickup truck for occasional hauling, but that was super-expensive, so I bought a trailer to hook up to my minivan. It's harder to drive, but it's way cheaper than a truck.

sliverstorm
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by sliverstorm » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:50 pm

It's expensive to just let a vehicle sit there. Registration, insurance, and depreciation can take a big bite out of your budget. If your weekday miles are low enough, it might be worth selling the Prius and driving the Highlander- the miles cost more, but you pay less reg+ins+dep.

Or, get creative! If it's an issue of "stuff" and "bikes" driving you to consider a new vehicle, have you shopped for a better bike rack? Have you tried a hitch bike rack, which are easier to load than roof racks? Or, what about this:

https://captainoverpacker.com/2015/09/2 ... 3-5x5lshs/

Light enough to tow with a Prius, space for "stuff", easy to load the bikes, and reg+ins+dep costs on a little utility trailer are pennies compared to a third car.

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Watty
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Watty » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:39 pm

sf99 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 4:13 pm
If I get a 3rd vehicle, one of the 3 would have to be parked on the street.
Some cities or HOA's may have restrictions on how long you can leave a car parked on the street without moving it.

daveydoo
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by daveydoo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:53 am

sf99 wrote:
Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:17 pm

So, is owning 3 vehicles as I suggested a bad idea ?
Of course not -- millions of households do that. You know your variables way better than any of us do. As for keeping that Prius, well, that's a separate (and very loaded) question... :D

We have two commuter-ish vehicles and a ski/camp/bike/hike vehicle that doubles as the "kid car" (before they left and when they're back "home"). We have the room and the money (none of the three cars were very expensive, although two were new).

Third car recently got hit when it was parked on the street. Moved it in the garage, swapping it with the older commuter. Which then got hit last week when it was parked on the street. We're now three vehicles (two, dented!) with two full-time drivers and the occasional college kid home for days or weeks. Having "extra" vehicles is a blessing and a curse.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

CurlyDave
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by CurlyDave » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:00 am

Man up and get a diesel F-350. :D

BuckyBadger
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by BuckyBadger » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:27 am

I'm surprised, but I don't think it's been suggested yet.

What about trading the Prius in for a cross-over type vehicle. Like that bigger Prius? There are several very nice smallish crossovers that get good gas mileage and it seems like getting one slightly larger car would make more sense than getting an entirely different third car.

And don't load bikes into cars - that's always a huge pain!! There are several great bike racks out there, especially if you have a hitch on your car. I love love love hitch-mounted bike racks that allow you to still open and lose your back hatch.

Would something like this work for you?

As I always do I'll recommend a lovingly pre owned Subaru Outback. The gas mileage isn't like a Prius, but it's totally respectable, and a wagon is just so convenient!

mmmodem
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by mmmodem » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:52 am

Once the Leaf lease is over, you can get a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV or a Chrysler Pacifica PHEV. Both qualify for the new red HOV decals.
https://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm

We own a non plug in Outlander after owning a Prius. It's pretty easy to drive as the footprint of a compact SUV is hardly larger than the Prius it replaced. The addition of backup camera really help with parking.

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kenyan
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by kenyan » Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:58 am

Why not sell the Prius and buy a more appropriately sized car? The money saved on insurance/maintenance/registration for a 3rd car would more than pay for any loss in gas mileage.
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dm200
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by dm200 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:58 am

Cars depreciate on both age and miles driven. There are many fixed costs of owning an additional car, such as depreciation, parking, some maintenance, insurance, licensing, property taxes (in some states), etc.

I would lean towards 2 appropriate cars instead of a third (except, perhaps, for a short transition period)

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:56 am

Just checked Amazon, many racks capable of hauling four bikes. Numerous types.

No insurance needed, no tag, registration. Virtually no additional maintenance :dollar . Much easily stored when not in use. Allows use of current vehicles, no new driving skills other than not backing into something. If that worries, just get a back-up camera. A camera would be useful even without the rack.

What's not to like by using a quality bike rack?

You would save :moneybag :moneybag

Broken Man 1999
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munemaker
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by munemaker » Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:20 am

The one thing I don't like about owning 3 cars with 2 drivers is the insurance premium for the 3rd car is priced as though all 3 cars are being driven at the same time. The discount for the 3rd car is small. With 3 cars/2 drivers, only 2 can physically be driven at a time. Seems like the insurance company really makes out in this scenario.

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dm200
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by dm200 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:14 pm

munemaker wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:20 am
The one thing I don't like about owning 3 cars with 2 drivers is the insurance premium for the 3rd car is priced as though all 3 cars are being driven at the same time. The discount for the 3rd car is small. With 3 cars/2 drivers, only 2 can physically be driven at a time. Seems like the insurance company really makes out in this scenario.
Yes - our experience as well.

daveydoo
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by daveydoo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:14 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:14 pm
munemaker wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:20 am
The one thing I don't like about owning 3 cars with 2 drivers is the insurance premium for the 3rd car is priced as though all 3 cars are being driven at the same time. The discount for the 3rd car is small. With 3 cars/2 drivers, only 2 can physically be driven at a time. Seems like the insurance company really makes out in this scenario.
Yes - our experience as well.
On the plus side (well, the less-minus side), our off-site drivers with no car at college get enormous breaks on their auto insurance rates -- and can still drive when the need arises.
"I mean, it's one banana, Michael...what could it cost? Ten dollars?"

batpot
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by batpot » Thu Jul 05, 2018 7:22 pm

dm200 wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:14 pm
munemaker wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 11:20 am
The one thing I don't like about owning 3 cars with 2 drivers is the insurance premium for the 3rd car is priced as though all 3 cars are being driven at the same time. The discount for the 3rd car is small. With 3 cars/2 drivers, only 2 can physically be driven at a time. Seems like the insurance company really makes out in this scenario.
Yes - our experience as well.
Not my experience, however, our 3rd vehicle is an older pickup with collision only.
It really comes in handy when we either have a visitor, or one of the primary cars is in the shop.

goodlifer
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by goodlifer » Fri Jul 06, 2018 8:49 am

We downsized from a minivan to an Outback and custom made a folding trailer for our kayaks, bikes, and camping gear. Even with a roof rack cargo box, the Outback is not large enough for 3 people and a dog, and we are not obese or tall people. It also drives like a dog sled with the trailer. I would go with the Pacifica or other larger hybrid if you want better fuel economy. Your kids are going to want to bring friends along, which means more bikes and more seats. And traveling to go bike riding is just a gateway to more outdoor activities. You start to see places that you would like to camp, and then that river nearby looks like it would be nice to kayak, and maybe do some fishing, etc. Suddenly, you look like you are leading an expedition with all the gear you have.

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BrandonBogle
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Re: Owning 3 vehicles

Post by BrandonBogle » Fri Jul 06, 2018 9:16 am

While you’ve said the Leaf is used for commuting and HOV lane access, what role does the Prius serve? If this is truly just a “too small for regular excursions” function vs. “we want to treat ourselves” function, I’d be leaning towards changing the Prius. But if the regular excursions are currently simply because of the bikes, as other suggest, I would get a bike rack for the Prius and use that while the Prius otherwise serves its purpose.

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