If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Thought Experiment: Follow Up

The Needles, Custer State Park, SD

Yesterday, I posted a thought experiment asking for recommendations for American cars for my family of five. I got tons of replies, and I thank you all for that. However, despite what I said in the post, I do not require an American car. It was more of a way to learn what is out there from American automakers, since I rarely look at American cars. But now that restriction is removed.

White Sands, NM

I typed a long reply to WilliamsSW this morning outlining where I am in the process of looking for a vehicle, taking into consideration current fleet status, age, payments, future needs, etc. I have pasted that below (with a couple of edits). So, taking all this into consideration, I am interested not only in your vehicle suggestions (foreign or domestic), but also your game plan suggestions. While I have never leased, leasing is not out of the equation. All options are on the table, including the harebrained idea of doing some sort of restoration on my beloved 2003 Odyssey.

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Amarillo, TX

I fear I may have painted myself into a corner. The thought experiment isn’t entirely theoretical, since I do need to replace my Odyssey at some point, but I just rebuilt the transmission and hope to have it for at least two, hopefully three years to offset the cost of the repair. I have a sophomore who will be going to college in two years and, with twins who are three years younger, we could be going back and forth to college for seven years starting in 2021. My wife has a 2013 Civic, bought used, that we still have two years to pay on.

So, if I wait two years to replace the van in 2021, we’ll have a new/used car payment on top of college tuition (for one, and then potentially three). My wife’s Civic will be 8 years old, though it will be paid off. We like to keep our cars as long as possible, and she doesn’t drive it much (though my sophomore will be driving it eventually), so I expect that car will be around for a while, barring any catastrophes. If I wait until 2021, then any new people mover will likely be financed for 5 years and paid off before the end of seven years of college, but then I’ll be looking to ditch it for something more me-friendly, which would mean an almost immediate resumption of payments, and by then my wife’s Civic will NEED to be replaced, and we’re back to two car payments.

It almost makes sense to replace the Odyssey NOW (I would keep it for the teens to drive) when the Civic is close to being paid off. Then we’d have two years of double car payments, but not while we’re paying tuition, though the payment would continue into the college years. Then the new vehicle will be paid off during the college years, but closer to when we only have two in college and not three, and I can look to dump it in 2028 (!!) after having gotten (hopefully) lots of use out of it (remember, I’m rocking a 16-year-old Odyssey). Plus, if I wait until 2021 and want to get a two-year-old Odyssey, I’d have to get the current generation and I hate the way the current gen looks and drives. I am almost certainly going to replace my current Odyssey with another van, but I don’t want a lumbering SUV, and I honesty don’t know if a Pacifica or other American van will last nine years. Or more.

Lots of “ifs,” and I worry that I’ve painted myself into a corner. But as much as I like not having car payments, let alone two, it is starting to look like now is a better time to buy than later.

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Thanks in advance. I may not be able to reply to everybody, but I will read everything.

On the Pig Trail in the Ozark National Forest

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