I really hate parting with money for cars. Most new cars are just an asset worth significantly less when you drive them off the lot. Then they lose a lot of value every year. So much so that many owe more on their cars than they are worth.
For many years, I’ve recommended to people that if they are to get a vehicle that is new to them, think about one that is two to three years old. It’s new enough but at a lower price.
I drive a Tahoe that I purchased at a steep discount from the car rental company Enterprise. It was a year old, but the price was the best I’d seen.
I found that deal on CarGurus that allows you to search for vehicles, and they rank the offer as compared to other similar vehicles. I found the site to be beneficial.
Our other car is a 2008 Honda Odyssey minivan we bought new knowing that we’d have it for a long time. It’s running great because we take great care of it and give it the regular recommended maintenance.
Buying a Car is a Personal Choice
So much of the decision about what kind of vehicle to purchase is wrapped up in emotion. What does the vehicle project about status, how cool does it look, or how does it make the driver feel.
I get it. I was that guy once.
But at some point in my life, before we bought the Honda, I changed. I began to look at vehicles as a utilitarian purchase. In fact, I don’t even care about the color on the outside. If it does what I need for it to do and gets me around reliably and safely, that is the most important issue.
When I purchased the Tahoe, it was for a specific task and need that I had. I needed a vehicle that could carry around a lot of gear and needed items in my role as a volunteer firefighter.
So if I need a vehicle that has all sorts of flashy lights and a siren on it, I’ve got that.
But My Needs are Changing Six Years Later
It’s been six years since I purchased the Tahoe and twelve since purchasing the Honda. Since then, my life has changed. My new granddaughter has arrived during a pandemic, and she lives 38 highway miles away.
Not only are the current vehicles getting older, but I am as well.
For many years I’ve complained about how much I hate to drive and what a waste of time it is. I have to sit there, be constantly vigilant, and hold a steering wheel for hours on end.
As a pilot, I love the autopilot on the airplane. It allows me to focus on making sure that I’m focusing on other important matters as I fly.
So you see where I’m going here?
It sure feels like now is the right time to consider getting into a vehicle that is quickly moving towards more advanced vehicle navigation even though no vehicle is entirely there yet.
I Went With a Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus and Here is Why
The Tesla Model 3 seemed like the best vehicle for me to purchase because:
- It is an entry-level vehicle and much more affordable than other similarly equipped vehicles.
- Tesla is a manufacturer that has focused on electric vehicle (EV) vehicle development for some years.
- Customer satisfaction among Tesla owners is the highest or at the top of all vehicles.
- An electric vehicle requires less maintenance and no fluid changes you have to pay for.
- The vehicle comes with a complimentary upgrade path for the full self-driving option.
- I can fuel the vehicle at home and my electric company offers discounted electricity rates to do that. I do not need to install an expensive charger to do this. If I want to charge faster, there are free chargers near me if I need them.
- I got 1,000 free supercharger miles for the car if I need to charge it on the road.
- The travel range fits my needs.
- I plan to keep the vehicle for many years.
- I looked at leasing but considering I will keep the vehicle for many years, I might as well spend monthly payments towards residual value rather than just long-term rent.
- Tesla has an extensive network of Supercharger locations and more EV charging companies are rolling out convenient locations.
- The safety rating is very good for the vehicle size.
- As traffic builds and I get older, my reaction times are probably getting slower, and there is more chance of an accident. The vehicle can assist me in staying safe on the road.
- The vehicle suffers from less depreciation than most cars. Residual value is high.
- Given that the Tesla Model 3 will replace most of my driving in the Tahoe, I will pay significantly less in fuel costs. About $172 a month, to be exact. That’s $2,066 a year saved in fuel and about another $400 in fluid changes over a year.
- I’m intrigued by the Tesla approach to rolling out incremental changes to the vehicle as they move along in manufacturing.
- Tesla is frequently rolling out updates to the car software, and people are reporting excellent progress with the full self-driving option.
- Tesla provides free roadside assistance.
What I Decided to Buy
Telsa vehicle options range from the entry-level Model 3 that I purchased to an SUV and a very sporty supercar.
The only option I added was the full self-driving package. The standard autopilot package already comes with the car.
And in true Steve form, I went with the default white color and standard wheels. Other colors come at an upcharge of as much as $2,500, and fancier wheels added more.
The most expensive Tesla is the Model S with all the options. That currently comes in at $158,490 without delivery destination fee, registration, and taxes.
The entry-level Model 3 I selected is $49,290 without the extra fees.
The purchase experience is so smooth. You select the options you want on your vehicle and click to purchase it. All the details, including financing, are handled online.
So the monthly payment is $695. My monthly cost savings is about $200. That brings the payment down to about $500 a month.
The Tesla financing is very inexpensive as well, and mathematically I can get a better return by keeping money in investments than paying for the car and avoiding financing.
Is Any Vehicle Purchase Perfect?
Given that so much is wrapped up in a car or truck purchase, it would be impossible for there ever to be a perfect vehicle for everyone.
After all, what would all the small guys that drive big trucks with lift kits do if they weren’t available?
I hope to make the purchase experience a bit of a series, and I’ll post an update when I actually get the car.
Image Credit: DepositPhotos.com.