Reasoning why NOT to buy a second car just for better mpg - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 08-24-2008
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Reasoning why NOT to buy a second car just for better mpg

The thing I always tell people when they're considering buying a car for fuel economy is this: factor in the price of the car, ESPECIALLY if it's a second or even THIRD car. Between trunk space and passenger seat space, I can easily fit all my groceries for 1-2 weeks worth of groceries in my SLK. I met a guy the other day that drives an R170, which admittedly may have less space, but he said he bought a second car just to have it as a "daily driver and grocery getter". I believe he said it was a prius or insight. I can't imagine those have all that much more cargo space. Unless he's commuting like an hour each way, the price of the car and insuring it will FAR outweigh the money he's saving on gas.

I had a motorcycle that got 40mpg highway, but I don't really ride much anymore cause my knee hurts. Someone told me I should keep it as a daily driver to save gas. Well I did the math and I would save, at most, around 100 bucks a month at current prices (based on $4 usd per gallon). That's only 1200 a year in gas savings. Insurance is 200 bucks a year, so that means only 1000 a year in savings. Then factor in new tires for the bike every 2 years, which would run another 500 dollars, means only $750 a year in savings. I sold the bike for almost $7000. I would have had to keep the bike for at least 9 years (at current gas prices mind you) to make up the money I would have made selling the bike right now. Factoring in for gas prices going up and saving more in years to come, I would still give it 5+ years that I would have to use the bike as a daily driver, rain or shine, to save enough money on gas just to break even.

Someone going out and spending $20k on a fuel efficient car as their second vehicle just doesn't make sense cause they're spending more on the car than they save on gas. If it's your ONLY car then yeah, go for fuel efficiency if you don't care about looks or performance. If it's your second car, I wouldn't do it unless I had extra money just laying around and was doing it more for the environmental impact and wanting to lower my personal carbon footprint, because the gas savings don't justify the expense. Not only that, but the "carbon footprint" from manufacturing the car sorta offsets any environmental protection you might gain from using it as your daily driver, so to me it's a wash.

Now if they come out with a good looking, good performing, sporty car that ALSO gets 40-50mpg or more, I'm all for it. I'm eagerly anticipating mercedes putting the Diesotto engines into the SLK line if they ever do. Until then, I'll stick with my 350 as my daily driver! ..... I don't have kids either though .
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#2 Old 08-24-2008
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I tell people the same thign all the time, Dont bother buying another car, payments and insurance and upkeep will outweigh savings...
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#3 Old 08-24-2008
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The other reason to buy such a car is to show the industry that you are serious about spending money for that kind of technology. Better things will likely follow. Savings in the short run is not everything. If it were, we probably wouldn't get an SLK.
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#4 Old 08-25-2008
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Cousjcc - SOLID logic, I agree.
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#5 Old 08-25-2008
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I agree on the point about showing the manufacturers that we are willing to pay for that technology to a point. However, I believe (and correct me if I'm wrong) cars that get more than 35-40mpg have actually been around for a while, and the technology has been around even longer than that just not in production. It may be conspiracy theory or it may be the truth, or both, but I for one subscribe to the belief that big oil and big money drive big industry. There was simply no incentive for car manufacturers to trim the fat and make their cars more efficient until oil hit 100+ per barrel and SUVs started rusting on dealer lots.

There has been a vocal minority crying for better fuel economy or alternatives to gasoline engines for at least the last decade. The vocal minority just wasn't large enough to make manufacturers listen. Now that the masses are starting to realize that the 12mpg SUV they had their eye on 3 years ago is just plain ridiculous, manufacturers are starting to trickle out technology they've had under their hat for years.

I haven't always driven a $50k car by any means. My favorite car before this one wasn't even the fastest one I owned previously. My eclipse was certainly faster, but I actually (surprisingly to some I know) liked my 2003 Hyundai tiburon the best. It was fun, sporty looking, had an awesome dark/midnight teal paint job, and had a soft spot in my heart. The honda insight was available back then, but the car is ridiculously ugly. I just don't see why they can't have the engine and fuel economy of the insight with the body of a tiburon, eclipse, or SLK.

I dunno how it is around the world, but in the states cars are more than just transportation. They are an outward expression of our personalities. For me a car comes second only after a place to live when it comes to the pecking order of my finances. I don't spend a lot on vacations or really just about anything else. I usually only buy a TV about once every 6-7 years yet usually end up in a new car every 3 years (that may change with the SLK, I'll probably keep it 6 years or so till the next SLK model is in its stride, hopefully as a turbo'd V6 or diesotto). No matter what the fuel economy of a car is, or how much I would like to send a message to car companies that I would like to see better MPG, which I would, I just CANNOT bring myself to drive these absolutely hideous cars such as the insight, prius, smart car, etc. This is the case with many, if not most, American drivers. We want a car that when we see it, we get that "it just fits me" feeling inside. That's why I fell in love with the SLK and decided upon it over a corvette, which I've always wanted. Until hybrids make vast changes cosmetically and performance wise, I don't see myself owning one. The tesla roadster is one electric car I could see myself driving for sure, but at $100k it's a bit outta my reach financially.

I want to see hybrid and/or electric cars become THE mainstream. I just don't see that happening in the states until they rethink the notion that they can just throw a high mpg engine into an ugly cheese-wedge of a vehicle and actually capture the majority of the market share. I really don't see that happening.
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#6 Old 08-25-2008
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Okay, you're probably paranoid. The reason they didn't bring out the economical cars is that people wouldn't BUY them (and other complicated reasons). As you said, the MASSES bought the big gas consuming SUVs and so that is what the auto industry produced. If you are looking to blame someone, blame the consumer.
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#7 Old 08-25-2008
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Yeah I probably have only myself to blame... well myself and all the soccer moms/dads out there that bought escalades, tahoes, suburbans, etc over the years. I still won't buy an insight. The closest thing to a hybrid I would look at buying is the hybrid civic, but even that is a stretch. Why can't they make these vehicles more aesthetically pleasing? It's not like the hybrid technology is in the body panels. Heck, take a saturn sky and put a hybrid engine in it and I bet it would get BETTER mpg than the hybrid civic or insight, cause it weighs so little. That 2 seater roadster saturn makes is hella fun to drive, and if it weren't for the fact that it's a rag top with ZERO trunk space compared to the SLK I woulda bought it instead. It has awesome lines, at least to me, but I really wanted the hardtop convertible. Hybrids are still so gosh-darn ugly for no good reason.

Still, all paranoia aside, mitsubishi had a concept vehicle several years ago that got better fuel economy than the current generation of hybrids on the road. Why isn't that technology in consumers' hands now that there is a demand for it? Also, even though the masses bought the big SUVs, they're making similar SUVs now that get 20-30mpg highway. Where were those SUVs 5 years ago or more? It wouldn't have hurt the manufacturers one bit to produce them instead of the gas guzzling ones. Consumers wanted SUVs, they just didn't (at the time) care about fuel economy. That shouldn't have stopped manufacturers from making them more efficient. It still makes me wonder if big oil doesn't have a stock interest in some of the car companies. But yeah I'm probably paranoid.
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#8 Old 08-25-2008
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I think it really depends upon how many miles you drive and what you are coming from and going to.

We drive around 20,000 miles per year and get around 16 mpg in my SUV. Going to 32mpg will save around $2,500/yr or around $200/ month. That almost covers the cost of a base civic or hyudai or KIA. Using the money to pay for a car instead of gas also leaves you with an asset you can sell further recovering the cost. In my case I can also write off the mileage at almost $0.50 / mile.

I've driven a rental Prius for about a month and would have to say that it's about as big as a Toyota Camry on the inside. It also has a hatchback which greatly improves it's cargo carrying ability over a camry.

Cars look the way they do because middle Americans don't want dramatic styling. Most people are not willing to pay more for design.
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#9 Old 08-26-2008
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My son's 1989 Honda CRX gets 40-45mpg. Maybe I should take over his car and sell my Benz.....NAWWWWW NO WAY.

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#10 Old 08-26-2008
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I still think the best car is two cars. No car does everything, and certainly the SLK probably doesn't fall into the "practical" end of the spectrum.

You have a point on the insurance, but for other costs it doesn't quite hold up. If you drove each car half the time, you'd put half the wear on it, use half the fuel, wear out the tires half as fast, etc. Yes, you'd have to pay for two cars, but those two cars would last you twice as long.

In reality, cars are never a good "investment", and many people simply replace them when they want to, not when they wear out, especially for a car like the SLK.

I'd be curious how many people have the SLK as their only car???

Cheers!

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I have a Hyundai Tucson as well. Boring as sin, but a really "nice" car, hauls lots, etc. I figure with the miles I put on it, it should last about 20 years. Then again, I have a smart as well. Fun little bugger, but in a completly different way from the SLK.
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#11 Old 08-26-2008
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Originally Posted by Dang View Post
I still think the best car is two cars. No car does everything, and certainly the SLK probably doesn't fall into the "practical" end of the spectrum.

You have a point on the insurance, but for other costs it doesn't quite hold up. If you drove each car half the time, you'd put half the wear on it, use half the fuel, wear out the tires half as fast, etc. Yes, you'd have to pay for two cars, but those two cars would last you twice as long.

In reality, cars are never a good "investment", and many people simply replace them when they want to, not when they wear out, especially for a car like the SLK.

I'd be curious how many people have the SLK as their only car???

Cheers!

Dang

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I have a Hyundai Tucson as well. Boring as sin, but a really "nice" car, hauls lots, etc. I figure with the miles I put on it, it should last about 20 years. Then again, I have a smart as well. Fun little bugger, but in a completely different way from the SLK.

Two cars, or three or four or five...

Life is too short to buy a car for fuel mileage reasons. Buy stuff that's useful OR you just like to drive it. Either way works for me.
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#12 Old 08-27-2008
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Originally Posted by Dang View Post
I still think the best car is two cars. No car does everything, and certainly the SLK probably doesn't fall into the "practical" end of the spectrum.
I have no choice but to have two cars, it snows here in Colorado and I don't want to be driving in the snow in a rear wheel driver roadster, plus I have kids and it's impossible to haul two kids around in a two-seat convert. Plus my SLK cost less than my cell phone per month in insurance, having two car is ideal.

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#13 Old 08-27-2008
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The SLK350 is my only car and I don't have any problems with it. I can understand if you have kids or liked driving around friends then a 2 seater wouldn't be practical - I don't have either of those problems. Shopping wise I can't always fit everything easily - but I'm still able to go to Costco and buy more than enough stuff.

The only time I missed having an SUV or a larger vehicle is when I moved from my temporary housing to current location. Although I didn't need to move any furniture as my previous place was furnished, it still took me a ton of trips to move everything - thankfully the move was literally a 5 minute drive each way.

All the new furniture I bought I had delivered - I guess with a secondary larger vehicle I could have transported it myself and saved $300-400 (pretty minimal cost) however, I would have had troubles transporting a mattress which would need to be tied to the roof and would have me nervous on the freeways etc.

Lesson learned though, next time I move ill rent something and fork out the $100-$200 it costs... for me this is much more practical then owning a second vehicle - especially for those of us who have assigned parking and would also have nowhere to put this second vehicle.


Edit. Surfing or Snowboarding are also potential downsides of the SLK – as I enjoy both I wouldn’t mind having an SUV to allow this easier but I wouldn’t trade in my SLK for an SUV
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#14 Old 08-27-2008
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I think each of us had different needs and priorities.

We will generally fulfill those needs. There are some that have what others consider excessive while others wonder how they would get by with less.

If we feel there is a need, we will seek and find appropriate justification.

Having said that I am very needed - I currently have a couple of vehicles for specific purposes:

1. '85 Golf GTI - the rally car, race only.
2. '06 Solstice - for auto X and general around town
3. '05 F150 for dragging the rally car around, moving what ever needs to be moved, also used when the weather is ****ty - ie rain, and of course the Canadian winters.
4. My SLK - saved the best till last

I also have a farm tractor to manage my acreage (but I don't think that counts)

Everything but the truck gets blocked in the winter. I pull the rally car out for a couple of events but the Benz and the Sol get blocked.

Speaking of which, since this is the first year I've had the Benz, what is the proper way for blocking it? Hang on - that's a thread hijack, I'll start a new thread.
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#15 Old 08-28-2008
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There was a reply in there that mentioned that it depends on how much you drive, etc. My point in this thread was definately not to say that having a hybrid is a bad thing if it's your primary vehicle, or only vehicle, just that it doesn't make sense if you buy it as a second vehicle strictly for the purpose of saving gas. If you spend 20,000 bucks on a hybrid and keep it for the average lifespan most americans do, which is 5-7 years max, than the cost of buying and maintaining the car FAR outweighs the fuel savings unless you commute an hour or more each way to work.

For instance, if you drive 20,000 miles a year, at 22mpg in the SLK (assuming you do mixed city/highway driving), you spend about 3630 a year in gas if it is 4 dollars per gallon. That same 20,000 miles, at 45mpg in a hybrid is about 1780 bucks. That means you're only saving $1,800. Factor in $50 a month in insurance (assuming a multi car policy for cheap insurance on the hybrid and good driver history), and you're really only saving $1200 a year for the hybrid.

Now if the hybrid is your ONLY car, that's fine, and saves you good money each year. However, lets say you already have an SLK. If you have kids than obviously you need a 2nd car so the hybrid is the way to go. Once again though, we're talking about getting a hybrid STRICTLY for the purpose of mpg savings (see thread topic). So if you're an empty nester or a youngin with no plans of having children like myself, you're sittin' there with an SLK as your primary and only car. Does spending $20,000 to buy a hybrid that you'll probably only keep for 6-7 years really make sense? If you save $1200 a year, that's $8400 in savings on gas over 7 years. But wait, that's assuming you put the entire 20,000 miles on the hybrid. What about weekend drives in the SLK? But lets give it the benefit of the doubt and say you save $8400 over 7 years using the hybrid that you paid $20,000 for. At the end of that 7 years you'll probably only be able to sell the hybrid for $10,000 if you're lucky. That means you basically spent $10,000 just to save $8400, and don't forget interest on the loan if you took one out to buy the hybrid. In the long run, buying a hybrid as a SECOND car, STRICTLY for the purpose of saving gas, just doesn't make sense.

If you're doing it cause you have the money to spare, and you just wanna save wear and tear on the SLK, avoid the daily parking lot door dings, reduce your risk of vandalism or theft, then cheers. I say by all means do it. I personally can't afford to get a second vehicle just to protect the SLK from the hazards of daily driving, but it's certainly something I wouldn't mind doing. The original idea of this thread though was to give the cons against buying a second vehicle strictly for the purpose of saving money on gas. THAT, in my opinion, is definately not worth it. We're here because we have SLKs, because we love them, and because gosh darn it I don't care if gas is $10 a gallon we're going to drive them! .... of course if gas reaches $10 a gallon my argument in this thread is mute and I'll probably go pick up a 50mpg car too as my daily driver .
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#16 Old 08-28-2008
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My main car gets 14-16 mpg, V8 SUV. Switching to a $20k hybrid at 45mpg pays for itself in about 5-6 years if driving 20k miles per year at $4/gallon. In 5-6 years you would probably get a couple thousand back on the sale.

If used for a business where miles are reimbursed / written off at $0.505 per mile, it pays for itself in less than 2 years. Of course a Prius Hybrid with all the options actually cost around $30k and not $20k.

Sadly, I can't get over how cheap used 2006 S430s or 05 VW Phaetons have become and might be getting one of those instead, not saving any gas.
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#17 Old 08-28-2008
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Yeah it your situation it makes sense. I've never understood SUVs. I don't know many SUV owners that really NEED all that space. Of course, you need to sell your SUV for it to really be worth it If you can get anyone to buy it, that is . Wish I could write off my driving as a business expense .
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#18 Old 08-28-2008
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Well, at the time I bought it, I wanted something faster and handles better than my e46 BMW 3 series. Since I had only one parking space, it had to be very versatile, a do it all car which I could also haul clients around in.

When it came out, it was the 2nd fastest SUV / crossover, second only to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which costs 2x. I'm actually very happy with my FX45. No problems with it even though it has more gadgets and gizmos than our SLK. There are a lot of people I know who autocross their FXs whenever they have a chance.
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#19 Old 08-28-2008
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Originally Posted by cousjcc View Post
Yeah it your situation it makes sense. I've never understood SUVs. I don't know many SUV owners that really NEED all that space. Of course, you need to sell your SUV for it to really be worth it If you can get anyone to buy it, that is . Wish I could write off my driving as a business expense .
More than half of cars on the road in Colorado are SUV's, we are the SUV capital of the nation, and it shows, During the winter you rarely see anything but SUV's. If I lived in Texas or California, I might not be driving a SUV but here in Colorado where there are tons of outdoor things to do, SUV's are extremely practical. I can't count how much times that I've used the fold down feature and put everything in there, there is no way a car will fit all that stuff. With that said, I don't know how other people can survive w/o one.

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#20 Old 08-28-2008
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