Back in 2006 when I was searching for the Ryomobile, I found the perfect match in a Scion xB, and it has served me well over the last 4 years and 60,000 miles. But times change, and now that I’m thinking of spending a significant amount of time this Summer up on my property, the xB’s inability to navigate the dirt road leading up to my hut will be a significant drawback. While wrenching a 800lb trailer up by hand was fun, and hauling hundreds of pounds of supplies using a handcart gave me a great workout (you shoulda seen my abs), I’ll be completely honest and say, I don’t want to do that again. It’d be nice if I can drive up to my hut with supplies and equipment, so that I could spend less time hauling, and more time doing other things. The thought of having to spend half a day just to haul in supplies by foot discouraged me from going up there on a short trip this month, and when my tools prevent me from doing something, that’s when I know I need a new tool.
So, basically, I need a truck. An SUV would do, but pickup trucks tend to be cheaper, and also lighter and therefor more fuel efficient. Seeing how I’ve had the back seats in my Scion folded down permanently for the last year or so, I doubt I’ll miss the passenger capacity. But hauling dirt? Mmm. That sounds useful.
Of course, while trucks are great for going off into the woods, they’re not so great everywhere else. They get worse gas mileage than my puny xB, and they’re harder to park. So, seeing how I’ll probably be a city-mountain-hybrid Ryo for a while, would it make sense to completely ditch the Ryomobile? Also, I haven’t finished paying off the Ryomobile (I have about $4k left to go) and on top of that, I’m not exactly drowning in cash like I used to… So I have a few options:
- Trade in the Ryomobile for a truck
Pros: This is the simplest option, and I could end up with a vehicle that could last much longer than what I have now, since trucks generally outlast cheap 4-doors.
Cons: There are numerous downsides to getting a used truck. One is that you don’t exactly know what kind of condition they’re in, and they generally don’t come with any warranty (my xB has an extended warranty out to 75k miles). I’ll also be spending more money on gas, and would have to deal with all the headaches of owning a truck while living in the city (if I return to the city). On top of that, according to KBB, my xB has a trade-in value of $6500-7000, which means I only get $2500-3k after paying back what I owe. A decent truck will cost at least $10k, so I’d have to shell out cash, or go further into debt.
- Sell the xB, then buy a used truck
Pros: If I sell the xB privately instead of trading it into a dealer, I can probably sell it for a higher price than the trade-in value. With another 15k miles left on the warranty, I’m pretty sure I can get a decent price, since buyers won’t have to worry about it falling apart in a week.
Cons: Selling privately is a hassle. I’d have to get the car cleaned up, inside and out. I also might have to get some dents removed and the windshield replaced, and who knows how much that’d cost. Then, I’d also have to pay off the balance on the loan before I can get the title and sell it. And only then, would I be able to go buy a truck. Oh, and I’d have to deal with not having a car after I’ve sold the Scion but before I’ve bought a truck. I guess I could rent a car, but that’s more money I’d be spending…
- Keep the xB, buy a clunker
Pros: I’ll get a truck that I can use for going up to my property, but I’ll still have the xB for all other times. Keeping the xB and driving it into the ground will also allow me to extract every last dollar of value from it, and frankly, it’ll probably last me at least another few years.
Cons: I’ll have to spend cash on the clunker, while continuing to make payments on the xB. I’d have to pay double the insurance, two registration fees, and figure out what to do with one while I’m driving the other. A clunker also is more likely to just stop running, and when up in the mountains, far from civilization, I’m not sure I want to worry about that. Also, when clunkers die, they tend to require more money than they’re worth to keep running.
- Sell the xB, buy a clunker (or two)
Pros: I’d have my truck, and I could also be free of debt, and possibly even come out ahead. If I can sell the xB for $8k, that’d give me $4k to spend on a clunker. Or two. It’d be kinda cool to buy a couple of ’89 Toyota pickup trucks, and use one for parts to keep the other running (well, and learn how to do that).
Cons: I end up with a truck (or two trucks) that could die at any moment, and leave me stranded and immobile somewhere.
- Swap the xB for a truck with someone for the summer
Pros: Surely there’s someone out there with a truck who doesn’t really need it and would rather drive a car that gets 33mpg for a while. I can use a truck while I’m up on my property, but I’ll have the xB when I come back to civilization. Ideally, this won’t cost me anything.
Cons: I’m not sure this is something people do, and I’m not sure how I’d find someone trustworthy to swap cars with. I’m also not sure how the insurance will work out.
I think right now, I’m leaning towards either just doing a trade-in, or buying a clunker and keeping the Ryomobile, with a slight preference for the former if I can find a good deal. I saw a ’04 Toyota Tacoma today for a little over $10k. It was one of the smaller trims, which are also reasonably fuel efficient, so I probably wouldn’t mind having one of ’em as my primary car.
What do y’all think?