Point Counterpoint: Pros and Cons of Owning a Second Car

Some people own more cars than the drivers in their house can physically drive at one time. Sometimes that’s a sports car, classic car, motorbike or even a supercar. I am one of those people well sort of, my second car is a pretty well used 10 year old Subaru that’s been previously wrecked (by me). My other car is a work truck of similar historical characteristics. We got the second car about a year and a half ago when we bought the world’s most junky work truck. We replaced that tiered girl in the fall. I decided to put off the decision of what to do with the second one until the spring after buying winter tiers for both. It’s getting on time to make that decision and perhaps this might help me work through that choice. I think a lot of people see owning a second car as aspirational goal, which if you ask me is a little weird. I own two because the one I had didn’t meet my work needs during the day and the that truck might not meet my needs otherwise which is admittedly a pretty small amount of driving for me. So let’s look into what it’s really like what are the benefits and the drawbacks. Maybe I’ll even have a decision at the end?

Point: You’re spreading the same maintenance and gas over 2 cars. So the costs are basically the same other than the extra insurance payment and registration right? You won’t burn more gas, wear through more tiers, require more oil changes because you drive the same amount. If you’re like me and have a perfectly clean driving record and neither vehicle is high value that comes out to $70 bucks a month more with registration included. I do spend roughly that on coffee out every month so… For me this has been true but I do end up driving the truck more than I really have to because I’m in it or it’s already warm and it has a V8 and the other one is a 4 cylinder so I do go through a bit more gas but that’s manageable right? Plus you could be more disciplined than me and that might not be an issue for you. Overall this argument is that it’s not really much more expensive to own the second car.

Counterpoint: Things like cars cost money constantly. There is some truth to this argument but it assumes perfect world conditions which rarely happen. There are a lot of factors I promise you might not be factoring in. One is storage and for me I park both outside so that’s not an issue but if you have to pay storage or even leave one out in the weather it is aging faster. If you had one car maybe you could park it inside but with two the outside car requires more maintenance over time. Especially if you live on the coast and you can pretty much watch rust form in an afternoon. Hell the back wiper broke on my Subaru this winter while it was parked this winter from sliding snow. Which brings me to my next point if you’re not driving a car on the regular more things will go wrong with it. No one can explain that fact exactly but trust me it is a thing! Plus it sucks ordering and paying for 8 winter tiers at a time, trust me! For the cost of all those things you can rent a car pretty often if the one you own doesn’t suit your needs.

Point: You have the perfect vehicle for every situation. In theory I have a sporty, cute SUV with a manual transmission, AWD, cruise control and bluetooth to drive on weekends, getting groceries and for trips. I also have a basic 4WD, automatic truck with a full box for all of my hauling needs and those of my family too. I think technically I can go off-roading in either one. For you that mix of needs and vehicles might be totally different. But all of your needs will be met. You can take the one with the big trunk on long family vacations and the sporty convertible for romantic weekend getaways. Maybe you’ll drive the Prius to work since it’s a long commute and the minivan when you have to drag the whole family out somewhere. PS you’re pretty practical with this particular mix! If you have two cars you can always drive the perfect one, you can even match it to your outfit! Just today I had to run to the building center for some rail and I was like if it’s 8’ I’ll take the Sube but since it was 10 foot section I was after I took the truck. Nothing hanging out the back door for me anymore!  

Counterpoint: Owning two cars is often less convenient. All of those points up there are totally true there’s no getting around the fact that two cars with different properties does have you covered in more situations. That said I still don’t have one I can easily parallel park on a hill! As convenient as choice is there are lots of other things that aren’t so convenient. I often have to move one around the yard because it’s in the way. Plus after it snows there are two to shovel out, scrape and brush off. Getting the tiers changed on one is an hour stop into the mechanics during the day. With two it’s half a day and a day that takes precision planning twice a year. There are twice the trips to the DMV and twice the waiting, plus one has a trailer that has to be registered too. Even if you don’t really want to drive one on a certain day you have to every week to keep it going. Plus I like to spend a day really detailing mine a few times a year, now that’s a whole weekend! One always seems to need a part or an oil change so you have to drive the less convenient on that day anyway. At my moms all three of us had a car and the driveway was only 2 vehicles wide. I remember spending 15% of my late teens finding keys to move one car, moving it to the other side blocking the other car, running those keys back into the house and then leaving in my car which was annoying pretty much every single time. Plus one time I forgot there was a car behind me and….

Point: You have a spare. The first truck we bought was so crappy that we knew keeping the second car would definitely be a good idea for when it eventually broke. Guess which one broke in a big way though? The ‘good’ one! Because I had a spare I could leave it at the mechanics for a few weeks and let him fix it when he was less busy and give me a deal. If something is wrong with one, like an ABS light comes on and freaks you out, no big deal just drive the other one. I’ve never really been in a position based on where I live to be able to loan my car to someone else because we have to be in them so much. Now when someone visits I can just fill up the tank and hand them the keys. The last time I lent out my only car I had to cycle 10k one direction for groceries then 12k the other way to raid my mom’s garden in the heat. Perfect day for me not so great if you have to move a chop saw.

Counterpoint: That’s mostly true actually. Having a spare is great but showing up to teach in a truck with visible holes isn’t always a perfect ‘spare car’ situation. One of the main reasons I’m holding on to the Sube is that our work truck is often full at the end of the day when I need to leave to teach. It would cause tension and more driveway mess if I had to unload it in a rush every night just to reload it again in the morning. 

Point: You deserve it. Lots of times having a second car is a sign that you’ve arrived and often times its a fancy sports car. If you have extra money and that’s how you want to spend it then good for you right? I actually have a few family members and we know one customer that bought their second (super fancy) cars when they were actually young men. For one his Aston Martin is probably his longest relationship. Sure it’s probably not the best use of extra money but we all have our things right? I honestly don’t think owning a second fancy car is really even on the top ten list of bad uses of funds. I know a couple of people that even build their second cars which I think is super cool, it’s also their hobby. Just like race day is the pay off for a runner so is a car show for a gear head! If that’s how you want to spend your extra cash then that’s cool. Plus if you think about it is pretty easy to sell a car if you need to. I’m never getting anything back out of all those race medals hanging downstairs.

Counterpoint: There are better ways to spend that cash. I’m going to go easy here because I really do think that owning and especially building a second car is a good enough way to indulge yourself. But… depending on the cash you’re laying on the line it could go to a better use. If you’re looking at spending 40k or more then that is the down payment on a rental property and that is probably the smarter choice. Plus remember whatever you spend on a car it will go down in value over time basically to nothing. If it’s still worth it for you then go for it!

So I really thought I’d have a clear choice of what I should do with my second car at this point but you know what I don’t. Sure I could sell it for a couple thousand dollars but not enough to really change anything in my life. I don’t have another desire or need for that money at the moment so… But it does mostly just sit there. See I’m still conflicted! I think I’m mostly keeping it because of the odd trip or weekend outing we do but really, we work all the time and I could always rent a car once a year. Truthfully this winter when it was slippery I was more comfortable in the 4WD truck with weight in it and it really boils down to the fact that I just want to keep it. Probably because I like driving a standard so much and it’s proven itself to be super safe! Do you own a second car? What’s your number one reason for keeping it and what would make you sell it? What should I do? Leave it in the comments below!

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