Best way to acquire a car for 3-9 months or so?
November 1, 2004 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Any advice/suggestions on acquiring a car for an 'intermediate' period of time (3, 6, ok, maybe 9 months)? {more inside}

I currently live and work in downtown Chicago and have not owned a car for quite some time now. I may be starting on a new job assignment located in the suburbs within a few weeks and, obviously, I’m going to need a way to get there everyday. Unfortunately however, public transit isn’t going to help me in this case. I have the means to buy a car, but I’d really prefer not to as this assignment could very well be over in about 6 months (give or take) and I don’t want to end up back in the city ‘full-time’ making payments on a car I don’t need.

Does anybody have any advice/suggestions/experience on how to go about getting hold of a car for an intermediate period of time without buying one? Long term rentals, short term leases, buying a super cheap used car, or just biting the bullet and buying a new one? BLEH!!! And thanks!
posted by mathis23 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
My guess would be that buying a reliable used car would be the best bet.

You could probably buy a used Honda Accord and resell it the same year for about the same price you paid for it. Buying a new car would be the worst option, as you would take the immediate depreciation hit.
posted by reverendX at 7:40 PM on November 1, 2004

I am nearly *positive* that BMW does a 6 month lease. Their service rocks (not that you'd need to bring a new BMW into service in just 6 months). Plus they're generally leniant if you go over their mileage, well if you're staying with them.

You can probably get by with a low-end 3-series for slighty less then $500/month. That's just $3000.

BMWs are somewhat like the Macs of the motor world. You just have to drive it and you'll love it. Plus they treat you very, very well. Or maybe I'm just a sucker.
posted by geoff. at 8:52 PM on November 1, 2004

I have checked out many a car on leasetrader (with an r) . com. It's pretty cool and many people are trying to get out of leases, so there's deals to be found.

I've seen cars there with short terms of under a year, but fewer with terms of under 6 months. I figure that once you're down around six months, it's easier to eat the last few months or lend it to a friend or family member instead of trying to swap it out on lease trader.

I'd seriously consider a late model honda or toyota. For the same $3000 that geoff suggests above, you could get a pretty reliable auto (admittedly, one that would be a lot less exciting to drive than a bmw 325) and own it outright. In 6 months, if your gig ends, you can turn around and sell it for something close to your purchase price. If you find, like I did, that having a car in Chicago let's one have 1000% more fun, then you can keep it.

[Note: I lived in Chicago's southside at the University of Chicago, so it was a bus and a train (with a brisk 15 minute wait in the middle of the freeway) to downtown. If you live on the northside, you're golden without a car. Except for the burbs.]
posted by zpousman at 6:14 AM on November 2, 2004

posted by grateful at 8:30 AM on November 2, 2004

It might be worth calling a local car rental agency and seeing if they have any deals on a long-term rental. If you have a credit card that provides automatic rental insurance, you'll handily dodge paying car insurance that way.
posted by mosch at 10:52 PM on November 2, 2004

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