My beater has passed 170,000 miles. I couldn’t get the key to turn the other day, and the steering column wouldn’t lock.

Rather than spend a day ripping my car apart, I had it towed to a dealership where I was told it would cost $900 to repair. A spring had broken and the column lock pin had fallen into the key mechanism. I told the mechanic to throw the pin and spring away because I don’t care if the column locks, I just don’t want it to lock while I’m driving down the freeway. I’m going to hotwire the switch, which means I also won’t need an ignition key. So, for now I can continue to drive it, but only until I find a replacement.

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We are a two-car family. My wife drives a Prius and I am driving an ’89 Cherokee. I haul heavy stuff in it fairly often and use it to visit my forest property on logging roads once in a blue moon. Otherwise, it sits idle most of the time, thanks to my hybrid electric bike and working out of my home.

I’m thinking Yaris hatchback with a trailer hitch and a roof rack. I should still be able to haul stuff around the city now and then using my fold up trailer, and put other things in a cargo carrier for longer trips. I can rent a truck when I need to haul big stuff.

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I’ll tell you what else I like about a Yaris. It has electric steering. I have a pipe dream of modifying one with A123 batteries and an electric motor to drive the back wheels. Most cars need the engine running to drive pumps, which drive their power steering and brakes. With electric steering, I can turn the motor off and run the power steering on batteries. My wife and kids want me to get something bigger because we have always relied on the Jeep to haul the big stuff around. I don’t know. I think we could live without it — but a Yaris might be a mistake. What should I do?