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Friday, May 8, 2015

The car decision



My lovely wife and I knew we'd have to get a replacement for my wife's car when we got back home. We've been looking on-line at different models, reading reviews, and trying to decide what we really wanted. Then there's the cost issue as we are both on fixed incomes.

To complicate the issue, we weren't really sure what we wanted to do with the second car. Did we want something that could tow a boat? Perhaps we wanted something we could take tent camping? Super high mileage? Diesel? Gas? Maybe even electric? Pay cash? Finance?

We decided against getting another diesel. The newer diesels don't convert well to run on waster vegetable oil. The older vehicles that do convert more easily are . . . well . . . old. The ones we looked at either were beat, car show quality (and expense) or sorta suspicious. Would you buy a car with Uruguay plates from guys who sounded like gangsters?

One thing we did decide on was to no longer use our veggie van as a daily driver. That will save on wear and tear and we can save it for camping and boat towing.

I was really tempted by a used Ford Ranger. It was in good mechanical shape and had a manual transmission for better fuel economy. My lovely wife even took it out for a test drive. She liked it but was not in love with it. For me, one big downside was that it would soon need some body work. Frankly, I'm sick of patching up vehicles.

Then we went to a big dealership and talked to a salesman who we knew and trusted. He pretty much expected us to be looking for a beater. It's been decades since we bought a new car. We've driven a lot of older diesels. Then there were a couple of cars my daughters drove when they were in school, but didn't want to continue the payments after they graduated. They wanted brand new cars. The cars we got from the kids did the job, but they weren't something we picked out for ourselves.

We looked at many many cars. It was a long long day at the dealership. We were tempted by a Honda Insight. I found it a much more comfortable car than the Toyota Prius. In the end, the price was a bit more than I wanted to spend, plus hybrids are complicated cars mechanically. There were a lot of later model used cars we rejected from one reason or another. Sometimes it was due to them having too many miles on the odometer. Other times it was low mpg ratings.

In the end we went with a new car, but very low end and basic. We decided on a Nissan Versa Note hatchback. It's roomy for its size and I fit in it quite well. The hatchback gives us the room if we want to load up some camping gear or tools. Since it's a new car it has modern safety features which is important when hauling grandkids around. We went with the manual transmission, saving some money and adding a bit of driving fun. It's rated 36 mpg on the highway, which is pretty good without the added complexity of a hybrid.

Why new? I decided I didn't want to spend all my time fixing cars. There are other projects that are a lot more enjoyable. That's the reason we sprung for the extended warranty. It's a fairly small monthly payment. In fact, since we refinanced the house last year a much lower rate, there was some room in our budget.

What about Peak Oil and end the Petroleum Age? Yeah, I think that's a real thing. However, estimates on how we'll be affected by such an even have been way off. People adapt. Besides, if the worse predictions came true, a bank repossession will be the least of my worries.

So that was the thinking behind our car buying.

-Sixbears

26 comments:

  1. Glad you found a car you like. Since you like to travel look at a tow hitch for it . A small lite trailer hitch allows for a lot of options and U Haul has them for most cars. Bet it would pull the goose. Our Mitsubishi eclipse pulls our teardrops and aluminum boat . Enjoy the new car and use it its why buy them.

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    1. A hitch is definitely something I'm looking into. Roof racks will come first though. Very handy for canoes or if I want to take a few 2X4s home.

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    2. A tow hitch might void your warranty. Yikes.

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    3. Will have to look into that . . .

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  2. Congratulations and good on ya!

    I know exactly what you are talking about when it comes to fixing cars anymore. I thought my Dad was just getting lazy when he finally realized he was done with it years ago but now I am almost there myself.
    I worked on new cars for a living for ten years and still have all the tools I used but they are starting to get a little rusty in places from lack of use.
    There was trend starting in the late eighties that continues to this day that the engine bay in cars kept getting closer and closer to the ground and jam packed with crap so tight that you have to disassemble half the freaking motor to get to something .
    I finally called it quits when Ford started putting large plastic covers over their engines so you couldn't even see them anymore.

    They said flat out back in the early nineties that they did not want customers working on their own cars anymore and they meant it.

    Getting the extended warranty can be a hit or miss, you have to really really really read the fine print on some of those sonsabitches.

    I still say good on ya though. enough is enough, you don't have to worry about your wife getting stranded somewhere on the way home and if the damn thing does break down then someone else gets to fix it, for free.

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    1. My wife has put up with a lot of unreliable cars. It's time she get's a break. I need a break from lying on my back in the mud turning wrenches.

      Like you said, they are getting harder for the home mechanic to fix anyway.

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  3. Sounds like a reasonable decision; hope it serves you well!

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    1. I hope so too! Should do the job.

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  4. Outstanding decision. Daily driver is a really tricky path to make work. At 36mpg you can't argue with being frugal. Suppose clearance on that thing is maybe bottle cap height? Lol.

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    1. Yeah, it's not a jeep. Guess I'm not off roading with this little beast. However, should be good for most everything else.

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  5. It sounds like a sound decision. Yes, working on new cars (2005 >) is becoming very challenging. Many parts stores refuse to even having stock in the back, choosing to order as the need comes in. Too many built-in electronics - just more to go wrong. DIY repairs / maintenance is becoming too time consuming.

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    1. I'd rather play with boats than repair cars at this point in my life.

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  6. Congrats on the new wheels! Oldest son got a good deal on a Kia - manual trans, no perks in it - even has roll up window door handles! He loves the gas mileage, too!

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    1. Good for him. The only Kias on the lot had too many bells and whistles for me, so the price wasn't right.

      Now that gas prices are lower it's a good time to buy a gas sipper. There will be no more rebates when gas prices go up again.

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  7. Congrats! Saw a pic of the Mrs. with the new wheels and it looks excellent!

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    1. She's happy. Can you tell from the photo?

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  8. I figured you would be looking for a truck, but I guess if you are keeping the ambulance, why get a truck. BTW, I thought that it took a hundred thousand miles just to break in a new car???

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    1. It was a hard decision, but the van will keep doing most of the work a truck does anyway. They'd like us to think new cars can go a million miles, but I'm not betting on it.

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  9. The cost of that full-coverage insurance prolly spoiled the fun of new car ownership a little.

    Congrats on the new ride!

    -Moe

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    1. I get what I consider to be reasonable rates -and I'm generally pretty cheap. Usually I'm paying less than just about anyone I know. Paying more on a new car is a given, but that's been factored in.

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  10. Sounds like a good decision to me. If Momma is happy...all is well!

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  11. I got a used Honda Insight from Carmax last year. I L.O.V.E. how it sips gas. It makes filling up a lot less painful.

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  12. I think it's great that you settled on the decision to buy a new car, instead of a used one. To be honest, I think you dodged a bullet in there. After all, there are lots of problems that can come side-by-side with buying an old car. Anyway, I hope you're enjoying your new Versa Note hatchback. Thanks for sharing that! Drive safely! :)

    Diane Wilson @ Fletcher Chrysler

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