A car short

We’ve been a car short for about a year now. Frank’s been doing his 60 mile roundtrip commute in our F350 diesel truck which is just bad. Bad for the environment, bad for our budget, bad for parking. Just not good. I, on the other hand, am driving my 1998 Pontiac convertible which I love but which really doesn’t fit anyone over 2 years old very well in the back seat. (I still make our 10 year old and 4 year old sit back there though. And every time they think about complaining, I remind them of the cars I used to sit in. Imagine 6,000 miles each summer in a VW bug with 5 people!)

But, eventually, we should buy a new car if only so Frank can get better gas mileage on his commute. (And yes, I know, I could drive the truck and let him take my car but have you ever tried to park an F350 in a crowded parking lot?)

But the main thing that keeps me from buying a new car is I don’t know which car I want. And I have to sit in them to decide. Internet research just isn’t enough. I want to sit in it. And eventually I suppose I’ll want to drive the last couple of contenders. So today we decided to go sit in a couple. So in a couple of months, or 6 to 12, when we finally decide to buy one, we’ll know what we want.

Only today is the last business day of the month for car salesmen. That is a terrible, terrible day to go see a car.

Keep in mind that all I wanted to do was sit in the car. To me the most important thing after gas mileage and price is “how comfortable is the car?” I already knew all the info about the car. And if I didn’t, I had my phone to look it up on.

The guys at the first dealership totally ignored everything I said. We said it was my car – they talked to Frank. I said I didn’t want a 4WD car – they went on and on about the benefits of the 4WD Jeep they’d just gotten that day. I said I wanted something that fit Frank’s shoulders – they took forever to let us try sitting in each car so we could eliminate it quickly. We left.

The guy at the second dealership was Russian who apologized for his accent – which was funny. I actually liked him. But he kept going on and on about each car. And I already knew all the info about each car. I just wanted to sit in it! And he showed us a car that reeked of smoke. And a car that didn’t fit Frank’s shoulders at all. But eventually he seemed to get the hang of what we wanted to do. And he gave our 4 year old a ride in the golf car which made his day.

Car dealers want to sell cars on the last day of the month.

So, moral of the story, if you just want to sit in cars to see what they are like, don’t go on the last day of the month.

Save more gas switching from 15 to 18mpg than from 50 to 100mpg

I saw this on Eric de Place’s blog and although not immediately intuitive, he’s right:

You save more fuel switching from a 15 to 18 mpg car than switching from a 50 to 100 mpg car.

Driving 20,000 miles

15 mpg 18 mpg 50 mpg 100 mpg
1333 gallons  1111 gallons  400 gallons  200 gallons 

So going from 15mpg to 18mpg, you’d save 220 gallons, but doubling your mileage from 50mpg to 100mpg would only save you 200 gallons a year, assuming you drove 20,000/year. So it really is important to pay attention to the car you pick’s gas mileage, even if it’s only a few miles more per gallon than another one.

Cheap car with good gas mileage: Yaris

I’m not in the market for a car right now but I ran into this one and I was really happy to see a four door car with 40mpg that prices for less than $14,000 new!  Toyota.com : Vehicles : Yaris

If I got 40mpg, I think I’d save $150/month.  The car would be paid for in a year!

12/8/06: Somebody should have pointed out that my math was off by a factor of 10!  The car would be paid off in 10 years.

That said, we went and sat in a Yaris today.  It was a bit narrow for Frank’s shoulders but had room for the car seat.  It had lots of cupholders but manual windows.