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Car Updates

September 16th, 2018 at 06:55 am

I've personally never had a pristine vehicle. When I bought the minivan (1-year-new/excellent condition) it was hit the day after I bought it (hit and run, while parked). The damage was cosmetic only and so we chose to never repair it. My first car had been hit more times than I remember. Anyway, over time, I just embraced it. It's hard to feel much motivation towards something really pretty and nice (and expensive), when it's out in the world getting beat up anyway. Kind of funny now that I think about it. The van came into my life and went out with a bang. In contrast, MH's cars are never in accidents and have never had so much as a scratch.

To say I am a little nervous, is an under-statement. This vehicle replaces "my" car, even if it's all been very 50/50 since we have had kids.

In the end, when I asked for some pre-buying insurance quotes, insurance agent sent over some quotes with really low deductibles. Not sure why, because we have the largest deductible possible on everything. But in the end, it was so cheap that I decided to just go with it. I don't want to be worrying about spending another $1,000+ on a cosmetic repair if someone slams into my new car tomorrow. Was something like $150/$250 deductibles. I will just go with that for a while and then we can re-evaluate in 6-12 months.

I actually drove our older car to "new employer city" Friday to drop off my employment paperwork. Met "twin" briefly but she was slammed with her job. I had made more plans to have a very long/late lunch with her, and then kill some time before an afternoon meeting. Instead, I drove home in between. Car was making such bad noises that I took the Volt for trip #2. (Didn't really want to drive it in Friday traffic, but it ended up being okay). It's very counter-intuitive because the more city driving you do and the more you brake the more fuel efficiency you get (both gas and electric). I had enough electric charge to get there, but drove gas on the way home. I was dumbfounded that we still seem to be getting 50mpg. We really thought we would buy this car for shorter trips and then use the other one for longer trips. I am now thinking this is the car for any trip.

We have a long trip today! So, will see how that goes. It will be a good test, because we do drive out of town so much to see our family.

Oh, and that 50mpg was with, "No idea what we are doing" driving. After Friday? I had to drive MM(15) to the animal shelter yesterday (volunteer shift). Had enough electricity just to get there. I realized I should hold some electric charge for the few traffic lights between the freeway in our house (return trip). So I did do that. I guess that's the strategy at this point. I am sure we still have much to learn.

We did take out "electric car buff" friend for dinner last night, to pick his brain a bit. We knew he'd want to see it too. One of the most useful tips he told us was to only buy a gallon or two of gas at a time, unless you know you are going out of town. Otherwise the gas can get stale.

Oh, and we can save $250-ish buying a fast charger at Costco. We may do that today (with one of our parent's memberships). We are probably going to be moving quick on that (versus my initial presumption that there would be no rush). The reason is we will get much lower electric rates if we can limit charging between midnight and 6am. Also, the slow charge is supposed to be 12 hours but we are finding it is more like 20 hours (to full charge). It may be we can increase it a bit, but my dad (who has a lot of electrical knowledge) was away and unreachable. We have such a new home (modern wiring) I didn't think it would really matter, but he told me yesterday he would not increase the charging speed without consulting an electrician. It's a question we will ask tomorrow, we have one coming out for a quote. It may just be my dad is being cautious, since everyone is kind of, "It should only take 12 hours". There is a setting we didn't change in the car, for faster charging with a regular outlet, because it had a scary warning.

As to electric car buff, I think he is a lot of the reason we ended up going the "electric car" route. My visceral reaction was more definitely, "No way." But the more he talked about it, the more he swayed us. He initially had a lease for an all electric car that cost pennies. At that time it was his only car, but he had free parking at his job downtown, in turn. Which entirely paid for the lease (which was heavily subsidized with tax credits and so on). Then he also didn't have fuel expenses. He was just kind of, "You have two cars? Do you REALLY need two cars that can drive 300 miles?" Honestly and truly? No. So I think at that point in time there was some realization that an electric car would be very practical for MH's mostly 6-mile round trips, all city driving. If he could have convinced us sooner, honestly we probably could have leased for $100/month (where we live). It took me too long (years) to decide that was kind of "almost too good to be true." But by then, those deals were long gone. Other than that, I'd say we are very range picky, because we do spend so much time driving to see family/friends around 120 miles away. But I do also realize that we never in a million years would need two cars to do that. (& in the rare instance it does happen, it's not like there aren't any other options).

I think one thing I also like is this whole idea of skipping the chore of getting gas. I really try to limit how much time I spend on errands and the such. & that was also another thing that really appealed about going electric (if you can just charge mostly at home; maybe also wherever you happen to be).

Anyway, this is one reason I want to share so much of the process as we dive in. If anyone can get anything at all out of me sharing information they maybe never considered.

In other randomness, MH fount out yesterday he can play movies in the car, like on the main display. He was totally freaking out with excitement. It's actually kind of funny because I told him I just left the car on the entire time I waited for MM at the animal shelter yesterday (2 hours) and MH was completely horrified. Not sure the thought would have occurred to me otherwise, but was thought to TABS and his car-living experience. I will say that will be *so nice* during our hot summers when I can just sit in the car with the A/C. It just hit me that it's not the same as idling a regular car for two hours. Absolutely nothing like that! Best I can tell, I lost one mile of driving charge. Anyway, in the end, I think MH Will follow my lead. You can't watch the movies while the car is out of park, but point is that we sit around a lot waiting for kids. So yeah, I think MH changed his tune already on that front.

We haven't done very well finding free or very low cost places to charge the car. It will take some research. But MH found a free charger right by the animal shelter. WOW! Before I took new job, that was our "big" drive. Is about 21 miles each way, and feels crazy far away. We believe we can get free electricity one way, every trip, if I can just sit and charge at this charger for 2 hours. The vast majority of the time, I just sit in the car and wait for anyway. Is just hard to do that in the middle of summer. Then I end up running errands (for the A/C!) and usually spending more money. So I am guessing this is money saved in multiple ways. We are going to check it out next time.

I don't remember how or why this even came up, but I am probably going to get the windows tinted next week. Maybe saw some car post online or something. It sounds like it will be $150-ish to do the back windows (which is all we can do legally) at a place near my old job with all 5-star reviews. I may just go over there Friday morning and then pick up my paycheck on the way home. (It's payday and is when I expect to get my final check). This car would look so nice with tinted windows, but is also would be very practical in our very hot summers. I think MH thinks I have lost my mind, but he is sensitive to the sun and I think that he will thank me when all is said and done. I just think it would be a really nice and affordable finishing touch.

Oh, and I may have found a $500 rebate for car purchase. I added that to my list of things to do when we get the plates and registration.

I will definitely be tracking and blogging about actual fuel/electricity costs. The bar to beat is set pretty low at this point because we replaced a gas guzzling minivan. The goal is to lower our fuel costs (gas & electricity) with the doubling of my work commute.

3 Responses to “Car Updates”

  1. rob62521 Says:

    I never thought about gas getting stale, but it makes sense. Learned something new today!

  2. LuckyRobin Says:

    How is the car for comfort and roominess? Particularly in the back seat for long-legged boys?

  3. MonkeyMama Says:

    @LR - I just asked MM, who sat in back for 5 hours Sunday. He said it's smaller but *shrugs* But I have to add the comment that we are "small car" people and I was mostly using the van for my solo freeway commute. (We were driving it so little, I decided I might as well rack up some miles on it versus our nicer car). So I more consider our other small car the long-term van replacement, because it is roomy on the inside; that is the car my kids ride in most the time. So I know it sounds like a huge adjustment, but it's not if you dislike your gas guzzling van and mostly never use it in the first place.

    I will say this was a concern of mine and I think it was a little tighter in the older Volt models. It's a hatchback and it clearly affects headroom. But it's more than ample for us.

    We were very heavily leaning towards the Nissan Leaf for a long time because it's more like our other car. Super small on the outside, but the inside is surprisingly roomy. The inside is really nice on that car. The battery/technology has more to overcome.

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