cars! cars! cars!

b/c of all the driving I’ve been doing I have been thinking a lot about my car. Like, will it make it? it’s got 187K (more or less, probably more, the speedometer doesn’t work that often but when it does it says I’m going faster than I really am, so…) on it. It’s got the original clutch, and believe you me it is getting more and more obvious lately. It has the original timing belt, and that’s something that ought to be replaced around 90K before it breaks in a spectacularly destructive fashion.

my stepsister works at a auto dealership and she said maybe she could get me a discount on a used car. So I started thinking about what kind of a car I would get to replace “Florence the Low-Brow Villain” (tm the Car Talk Name Generator that I can’t find right now) should she give up the ghost. Never mind that it is absolutely a foreign concept for me to actually buy a car while my old one still works — you have to understand that I am the auto graveyard in my family. I get the cars at the end of their useful life, and I drive them until they break. I complete the life cycle! I conserve by reusing!

so, I came up with a list of things that are very important to me when considering a car, and here they are in ranked order:
1. super efficient gas mileage (flo gets about 40 highway, and towards 30 city driving)
2. a little bitty car, sub-compact preferably but a compact is ok
3. a stick shift and
4. a backseat.
Oh, and it ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT be red. I drive too fast as it is to attract any more authoritative attention.

With a list like that, I’m not really sure what kind of a car I could get! Most hybrids are going to CVT technology and don’t have manual transmissions any more. Other used cars may have gas mileage as high as 30 mpg, so a used slightly efficient car might be an option. At least with that option a manual transmission would probably be cheaper. But the cars probably won’t be tiny. Here’s a life cycle/benefit-cost analysis question: is it better to purchase an expensive new hybrid, or to continue as the end of life person, reusing old cars until they’re gone? I can’t tell right now. The answer probably includes things like projected costs of gasoline, discount rates, anticipated required car repairs, insurance premiums, and time costs should vehicles break. If I want to include externalities like emissions factors, well, that might really get messy.

I’m going to hold on to my car until it breaks because 1. she works really good, and 2. I don’t need a car payment while I’ve got grad. school style credit card balances to pay off. But if I were to get a car right now I might be seriously considering a used honda insight. There are 2000 models online for about $9K, but they have ~80K miles on them. However: they get great gas mileage (about 61 mpg average) and it would be a used car, so I wouldn’t be freaked out about owning something new and expensive. The no back seat thing is kind of a drag, but I am thinking of it like this: now that I’m commuting to and from work in a CAR, I’m driving a LOT by my self. Say, 7 hours a week. Even if I went on longer trips it would probably be by myself too, or with just one other person. The only time I need more seats than 2 in my car are when I’m in albany and my bro, nephew and I go somewhere (he’s got a 2 seater too) or when I’m camping and we all pile into cars to go somewhere for dinner. I’m not the only one of my friends with a car anymore, there are lots of other people with vehicles to drive if we need to car pool. So if I need a car with a back seat I might as well RENT ONE. what a freeing, groundbreaking and revolutionary concept! I am so into it.