Showing posts with label buying a car. Show all posts
Showing posts with label buying a car. Show all posts

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hybrids . . . Are They Worth the Upfront Cost?

When I was trying to think of what to write about this week, I realized I hadn't talked at all about our recent addition.  A few months ago, I took my car in to get the AC checked because it wasn't working.  I figured it just needed a flush as is most cases when the AC doesn't work which isn't that bad.  Of course, with my bad luck of cars in the past few years it ended up being the most expensive part to fix and since I had a VW that part was even more expensive, $900 to be exact.  That is a lot to pay for air conditioning!

Now to give you the full picture, you should know that I only purchased my VW Beetle about a year and a half before then.  Yes it was quite old even then, a '98, but it only had 75,000 miles on it so in car life that's still pretty good.  Little did I realize, this car would give me so many problems, I basically had to take it in every few months.  And I probably ended up spending an extra few thousand on it in that short amount of time.  I really wish I had gone with my feelings when purchasing that car to go with newer and better.

So, this newest $900 quote and a warning that my clutch would be going out soon (also the tires were wearing down) and the fact that it was only two doors, a stick shift which is both annoying at times and my husband didn't even know how to drive, I had had enough.  I would much rather put more money down for a better car than to put more into this one.  So a search began.

This time I did my research.  I had for years wanted a hybrid since the gas mileage was so great.  But last time when I was looking for a car, I realized that better MPG didn't actually save you that much but hybrids were selling for so much more than comparable non hybrids so I didn't actually think it was worth the upfront extra cost.  But my heart still yearned for one (probably just to feel super modern) so I thought I'd look into it again.

I realized that my focus last time, and the focus of many people buying a car that are budget conscious, think too much on mpg, year of the car, and mileage.  What you should be focusing on is . . . maintenance.  Of course!  I had gotten a car that had very low mileage last time and not too bad on gas but the think that was costing lots of money, was the maintenance.

There are two big things to consider when looking for a car:
  1. Reviews: Read reviews from real owners and they'll definitely tell you if the car has issues often or not.
  2. Country of Manufacture: European cars have more expensive parts so even if things do break down, Asian and American parts are generally cheaper to replace as well.
Now that I knew where to focus, I read and read and read all about peoples' opinions of cars.  And I realized that hybrids are not only great on gas but they often require much less maintenance too!  Why is that so?  Well in basic terms (because I don't know that much about cars) since a hybrid doesn't always run off of engine power, there's obviously less wear and tear on the engine (duh!).

But it doesn't just stop there.  There's not as many engine start up problems since the car "turns on" by a battery and the computer then starts the car.  Electronics also help slow down hybrid cars when you release your foot from the gas pedal and even when you start pressing on the brakes so there's less wear on the brakes.  And then I thought more about the mpg and realized that I would almost be doubling my mpg so having to pay half the amount on gas each month DOES add up.

But a lot of people are nervous to buy used hybrids because they hear all about how expensive it is to replace the hybrid battery and if you buy it used, that may need to be replaced soon.  But now that hybrids have been out for over 10 years, there's been a lot more research on it.  Before, there wasn't really an answer because they didn't know for sure how long they would last.  But many people are getting to the 200,000 mile mark without having to replace the battery.  And even then, they realized you don't have to replace the whole thing quite often, you can usually just replace a cell or two which is only a few hundred instead of a few thousand.  It's a fear of the unknown.  As one person pointed out, you take a risk buying any used car.  There are many parts in a standard car that cost a couple thousand to replace that wouldn't be needed in a hybrid.

hybrid car
Anyway, we ended up getting a 2005 Prius with just over 160,000 miles on it.  While the mileage was pretty high, with all the things we know now with the less wear and tear I wasn't too concerned since the previous owner had taken good care of it (and gave us a great deal).  There are many people selling older hybrids to upgrade that still have a good life left and the prices are lowering since there are now so many on the market.

Since I've only had the car about a month, I can't truly say if it's worth it yet.  But it FEELS great!  Plus we took a trip down to Los Angeles (over 300 miles) and while we did fill up because we had stopped for dinner anyway, we wouldn't have had to.  We're averaging 45 mpg in both city and hwy driving which is so awesome!

I'll update later, but for now I think it's totally worth it!

UPDATE:  It's been over 6 months since we've had the car and I still love it!  Now it has just over 180,000 miles on it and it's still running great.  No problems so far (knock on wood) other than the issues with the auxiliary battery early on.  (Read The Prius Auxiliary Battery Saver)