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Our New Diesel Car

March 13, 2011

Thank you so much for all of the nice comments on my last post. I’m starting to feel a little better about things and hopefully will be getting back to blogging more often.  Some days are more of a struggle than others, as I’m sure you can understand.  But…

The hubs and I purchased in February a “new-to-us” car.  We finally turned in his 2002 Chevy Impala (behemoth gas guzzler) that he bought before he thought more carefully about such things that had 220,000 miles on it.  Pretty good, huh? It definitely served us well, and we definitely drove it into the ground. We had replaced the transmission, muffler, a whole bunch of other serious items (I don’t know that much about car parts) over the years, but the final straw for the car came a few weeks ago.

Driving back home with some friends after a raucous night of bowling (yes, raucous!) a huge slab of ice fell off the top of a big SUV in front of us who hadn’t bothered to clean off the top of their car.  K swerved into the next lane trying to avoid it, but it hit the passenger side, which I sitting on. It was quite the jolt and at first I thought the windshield was shattered, but upon further reflection, only the side mirror was destroyed – completely gone.  Of course the SUV hightailed it out of there, although I DID manage to get their license plate.

At the toll plaza, we pulled over and called the cops.  When they came 20 minutes later, they wrote up a report and took the license plate, but said that legally there was nothing that could be done for us. I thought there was a law in NYS that you had to clean off the top of your car, but apparently not. There should be though, right? That was scary and DANGEROUS! If you can’t clean off the top of your car, it’s TOO BIG!!

To replace the mirror assembly and all of that, it would have cost a few hundred dollars, and with that and the fact that the car was so old, it just didn’t make much sense to put anymore money into a 220,000 mile car.  So we set off on a search for a new one.

Some requirements we had – a family car, for the family that one day we hope to be ours.  Good cargo space, for those trips to the hardware store for building things or camping trips where we need to transport canoes.  Good gas mileage – K had seen the benefits of my tiny, crappy, Honda Civic, and regretted his Impala more than once.  Good safety stats, lots of airbags and stuff.

Of course, in our heads we all had a million things we WANTED, but wouldn’t necessarily be willing to pay for.  K loves power in his cars, but he soon realized that power came at the expense of gas mileage. I would love a sun roof, but is it really necessary? Of course not.

We also knew we wanted to buy used.  A new car loses 20% of its value the moment it’s driven off the lot. We felt confident we could find a “like new” certified used car for a less than “new” price.

We briefly (very briefly) contemplated an SUVs or crossovers, because, I admit it, sometimes I feel a little “keeping up with the Joneses” jealousy that I think most people feel.  But it just didn’t feel right – we felt like hypocrites. While I feel like SUVs are necessary in certain areas of the country, ours isn’t one of them.  And to be honest, the mileage sucked.  Gas prices are just going to keep going up and we already have been trying to limit our petroleum usage as much as possible the last few years.  So what could we buy that felt family-oriented but still had good mileage?

K had talked about buying diesel for awhile.  Now, diesel back in the day was considered a dirty fuel, but today’s modern diesel is much different, as there are new regulations for sulfur content and diesel engines have improved technologically as well. In fact, a 2010 Swiss government report says modern diesels are even cleaner than electric cars, (besides the fact that most of the electricity in our country comes from coal-burning power plants) since there is still the unknown factor of what will be done with all those lithium ion batteries after the cars are done being used.

In addition to all of this, diesel also gets 25-30% better gas mileage, even though it costs a bit more than regular gasoline.  On average, diesel gasoline is about 10% more than regular gas, but because it gets so much better mileage, it saves you money in the end.

So we decided to look at the Jetta Sportwagon TDI. A modern stationwagon to be sure, but sportier and NOT an SUV.  At 42mpg/highway, we were really impressed.

Then we found a 2010 with only 9,000 miles on it, certified used from a dealer in our area! With $8K off the new price, PLUS an extended warranty that covers us for 11 (ELEVEN!) years from the date of the original purchase or 160,000 miles, whichever comes first, we were sold.  SOLD!!

Source: Evox Images from http://www.newmotors.com

The great thing about having a diesel engine is that we can run biodiesel through it. Unlike the fossil fuels which still, unfortunately make most cars run, the diesel engine can also run on biodiesel, whcih comes from the oils in animal and/or vegetable oils.

To keep our car in warranty we can’t use diesel with more than 20% biodiesel (the biodiesel we use is from soybeans), but if ever needed it can be converted to using only biodiesel.

I love feeling good about what I’m driving.  In this purchase I feel like we stayed true to our values and got a kick ass “new” car.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011 10:26 am

    I’ve definitely been considering either a hybrid or diesel car for our next car. Right now I’m driving a little hatchback that gets about 34 mpg, which is better than some cars. Hopefully, I’ll be able to afford something better in the next few years. Congrats on your new car.

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