It all started a few days before the new year when I had a car accident. Our guardian angels were with us that day and no one was seriously hurt. That's the good news. The bad news is our family's streak of five-plus years without a car payment has now been broken.
Yes, my 2002 van with 110,000 miles on it was not valuable enough to repair in the eyes of our insurance company. It took us a bit by surprise that our car was totaled. I'm not sure exactly why we were surprised. I guess the dents didn't look so bad from the outside and the car was still drivable. In fact , I drove it for a week until the repair shop was ready for it. But, once we adjusted to the idea we began our search for a new car.
Now we are the proud owners of a 2012 red van. (Red was my choice. After almost 12 years of rental car gold cars, I needed a splash of color.) Throughout the process of crashing, selecting and buying a new car, I have learned a few things.
- Good insurance is better than good when you have an accident. I don't know about Nationwide being on your side but we were definitely in good hands with Allstate!
- I don't like the new car smell. All I can think of is "fumes"!
- In the age of the Internet, researching cars is so much easier. May I recommend cars.com, nada.com and US News & World Report car ratings and reviews.
- Negotiating a price on a car is a lot less scary when you have done your research (see above).
- Stubbornness helps in negotiation. (Finally! A bright side to my stubborn streak.)
- Hybrids are expensive. I really had hoped that our next car purchase would be a hybrid but, for what we needed, it was cost prohibitive for us.
- Keeping your car until it's no longer drivable is green as long as the emissions aren't out of control. Use it till it's used up is a very green concept.
- Making a smart choice of car can be green. It may not be as efficient as a hybrid but my new van gets about 5 miles more per gallon (estimated) than my old car. I'm looking forward to less trips to the gas station.
- Technology can be good for the earth. Here are two green things about my new car-1)an indicator on the dash that tells me when I'm driving most efficiently and, therefore, using less gas, and 2)tires filled with nitrogen instead of air that are supposed to give you even better gas mileage. I'll report back on that one.
- Saving money is also part of being a good steward. The salespeople were trying to up-sell us into a more option-laden vehicle but we resisted the temptation because we're
cheapfrugal. ;) Sure, I'd like leather seats with seat warmers, a sun roof, power sliding doors and built-in GPS system but not enough to pay for them. So, we have a straight-forward cloth seat, manual door van with AC and a CD player that I LOVE! Believe me, It's still a LOT nicer than our old car!
Gotta hit the road!