I swore I wouldn’t even think about replacing my Subaru, but…

…my beloved Impreza now has over 100k and needs a really expensive repair if I’m going to have a working a/c. (The high mileage honestly doesn’t bother me much; Subarus live forever if you maintain them, from what I’ve been told by people who’ve driven them into the ground.) And just to be clear: I’m not actually replacing my Subaru, I’m only thinking about the possibility. And if I did, there’s no question of what I’d replace it with: I’ve had Prius Envy since about 2004. (Okay, given my druthers I’d probably go for a SmartCar, but I have two kids to schlep around, and it has only two seats. That’s fairly easy math.)

I don’t suppose I really need a working a/c.  I don’t have many more summer gigs for which I need to arrive all pretty and perspiration-less, and most of those I have are in the morning anyway when the weather  is usually cooler. I’ve made it halfway through June with a sporadic a/c, and while it’s uncomfortable, it’s not like I’m dying or anything.

I did the math on gas mileage, for example: if I drive about 9000 miles a year, which may be an overshoot but it’s hard to say, and gas stays at about $3/gallon, I’d save over $3000 over five years on gas alone (with the accompanying use-of-less-gas-and-fewer-emissions benefit) by switching to a Prius. And now that there are some older-model, higher-mileage Priuses on the used car lots, we could get one for not too much money, especially if I can get a decent trade-in on my Subaru.

Food for thought.

In the “con” column–my attachment to this particular car, the first and only one I ever bought new.  I love my car.  And it has all-wheel drive, which is nice in Chicago winters.  (But now we have another all-wheel-drive car…so it’s not as crucial…)

Anyway, my husband sent me this really interesting interactive Scientific American website, which details the impact hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric cars will have on oil consumption and power grids in different parts of the country, and what impact reducing our use of gasoline will have on our need for coal and natural gas.  Fascinating…and more food for thought. (UPDATE: more such food: check out this website on Electric Vehicle Efficiency put together by my friend Cathy and her husband…)

So…do any of my readers drive, or know someone who drives, a Prius? Especially someone who’s taken theirs over the 100K mark? Does it stay good, keep working well, keep its good mileage, have some built in horrible repair that will need to happen within a few miles of the 100k? (I’ve heard rumors of that, but not from anyone who’s been through it.)

Not doing.  Just thinking. I’m trying to lose a few pounds, so food for thought is about all I’m getting right now…

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Posted on June 22, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I don’t have any Prius experience to input on the vehicle situation, but felt the need to provide some sort of food for thought to keep you from starvation!
    How much is the repair needed compared to the fuel savings compared to having car payments? (I am assuming the Suburu is paid off) I would suggest looking at it from those angles as well if you aren’t already.

  2. Recent behavior notwithstanding, I am an adherent of NOT looking at fuel savings as a reason to trade in a working non-hybrid for a hybrid. You really need to save a LOT of fuel to pay for the increased cost of a newer car. Can you make it thru the rest of the summer (summer just started actually!!) without AC? If so then you have fall, winter, and spring to research some of your questions. I have heard, tho, that when you need to replace the batteries in a hybrid it is pretty expensive – about the cost of new AC. Is your present car in good repair and SAFE except for the AC? (If so, Id fix the AC even tho it greener not to use AC at all it is pretty nice to have it!)

  3. We looked at it from the point of view that a new car is a new car is a new car. Car manufacture is horrendous on the environment, and you could argue there’s no such thing as a green new car.

    So when we sold our 2 year old Nissan and moved to New Zealand, we replaced it with an 18 year old safe wreck. It does everything we need it to, drives well, and is actually as economical as most of the new cars that come out today.

    Emissions-wise, yes it uses more oil per km than a Prius, but when yo consider the amount of energy a Prius takes *to produce* buying an older car comes out WAY ahead in the green stakes. You have to think about the amount of energy a product takes to manufacture as well as what it uses in its life cycle, you see.

    We also paid $2300 instead of $35000 – enough of a difference to make us sit up and take notice!

    I think Priuses are just another way of *looking* green, rather than being green, myself.

    In your position, I’d run the current car into the ground. Subarus are excellent cars – there’s no reason why you can’t have it another decade or more.

    And if you want to buy a new car, you really have to ask – are you doing it to be green, or to impress people with the image of you being green?

    I know these are tough questions, but they’re the questions we asked ourselves too. And it was tough when we realised what the real answers were – we wanted a Prius to seem green and present a green image, and to look funky. It wasn’t about the environment at all. It was about us.

  4. Thanks, all–good thoughts.

    Leanne, I totally agree with you–and I wanted to clarify, and realize I wasn’t totally clear in the OP–we’re not talking about a NEW prius, we’re talking about a 2004-5 or so high mileage prius that’s almost at the same place, driv-into-the-ground-wise, as mine, only maybe 2-3 years “newer” than the Subaru is. We wouldn’t buy anything we couldn’t pay cash for, and the hopeful goal would be to simply be exchanging (er…for a little more money on our part) a safe but older car with cruddy a/c and 20mpg for an equally safe and not quite as old car with working a/c and 40+mpg. Absolutely no new car–I feel the same way as you, which is why this 2002 Subaru I’m contemplating getting rid of is probably the one and only new car I will ever have.

    I’m not sure I agree that the Prius is a green “pretense” though–I’m in fact really grateful to them, because they presented this option to the public who WENT FOR IT in a huge way, and now auto companies are responding to this big desire for lower gas mileage. I agree that getting rid of a perfectly good car and junking it so that one can get a brand-new “greener” auto isn’t that green, but on the other hand all things being equal, if your life requires that you have a car, a Prius is a greener choice than most, and it’s just about the only such choice on the table right now for most of us. (I like the Insight too, but they are too new and nothing’s used enough yet for me to be able to afford one.)

    In the end, nothing will probably happen–the a/c has sort of magically fixed itself for the moment (the compressor isn’t dead, just dying), and thus I will probably string it along for the summer, which gives me till about next May to make any decisions. No rush.

  5. (and by the way, part of the plan was also to trade in the Subaru while it’s still decent enough that it could be attractive to some other family needing a car just big enough to hold baby seats, which most don’t, which is a crime and a topic for another post, in the hopes that someone else would drive it the REST of the way into the ground, while we drive someone else’s Prius into the ground. If some slimy used car guys make a little money in the process, it still keeps the cars on the road and in use and hopefully is a couple more new cars that don’t need to be built…)

  6. I love my Prius. It’s a 2002 and it’s up to 155,000 miles. Earlier this year we had to replace our catalytic converter, which was pretty expensive, but it sounds like most have to be replaced at 90,000, so ours lasted a long time. Other costly repairs have included brakes (once), windshield (twice), and tires (three times).

    When we first got it (new), we figured it would pay for the extra cost with gas savings in 8 years, but since then the price of gas has gone way up. I haven’t recalculated our estimate, but I’m sure it’s paid for itself by now.

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