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Driving a hybrid vehicle
Posted: 09 April 2013 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Does anyone have advice on determining when the mpg a vehicle gets, and costs per month, justifies purchasing a new car that gets excellent mpg (I am hearing about a lot of fierce competition around 40 mpg)? I have a vehicle that I am paying on that gets 21 city/27 highway. I add about $40 of gas per week. I pay $250 a month for the car payment (which I realize is really low). I suppose I am wondering if a hybrid really would help or if the increased car payment would cancel out the monthly gas payment of my current vehicle.

I do care about the environment a lot and want to make sure I am doing the best I can to mitigate my pollution contribution.

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Posted: 09 April 2013 03:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’m not sure that hybrids are always justified.  I drive a Honda Fit and my father drives a Toyota Prius.  I get as good or better gas mileage, have more usable space, (I’m 6’3”), a quieter car on the highway, and a much lower initial cost.  I wouldn’t trade.  I have nothing against hybrids, except that I can’t really afford one and, in my experience, a small, efficient, gasoline powered car seems to compete with them functionally and economically.  I haven’t looked into the environmental impact issues.

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Posted: 09 April 2013 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Our family has had a different experience than Jeciron. My brother has a Prius and my father has the Fit. My brother consistently gets much better mileage than my father but it just goes to show that lab numbers will differ to some degree depending upon the driver. For that reason you really have to use the stated EPA mileage estimates if you are going to do a calculation so that you are comparing apples to apples. To be as accurate as possible you should also try to estimate the amount of city and highway driving you will be doing.

Since you are leasing the car and making monthly payments the calculation is actually a little easier than if you purchased it because you don’t have to guess at the length of time you will own the car since it doesnt matter in the calculation.

Just look at how many miles per month you are driving now and calculate the amount you would spend on gas driving the same number of miles with the new car. Then compare the difference in monthly gas purchases on the new car to those on the old car and compare that to the the difference in monthly lease payments on the two cars. Of course the comparison will change as the price of cars and gas changes. Higher gas prices favor the hybrid purchase.

When I have done these comparisons in the past it seems that its hard to justify leasing a hybrid because the price premium for the car wipes out any savings in fuel costs. If you purchase the car it works out a little better but only if you keep the car for a longer period of time. The last time I looked at the Prius ( about 5 years ago) the break even point worked out to about 5 years. After that point the gas savings on the Prius made up for the increased costs. The numbers may work out much differently now since gas prices and car prices have both changed.

You also need to look at what you are giving up in comfort and other features and keep in mind that while we all like to go green when possible hybrids require more materials and more energy to produce so they may not be quite as green as they appear on the surface.

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Posted: 09 April 2013 11:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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macgyver - 09 April 2013 05:21 AM

You also need to look at what you are giving up in comfort and other features and keep in mind that while we all like to go green when possible hybrids require more materials and more energy to produce so they may not be quite as green as they appear on the surface.

That is a good point. I have forgotten the exact details, but do remember hearing someone say that some of the hybrids use materials and batteries that are more harmful to the environment when disposed of. I’ve heard that Subaru makes their vehicles in a manner where most all of the vehicles materials and parts are made more earth friendly so the vehicle has less of an impact on the enviroment when finally junked. This is also interesting because Subaru does not offer a hybrid at this time, if I remember correctly. So, I wonder if it is true that a hybrid may appear as the more earth friendly vehicle while new, but be more of an environmental menace when junked at the end of its life.

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Posted: 09 April 2013 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I have a newish VW Golf TDI. I usually average about 40-42mpg since most of my driving is on the freeway. My last car, a MBZ got 30mpg if I coasted…. and averaged 22. I purchased this as a retirement car, since diesels last a long time and are very reliable. I just discovered, however, CA makes you smog your new diesel at 2 years, instead of 6 years for gas models.

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Posted: 09 April 2013 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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asanta - 09 April 2013 04:50 PM

I just discovered, however, CA makes you smog your new diesel at 2 years, instead of 6 years for gas models.

lol.. asanta for those of us who dont live in CA could you translate. I’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean to “smog” your vehicle?

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Posted: 09 April 2013 09:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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macgyver - 09 April 2013 05:51 PM
asanta - 09 April 2013 04:50 PM

I just discovered, however, CA makes you smog your new diesel at 2 years, instead of 6 years for gas models.

lol.. asanta for those of us who dont live in CA could you translate. I’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean to “smog” your vehicle?

We have to have our vehicles tested every other year to make sure the level of emissions spewing from our tail pipes doesn’t exceed a certain limit.You can’t register your vehicle if you can’t pass the smog test. You have to fix your car so it can pass before registering. There is a loophole though. If the car is over 20 years old (I believe) I doesn’t have to be smogged. Go figure.
I didn’t know other states didn’t do this. :/

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Posted: 10 April 2013 03:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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asanta - 09 April 2013 09:21 PM
macgyver - 09 April 2013 05:51 PM
asanta - 09 April 2013 04:50 PM

I just discovered, however, CA makes you smog your new diesel at 2 years, instead of 6 years for gas models.

lol.. asanta for those of us who dont live in CA could you translate. I’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean to “smog” your vehicle?

We have to have our vehicles tested every other year to make sure the level of emissions spewing from our tail pipes doesn’t exceed a certain limit.You can’t register your vehicle if you can’t pass the smog test. You have to fix your car so it can pass before registering. There is a loophole though. If the car is over 20 years old (I believe) I doesn’t have to be smogged. Go figure.
I didn’t know other states didn’t do this. :/

Here in Maryland I believe it is up to the individual counties. I’ve lived in counties where emissions testing is mandatory and others that do not have any requirement to have emission testing. I was talking to a relative about this and we speculated that maybe it’s population based—if your county has over x amount of residents, emissions testing is required (?).

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Posted: 10 April 2013 03:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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asanta - 09 April 2013 09:21 PM
macgyver - 09 April 2013 05:51 PM
asanta - 09 April 2013 04:50 PM

I just discovered, however, CA makes you smog your new diesel at 2 years, instead of 6 years for gas models.

lol.. asanta for those of us who dont live in CA could you translate. I’ve never heard that term before. What does it mean to “smog” your vehicle?

We have to have our vehicles tested every other year to make sure the level of emissions spewing from our tail pipes doesn’t exceed a certain limit.You can’t register your vehicle if you can’t pass the smog test. You have to fix your car so it can pass before registering. There is a loophole though. If the car is over 20 years old (I believe) I doesn’t have to be smogged. Go figure.
I didn’t know other states didn’t do this. :/

Thanks for the explanation. We have to have our cars inspected every year and they do an emissions test as part of the inspection. I had just never heard the term smogged applied to the process. I guess that term hasn’t migrated to the east coast yet.

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Posted: 10 April 2013 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Back when gas prices really spiked, several of the automotive blogs related to green vehicles did good breakdowns on who should buy a hybrid and why.  Often, the fuel savings (even at $4+/gal. for gas) didn’t justify the purchase of a hybrid.

The total environmental impacts of hybrids are unknown.  There are a number of questions surrounding the extraction of the materials needed for the batteries, as well as the final disposal of the materials, and nobody’s been able to conclusively prove that its being done in an environmentally friendly manner.

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Posted: 10 April 2013 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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macgyver - 10 April 2013 03:59 AM

Thanks for the explanation. We have to have our cars inspected every year and they do an emissions test as part of the inspection. I had just never heard the term smogged applied to the process. I guess that term hasn’t migrated to the east coast yet.

The term is used so commonly here, even in the media, I had no idea it was a local colloquialism.  red face

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Posted: 11 April 2013 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Every car I’ve had in So. Cal. for the last twenty years has had to be brought in for a smog check every two years where it is checked and, if neccesary, minor corrections made.  I’m not sure what the difference is, but every six years one has to bring it to a “Test Only” facility for the check. 

And I agree about mileage.  I have a ten year old Malibu which gets 21 miles per gallon no matter whether it’s city or freeway driving.  I’ll probably switch to hybrid for my next car.

Occam

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Posted: 11 April 2013 07:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Occam. - 11 April 2013 07:06 PM

Every car I’ve had in So. Cal. for the last twenty years has had to be brought in for a smog check every two years where it is checked and, if neccesary, minor corrections made.  I’m not sure what the difference is, but every six years one has to bring it to a “Test Only” facility for the check. 

And I agree about mileage.  I have a ten year old Malibu which gets 21 miles per gallon no matter whether it’s city or freeway driving.  I’ll probably switch to hybrid for my next car.

Occam

Occam, when you first buy a new car in CA, you don’t have to smog check it for 6 years, then you check it every two years. New diesels are checked every two years from purchase without the grace period.

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Posted: 11 April 2013 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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So WHO buys new cars?  LOL 

Occam

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Posted: 16 April 2013 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Occam. - 11 April 2013 07:06 PM

Every car I’ve had in So. Cal. for the last twenty years has had to be brought in for a smog check every two years where it is checked and, if neccesary, minor corrections made.  I’m not sure what the difference is, but every six years one has to bring it to a “Test Only” facility for the check.

Test only facilities can’t do repairs, just the test itself. So I would hazard the guess that they are considered more objective in their tests.

As to the 20 year old cars being exempt… I recall it was any car built before 1973 was exempt from emissions criteria in Ca. but all later cars had to pass a smog check. However, the standards for older cars was (is?) based on the emissions devices available to the car when it was built. I.e. a 1976 vehicle would not have the same standards as a 2012 one. But I’m certainly not up on current law. Hmm… Guess I should go check. smile

Take care,

Derek

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Posted: 16 April 2013 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Occam. - 11 April 2013 07:27 PM

So WHO buys new cars?  LOL 

Occam

I haven’t…. But I think I would like to at least once in my life. cool smile

As to the original question… Lots of good advice so far. You might also check into the current available tax credits for the various high fuel efficiency vehicles. Models which have been around for a while (i.e. the Prius) don’t usually have any tax credits.

Also, at least in California (but probably other states) some high fuel efficiency vehicles qualify for stickers which allow use of the carpool lane. wink

Take care,

Derek

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