My Jeep started making a weird noise. Like one of those rainmakers in the music classroom of an elementary school. Then we noticed it was leaking something… coolant? Yes. The “Coolant Low” warning came on.
Two years ago we replaced the heating core. Two months ago we replaced the alternator. Then two weeks ago I asked a neighbor to help me figure out what was wrong with my truck. He’s a mechanic and was incredibly helpful in diagnosing the alternator that my Dad helped me fix.
So my neighbor got down on my cicada covered driveway, wiggling around under the Jeep, testing the systems, and finally figuring out that it was indeed the heating core that had sprung a leak. The one we had just replaced less than two years ago.
We were scheduled to leave the next day for a family trip to South Carolina, so I called my Mom in a panic. Being the ever helpful, gracious person that she is she lent us her Rav4 and we booked it down to South Carolina for a week of family fun. It really was a great trip. Then we got home, returned the Rav4, and spent a week humming and haing over what to do.
B-man still drives my college car. My little ’95 Honda Civic. The one with no air conditioning. It gets surprisingly hot in Virginia.
So we had been planning and budgeting to buy B-man a new car. But my Jeep was quickly turning into a money pit, which would eventually turn in to a brick – worth nothing. Not keen on paying some one to take the Jeep off our hands we decided that we needed to act quickly. The cracked windshield, broken mirror and window that wouldn’t stay up were nothing compared to the cost of fixing that heating core (close to $1000, mostly labor charges because of it’s location).
On Friday we went test-driving. We needed something that is big enough to get me, B-man, Ginny, Zuko, and potentially another baby in the future, all in the same car for 12-hour trips to Maine… but also small enough to become B-man’s commuter car when we can afford a bigger baby-mobile. I kind of had my heart set on a Prius. I know so many people who have them and love them that I had convinced myself that it was the car for me. Of course… the second I sat in it I knew it would never do. The “pilot” style console, that goes from the dashboard to the armrest was just too much. Too overwhelming. It made the car feel cramped and that would be awful over 12+ hours of driving.
We were pretty set on buying a Toyota. My family all drive Toyota’s, and most of B-man’s family does too. Plus in this area the dealerships often offer lots of “perks” like free oil changes/car-washes for as long as you own the vehicle, as well as extending certain warranty to include parts and the engine (for the life of the vehicle).
Next we looked at the Hybrid Camry. It was spacious and lovely. But it was car-shaped, instead of hatchback, and traveling with the dog and potentially 2 car seats was a no-go. We prefer to have him in his crate and would not be able to put his crate in the trunk, since it was an enclosed trunk. It just wasn’t going to work.
We had kind of given up a bit of hope on finding a car we would like. Then the salesman asked if we would like to see a Prius V. It’s like the station wagon version of the prius. It was the same price as the Camry, but had a lot of the fancy features, plus the large, open hatchback.
So… that’s what we did.
In the background you can see the Jeep we traded in. We got full trade in value, actually a little more than I expected, so no complaints there. And now we have a shiny new Prius V! It feels just as spacious and roomy as the Jeep, so markedly different. The jeep felt… rustic, like you were about to drive down a dirt road at any second. The prius feels like I’m shuffling kids around the neighborhood. Economical and responsible. The Jeep averaged 17 mpg, where as the Prius has averaged 37 mpg for the 80 miles I’ve driven since buying it… yesterday.
So that’s my exciting news. I feel bad that B-man is still driving the car with no A/C, but it was the right choice for our long term plans (which did not involve dumping money into a Jeep that just didn’t want to work).