Ode to a Daddy Car

2014 09 28 Boy and Honda 7, September 28, 2014, 9:35 a.m.

Last time sitting in the Daddy Car, September 28, 2014, 9:35 a.m.

From Daddy: Today was the last day for the Old Daddy Car.

2014 09 28 Boy and Honda 5, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

The end of the Daddy Car, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

This was the only Daddy Car that he has ever known.

2014 09 28 Boy and Honda 4, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

I thought that it was possible that he might be more attached to the car–the only Daddy Car he’s ever known–but he wasn’t, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

2014 09 28 Boy and Honda 6, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

Shortly before I asked him to sit in the Daddy Car one last time, September 28, 2014, 9:34 a.m.

On September 2, after I dropped him off at school and filled up on gas, I drove in congested traffic toward the East Bay.

2014 09 02 08.39.47 Odometer, September 2, 2014, 8:39 a.m.

At the gas station, I thought that it was novel that the odometer’s mileage was 2-0-1-2-0-1, so I took a photo. Little did I know that it would be the car’s final fill-up. Also, it stuck in my craw that I spent the money to fill the tank after what would soon occur, September 2, 2014, 8:39 a.m.


2012 09 04 13-00-49 Odometer, September 4, 2012, 1 p.m.

The Daddy Car hit 180,000 miles. It drove almost exactly 21,000 in 24 months, September 4, 2012, 1 p.m.

The car was on the verge of overheating on the overhead freeway–the temperature dial ran counterclockwise beyond the “H” in the hot-cold indicator. I pulled over at the next exit. After parking and waiting a while for the engine to cool, I tried to proceed but the engine once more heated after a few minutes. I parked, excused myself from work meetings, and later limped to a nearby Firestone that I have used.

Firestone would say that the car was beyond their help. I drove the car to the very nearby dealership in town. They worked on it the next day and estimated the repairs to be $4,775. The Daddy Car was done.

I didn’t want it to end like this. I hoped for an opportunity to be patient and selective about the next car and to have built a better reserve to pay for the next car.

The car drove fine on the way home. They obviously filled it with plenty of coolant (which the tech said that the car “drank” during diagnostics).

Weeks of research…

2014 09 08 17.30.58 Consumer Reports thriftiest

Some car candidates in a magazine, September 8, 2014

…test drives…

2014 09 08 17.39.15 Consumer Reports small cars 2 - Volt

I test drove the Volt on the suggestion of a colleague. The ride and the radar/sensors along all sides were great. The sacrifice of rear cabin and trunk space for the battery seemed fine. The range of nearly 40 miles using only the plug-in battery was pretty good as well as the normal gas mileage. Still, the model was expensive even after tax credits and the visual interference of the rear hatchback horizon annoyed though I’m certain that most grow accustomed to it. Also, it would make it difficult to share the garage with the Mommy car so that I could plug it in. I hope that the car sells well and evolves! Then I moved on to Subaru, September 14, 2014

2014 09 08 17.39.08 Consumer Reports small cars 1 - Subaru

I test drove the Crosstrek, a more expensive iteration that I was assured drove the same as the Impreza. The test drive was the best, potentially because of its 4-wheel drive. The car was actually a crossover vehicle, so it was more elevated from the ground and easier to enter than the Impreza, but its mileage rating is slightly less. The car is quite expensive relative to others here. The manager (not the sales associate) explained that Subaru sells 600,000 cars per year (I think that I got that right) relative to the volume of, say, Toyota with 400,000 Priuses/Prii alone that are sold. He explained the emphasis on quality versus quantity. However, as he was to seek a better price for me, he walked past the sales associate and me (not to the restroom–I was watching), helped one set of customers (she was wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey), and then another set of customers (he was wearing a Patrick Willis jersey; Willis and Kaep were in different areas of the dealership and that’s how I knew that they were different customers). Feigning the need to get home to dinner (I actually went to the nearby Honda dealer that I discovered during our test drive!), I asked the sales associate to e-mail me. He never did. Sorry, Subaru, I wish that you tried, September 14, 2014

2014 09 08 17.39.08 Consumer Reports small cars 1 - Civic

After Subaru, I test-drove a Civic EX which drove the least-nice all the cars here. However, the price was attractive (on par with the Corolla), the car was most similar to the Daddy Car, and higher-end trims have a right blindspot camera. Since safety features should trump all, I should prefer the Civic, right?, September 14, 2014, around 6:30 p.m. I also test drove a lower-end LX model–still great compared to the Daddy Car–on September 18.

2014 09 08 17.39.08 Consumer Reports small cars 1 - Mazda

It’s an impressive small car. The trim lines with the best features seemed expensive. One turn-off was that the large sales associate could only enter the car by firmly grasping the roof of the car to angle in. That would not bear well for taller passengers. With many confusing trim lines, I e-mailed the sales associate for clarifications on September 24, 2014. Still no replies. Sorry, Mazda, I wanted to prefer the Civic and Corolla anyway. However, I loved the side-impact warning indicator tones on each side mirror on the loaded model. I didn’t like the obtrusive view screen or closeness of the rear-view mirror. I test drove it on September 20, 2014, around 10:30 a.m., at the same dealership as from which we bought the Mommy Car.

…and negotiations began.

2014 09 08 17.39.08 Consumer Reports small cars 1 - Corolla

It was really great. Even the sportier or higher range trim were affordable, attractive, and drove well. The price difference between these and the Prius made the hybrid seem to be an unwise based upon my recent (21,000 miles over two years) driving pattern since obtaining the new Mommy car. I visited the dealership on September 11 and test drove on September 19; also I visit and test drove at another dealership on September 16.

2014 09 16 12.37.21 Corolla tag, September 16, 2014, 12:37 p.m.

Price on this year’s Corolla, hanging from its rear-view mirror, September 16, 2014, 12:37 p.m.

2014 09 17 11.41.53 Prius C tag, September 17, 2014, 11:41 a.m.

Or last year’s Prius C?, September 17, 2014, 11:41 a.m.

2014 09 08 17.34.11 Consumer Reports Green cars

I test drove the Prius and the smaller Prius C on September 17 and the Prius again on September 19, 2014, at lunch time. The rides were pretty good. The mileage on the Prius remains fantastic. Later a friend would suggest that the bucket seats on the smaller Prius C may be exacerbating back problems. Still, the price difference between the Corolla (better features for the money) and the Prius (better gas mileage) based upon my mileage pretty much excluded the Prius.

2014 09 16 12.12.07 Prius tag, September 16, 2014, 12:12 p.m.

The Prius C is smaller than the Prius and gets the same mileage. The engine is less powerful. The features on the Prius are better too. And the reviews for the Prius C were not as great. Yes, I didn’t want to settle for a Prius C, but here’s the price on a current Prius with the features that I want, September 16, 2014, 12:12 p.m.

2014 09 17 12.02.58 Prius C Four tag, September 17, 2014, 12:02 p.m.

Heck, here’s the price on the Prius C in the trim line with the features that I wanted, September 17, 2014, 12:02 p.m.

2014 09 17 11.20.38 Corolla S Plus, September 17, 2014, 11:20 a.m.

In fact, here’s the price on the Corolla S Plus–which I loved–with the electronics that I wanted; that’s pretty expensive, September 17, 2014, 11:20 a.m.

2014 09 18 11.47.46 Civic LX, September 18, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

Civic LX–which I test drove–seems reasonably priced based upon MSRP, September 18, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

2014 09 18 11.47.56 Civic EX, September 18, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

But I preferred the features of a Civic EX, September 18, 2014, 11:47 a.m.

2014 09 08 17.39.15 Consumer Reports small cars 2 - Civic Hybrid

So here’s where it gets interesting. Eventually, I received online quotes for the Civic Hybrid that made very achievable. Also, the hybrid has lane-drift warning and a front collision warning. Safety should trump all, right? And if it saves fuel costs and rushing to fill the gas tank in the morning between the boy’s school and getting to work. I test drove it this morning, September 28, 2014, around 11 a.m.

Finally, after much negotiation, I was ready to pull the trigger on a Civic Hybrid–best features of all except perhaps the most loaded Mazda 3 and the Volt; mileage rated only slightly under the Prius; and very favorable quote less than the fully-loaded Mazda, mid-range but loaded Prius, and what I would assume to be the Crosstrek’s price or fully loaded Impreza’s–at the most local dealer. It was also the dealer where they tried the repair and I had a feeling that I could negotiate a credit based upon the $160 that I already paid for the diagnostic. Their price was $23875.50 out the door or just over $389 per month on a five-year 0.9% loan with a downpayment of $1000. (The “out-the-door” price and/or the monthly payment seemed to me to be the best way to gauge a final number; I would not know what fees could be added to the car’s price otherwise.)

How did this price compare? I received better quotes from two dealers about an hour away (by almost $200), but this dealership stepped up and basically made it a wash. Cool.

Then some important things happened:

2014 09 08 17.35.23 Consumer Reports dealers compete

Daddy to magazine: DUH!

  • I visited this dealership yesterday morning. The sales person did not show (he was busy and it was last-minute; I understood) but his associates said that he’d be back within minutes. He wasn’t, so I got another sales associate to show me colors. Only the black was available (not in my top three of choices). Next, they offered me only $100 to trade-in the Daddy Car which I accepted. Then, he printed out an offer sheet (after consulting with the original sales person who has since returned and was helping someone else). Later, I would notice that the offer sheet was greater ($390.xx per month) than the previous offer that the sales associate made ($389.xx) without the trade-in! After my friendly e-mail, the second sales associate agreed to change it when I returned. When I asked for numbers by e-mail, he didn’t reply. When I called him that late afternoon/evening, he said that he needed to confirm with the first sales associate.
  • During this time, the first dealer where I test drove the Civic stepped in with an offer within $100 of this one ($23,975 out-the-door). Also, they had three of my favorite colors. I was ready to go there!
  • Also during this time (and the previous evening), one of the dealers an hour away offered a quote of $23,717 out-the-door with a black unit and silver unit. That might not have been enough to make me drive far, however…
  • …A dealer an hour away came in with a bid of $21,280 before fees / $23,495 OTD. The bid was in his e-mail (i.e., documented though not on hard copy) and he had my three favorite colors. Also, about $385 per month for five years with only $900 down. Dare I spend the time and risk driving the Daddy Car out there?

I e-mail last pleas to all other dealers. The dealers dropped out of the bidding, give best offers greater than all four of the above, claimed that the low quote was fake, and/or claimed that other fees would eat up the difference. (By the way, none of the car buying services came close to these preceding quotes.) What would I do?

I decided to drive out there this morning. I left the house about half an hour later than expected due to trying to accomplish some work, taking the above photos of the boy and the Daddy Car, emptying the Daddy Car, and retrieving the Fasttrack transponder from the minivan that I borrowed from Yeah-Yeah and Ngen-Ngen.

The result?

  • I test drove the car and learned more about driving hybrids. (I don’t think that I ever test drove the Civic Hybrid model.)
  • The deal was solid. (Great. I saved about $400 in exchange for the nearly hour-long one-way drive!)
  • They offered my $200 for the Daddy Car. (Score!)
  • They had three colors in stock. While “urban titanium” was nice in some types of light, this morning it looked too brown. The “modern steel” looked dark and fantastic, but the sales associate warned that blacker cars do not conceal dirt as well as lighter cars. Hello, alabaster silver.
  • The deal was $382.01 per month. My room for negotiation was pretty much gone. I tried to get them down to $379 per month. I only got to $382.00 per month. To achieve it, they bumped up the trade-in to $200.50.

Then to the finance manager.

  • He tried to sell me on a security package for $549. The car had automatic shut-off and sound if the glass is pressured (or breaks) or elevated (for stripping) without the key. I thought of where I park near our satellite office (the Daddy Car’s right back window has been shattered and once the stereo of the car beside it was stolen). I bought it for $539. It would be financed.
  • Then he tried to sell me the extended service contract for $1795, covering the car for seven years or 80,000 miles, good at any Honda dealership. I declined but admitted being tempted. I bought it for ten years or 100,000 miles plus he waived the $47 processing fee for my not bringing the Daddy Car’s pink slip (which I tried but couldn’t find this morning). The Daddy Car has acted up these past years and also the urban legend of hybrid batteries weighed upon me. I felt okay about buying this. It would also be financed.
  • He asked if I wanted to write a check for the downpayment. I said sure, but I left checkbook back at the sales associate’s desk–unless I could put the $900 downpayment on the credit card. Done. (Score! I might even get some cash back on that!)

Final tally: $422.61 per month for five years. I still felt pretty good about this, I increased my payment by barely one dollar per day for five years, and the Daddy Car lasted over 13 1/4 years.

I thanked, in turn, the finance manager and sales associate for their time and courtesy, and said that I hoped that I returned the favor.

It was time to go to the cleaned and fueled new car. The sales associate gave me a great tour of the controls. (More on this tour in a later blog post.)

Finally, it was time to transfer the remaining desired contents of the Daddy Car to the new car.

2014 09 28 13.03.39 Two Hondas, September 28, 2014, 1:03 p.m.

Old Daddy Car meets the New Daddy Car, September 28, 2014, 1:03 p.m.

2014 09 28 13.03.53 Old Honda 1, September 28, 2014, 1:03 p.m

I asked for some photos. The sales person obliged. He’s honored this request before, September 28, 2014, 1:03 p.m

2014 09 28 13.05.08 Old Honda 2, September 28, 2014, 1:05 p.m.

The sales person said that a woman has actually cried upon the trade-in. I kidded that I was trying to avoid that. I was somewhat sentimental, but the transition was okay for me, September 28, 2014, 1:05 p.m.

2014 09 28 13.05.26 Old Honda 3, September 28, 2014, 1:05 p.m.

I was more sentimental when I donated the Plymouth Acclaim in 2001. Today, however, I did speak the Daddy Car a couple of times on the drive to the dealership, giving it encouragement for doing well during its final voyage, September 28, 2014, 1:05 p.m.

2014 09 28 11.08.23 Odometer, September 28, 2014, 11:08 a.m.

Dear Daddy Car: We had over thirteen great years together and you made it 201,338 miles. I know that I didn’t always maintain you the best and you did not always drive the best, but we were a great team. And except for that one time earlier this month, you always brought me home. With love, thank you. I don’t actually know if you’ll have another owner, but if you do, I hope that your next owner gets more than his/her money’s worth, September 28, 2014, 11:08 a.m.

The new car and I spend a lot of time driving home and occasionally dealing with very congested traffic. According to the on-board computer, it’s mileage on the way home: 44.1 miles per gallon.

2014 09 28 13.07.50 Old Manual, September 28, 2014, 1:07 p.m.

I even brought and left behind the old manual, September 28, 2014, 1:07 p.m.

I’m glad that my work is done. To wrap things up, I e-mailed almost every dealer still in play (including the local dealer) that I bought the car today.


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