car journal

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squished18
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car journal

Postby squished18 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:27 pm

This likely isn't exactly what JD had in mind when he started this area. However, we North Americans spend a huge chunk of our resources on our horseless carriages. So I'm starting my journal on my car. Hopefully, I will receive lots of ideas, perspectives, and recommendations regarding how to most efficiently spend my dollars on my transportation.

There was already a great idea from samerwriter about using the scan-gauge to measure fuel efficiency. My fiance's check-engine light came on recently and this would have been helpful there too.

My objectives in this thread are three-fold:
1. Evaluate the best option for my next set of wheels. (I love shopping for cars.)
2. Reap the experiences of other drivers on your best maintenance techniques.
3. Share my own experiences on how I've tried to most efficiently travel in comfort.

My current ride is a 2004 Toyota Corolla LE (stick-shift) that I purchased last April. I previously owned a 1998 Pontiac Sunfire that I owned for about seven years (bought it one-year old). Before that my dad had lent me the old family 1986 Pontiac Bonneville.

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jdroth
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Postby jdroth » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:30 pm

This likely isn't exactly what JD had in mind when he started this area.


No -- this is perfect. I guarantee I'll be following allong as you go through this process.

sandycheeks
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Postby sandycheeks » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:58 pm

Do you have a loan on the Corolla?

elasticdog
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Postby elasticdog » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:12 pm

Regarding maintenance tips and a service that I'm sure a lot of people pay for: oil changes...realistically changing your oil every 3000 miles is completely unnecessary. The real interval where a change is needed is much higher than what most people expect and modern synthetic oils can perform well even up to 10,000+ miles under the right conditions. A great resource if your interested in the nitty gritty details of it all is the free ebook called The Motor Oil Bible. It seems like it would be a fairly boring book, but I actually found it extremely interesting and read it cover to cover in a few days when my father sent me the link a couple years back. Anyway, doing some research and extending your drains could end up saving you a good chunk of change in the long run.

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Thu Apr 26, 2007 6:01 am

sandycheeks,

I took out a small "loan" for this car. I had saved up all but about $2500 for the purchase price of the vehicle (including one year's insurance). So I took the funds out of my normal spending funds and paid it back in over the next six months.

For my first car, my dad lent me the money for the purchase. I owned the car for seven years and took almost all of it to pay him back.

I learned to stay away from car financing from my dad. I don't think he's ever taken out a loan for wheels. Contrary to the practices of younger generations, they used public transit a lot more. My mom commuted on buses and trains an hour and a half each way for over twenty years to her job downtown.

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squished18
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Postby squished18 » Thu Apr 26, 2007 2:07 pm

So I've been keeping my eye on this listing for a while. It's an '04 Matrix XRS (6-speed) listed at $19,995 (CDN).

(cancel the print job, if you click the link)
http://listings.boostmotorgroup.com/Det ... &MediaID=0

It's been listed for at least two months now. I have my own '04 Corolla and about $3000 saved up. I like the option of having the 6th gear. However, I feel the interior on my Corolla is a bit more refined than the Matrix. I like the idea of having the passenger seat fold flat so you can put in a really long package. I don't like the fact that you can look into the hatch so see what I've got stowed there. I'm kinda worried about the security of it.

Thoughts?

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Tue May 01, 2007 8:07 pm

elasticdog wrote:Regarding maintenance tips and a service that I'm sure a lot of people pay for: oil changes...realistically changing your oil every 3000 miles is completely unnecessary. The real interval where a change is needed is much higher than what most people expect and modern synthetic oils can perform well even up to 10,000+ miles under the right conditions. A great resource if your interested in the nitty gritty details of it all is the free ebook called The Motor Oil Bible. It seems like it would be a fairly boring book, but I actually found it extremely interesting and read it cover to cover in a few days when my father sent me the link a couple years back. Anyway, doing some research and extending your drains could end up saving you a good chunk of change in the long run.


elasticdog,

I downloaded the e-book and started reading it. It's a good read so far. I read a bit about what the various components of a motor oil are, and just looked at the section on air filters. Started looking at the various motor oil options available at Canadian Tire. Will have to check out the selection at Costco when I get a chance too.

thanks,
squished

fontraid
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Postby fontraid » Wed May 02, 2007 5:58 pm

squished,

I own a 2004 Matrix XR FWD (automatic) and LOVE IT. I've had it since 2004, and when I was researching it back then, I was pretty skeptical (since it first showed up in 2003, there wasn't that much data on it). But the specs looked like they fit what I was looking for (decent price, good fuel economy, small size to slip into tight parking spaces but with a spacious and comfy backseat, cargo room) so I gave it a try. It's been GREAT. It's built on the base of the Corolla, with the same engine, but its body is slightly wider. The good thing about this is the small, maneuverable size of the car and the fuel economy (slightly worse than the Corolla, but not terribly so). Further, the interior of the car is nothing like the Corolla... you know how the Corolla can feel pretty cramped in the back w/ 3 adults? Well the Matrix feels extremely spacious. It's unbelievable. The bad thing about having the Corolla engine is that, since the Matrix is heavier, and the Corolla engine is already pretty, er, weak, you get really slow acceleration and you've got to coax it going up a slope.

The passenger seat does fold flat, but when it is folded, it is still slightly higher (an inch or so?) than the folded down backseat (which folds and blends seamlessly with the cargo area). Still, I was able to dismantle the metal frame of a full-size futon and move it (and its mattress) using my car. The great thing about the back of the backseat (and the back of the passenger seat) is that they are hard plastic, so even if they get scuffed during a move, you're not ripping out stuffing from the seat.

As for seeing the contents through the hatch, when I purchased my car, I got a cargo seat cover that came along with it. It hooks into the cargo seat area at a height just below the level of the backseat and covers up the contents of that area perfectly.

Anyway. Can you tell I love my car? =] I highly recommend it. PM me if you have any other questions.

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Mon May 07, 2007 8:12 am

Well, i just completed a 1700 km trip, towing a utility trailer, with the Corolla. It was my first time towing a trailer, and a Corolla is obviously not rated for towing. However, it performed nicely, with zero problems. I kept the speed a little over 100 km/h for most of the trip. The fastest I went was about 110. Part of the trip was in some hills, and it wasn't able to maintain 100 km/h on long climbs. My fiance and I went to Vermont to pick up two leather armchairs we had purchased.

One thing I figure now is that I'd much rather be towing in this situation with a stick-shift. I have a feeling that an automatic tranny would have made the trip harder. Being able to pick exactly what gear to be in, in any situation, definitely helped to make the trip more manageable. It will be interesting to see if I see any long-term ill effects from this trip on the transmission. I figured that would be the part of the car that took the most abuse over the long-distance thrash.

I think I learned a lot from this trip. I learned what to expect when towing a small trailer. It didn't have much of a suspension, so it bounced around a bit when it was empty. I also learned to keep my eye out for places I could and couldn't go with the trailer. I also had several opportunities to try out my reversing skills. That's something that will take a while to master. One thing that was a constant worry was the risk of somebody stealing the trailer or its contents. The actual risk I figured was fairly low, but the thought was always in the back of my mind.

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Wed May 09, 2007 6:28 am

fontraid,

Thanks for your thoughts on the Matrix. I never thought about the back seat of the Matrix as being more spacious than in a Corolla. The total length of the Matrix is shorter than a Corolla, so I assumed that the back seat was just as cramped, if not more so. However, the hatch allows you to use the back of the car more efficiently. You either get to carry around people or a big load of cargo, not both. This makes a lot of sense. Very rarely is anyone carrying around both a load of passengers and cargo. (Those who do probably opt for a full-size crew cab pickup.) I'll have to sit in the back of a Matrix the next time I get a chance.

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squished18
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Postby squished18 » Mon May 14, 2007 7:13 am

I have a little theory about car marketing. Ever notice how car companies use their names? For example, compare a '99 Corolla and an '06 Corolla. Compare their power, available features, and roominess. I haven't done a scientific analysis, but my suspicion is that a '99 Corolla is actually comparable to an '06 Yaris. I suspect this is such that people who used to own a '99 Corolla will feel bad about buying an '06 Corolla. They think they're "going backwards" in terms of model. They're guilted into buying a more powerful, more fully-featured vehicle. They used to be able to afford a Corolla, and now they're "only" able to afford a Yaris. Think this is true? I certainly do.

Here are some other model names that I've seen similar patterns with: Malibu, Bonneville, 3-series

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Fri May 18, 2007 11:39 am

squished18 wrote:So I've been keeping my eye on this listing for a while. It's an '04 Matrix XRS (6-speed) listed at $19,995 (CDN).

(cancel the print job, if you click the link)
http://listings.boostmotorgroup.com/Det ... &MediaID=0

It's been listed for at least two months now. I have my own '04 Corolla and about $3000 saved up. I like the option of having the 6th gear. However, I feel the interior on my Corolla is a bit more refined than the Matrix. I like the idea of having the passenger seat fold flat so you can put in a really long package. I don't like the fact that you can look into the hatch so see what I've got stowed there. I'm kinda worried about the security of it.

Thoughts?


Well, I checked today again and the list price has dropped by $1500. Very tempting to try to put in an offer. My Corolla has 112000km on it. This Matrix has 65000km on it. That's about two years worth of mileage for me. Think I have a shot? I've got $3900 cash on hand. Options are equivalent on both cars.

Think '04 Corolla with 112000 + $3900 = '04 Matrix with 65000 listed at $18495 + taxes?

squished

squished18
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Postby squished18 » Fri May 25, 2007 1:37 pm

Looked at this review of the Matrix XRS. The author notes that the transmission is "clunky" and gives little feedback. Something to note if I ever go for a test drive.

http://cars.about.com/od/2001/fr/AG_05_MatrixXRS.htm

bwian
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Postby bwian » Fri May 25, 2007 2:41 pm

squished18 wrote:I have a little theory about car marketing. Ever notice how car companies use their names? For example, compare a '99 Corolla and an '06 Corolla. Compare their power, available features, and roominess. I haven't done a scientific analysis, but my suspicion is that a '99 Corolla is actually comparable to an '06 Yaris. I suspect this is such that people who used to own a '99 Corolla will feel bad about buying an '06 Corolla. They think they're "going backwards" in terms of model. They're guilted into buying a more powerful, more fully-featured vehicle. They used to be able to afford a Corolla, and now they're "only" able to afford a Yaris. Think this is true? I certainly do.

Here are some other model names that I've seen similar patterns with: Malibu, Bonneville, 3-series


This happens with pretty much every major brands and their big selling models. If you compared a new 2008 model Accord, Altima, Camry, etc. (and that's just the japanese brands ;) ), to a pre-2000 version of that same model, it will be a huge difference in the size and standard features on the vehicle. A new Corolla is like an old Camry. A new Sentra is as large as an old Altima.

And yes, the idea is that the automakers want their customers to "grow up" with their brand. If they bought a Corolla when they were young, they'll probably want a larger, more comfortable car when they're older, so they'll buy the new one, which happens to cost more.

The trick is to actually think about what you're buying and determine if you're willing to settle for not Super-Sizing your next car purchase. For myself, I don't even like the size increases in the "mid-size" vehicles. I'm not a big person, so I feel a little lost in them sometimes. ;) (of course, in the past 6 years I've gone from a '90 Buick Park Avenue, which died; to a '99 Accord, which sadly crashed; and to my current '03 Protege5, nice and small and peppy)

I'd gladly save $5000+interest for an automobile that doesn't really give me more pleasure or options. The difference between a Civic or Accord is negligible, when it's just my wife and I in the first place. :)[/i]

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alicia
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Postby alicia » Wed Jun 06, 2007 6:38 am

Personally, I'm a huge Honda fan. They go forever and don't need much maintenance.

Jef and I share a '98 Civic hatchback, and we love it. It has 125K miles and is going strong. We get almost 30MPG in the city, and we've moved incredible amounts of stuff with it: trees, a stove, a dining table, that sort of thing. It certainly isn't a cushy car, but it only cost us $4000 a few years ago.


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