Is it time for a new car?

After the recent bankruptcy of General Motors, experts say that this may be a great time to get a new car. I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile now, and it may be time for me to go for it.

The decision of whether or not to buy a new car is complicated for me. First and foremost I would have to accept that I actually have a car payment. I have had my car for seven years and really like not having a car payment. But, my car is getting older, it may need repairs soon and I want a car with better gas mileage. So, I’ve worked the payment into my budget, now the questions are: should I replace my current car and if so what should I get?

 

One factor in my decision is what truly is the greenest car-buying decision? Is it to keep my current car well maintained and running efficiently, with regular oil changes, scheduled maintenance, proper tire inflation (for a great list of how you can get maximum gas mileage from your current vehicle, check 66 Ways to Save Money on Gas from treehugger.com); or is it to get a new car that is cleaner burning and gets almost double the gas mileage? For a list of the most and least fuel efficient 2009 vehicles, check out fueleconomy.gov or this article from CNNmoney.com.

Kissing in the green car
Photo by: Brent and MariLynn

 

My current car (which for some reason people always ask me about as if my answer to this question will determine how “green” I really am) is a Honda Pilot. Yes, an SUV. But, in my defense, it’s no Hummer (don’t even get me started on that car). And when I bought it seven years ago, it was the most fuel efficient eight passenger vehicle available. It’s also an ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) and virtually 100% recyclable. And yes, I really did use the space when I had two small kids and I was often shuttling around extra kids too – I’m big on carpooling. Also, when we would go on vacation years ago, we would schlep around a double stroller, pack and play, two car seats, you know the drill. But, my kids are getting older, their friends are getting older, and with new airbag technology, I can actually seat some of the older kids in the front passenger seat now. Most of the time now, I don’t have that many people or that much stuff in the car where I need all the space. Still, there are a couple times a week when the third row comes in handy – when I get that last minute call to pick up my neighbors kids or I’m driving four or five kids back and forth to practice, or even when I fold down all the seats and I’m hauling around stuff for my business. But really, is that enough to justify the extra gas that I’m guzzling?

 

So, I’m thinking about buying a smaller hybrid car where I would lose space but make big gains in fuel efficiency. The two that I’m looking at are of course, the Toyota Prius, and also the Honda Insight. I really love Hondas – I’ve owned two now that were the most reliable and well built cars I have ever had.

 

So, what do you think? What’s the greenest choice – make the best of what you have or buy the new more efficient car? If it’s to buy a new car, what are some other economical, family friendly, fuel efficient models available right now? Also, any moms out there who downsized your car and if so, are you happy about it or did you regret it? Please share – I would love to hear your thoughts.

Learn more about Allison

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