Author Topic: Cheapest Car I've Ever Owned!  (Read 1779 times)

Rockies

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Cheapest Car I've Ever Owned!
« on: November 13, 2016, 09:48:02 PM »
I was driving a 1992 old Toyota Camry station wagon. It was awesome - I could sleep a few people in the back of it and fit a full size couch in it with the rear hatch closed. The only problem was when I calculated it I was getting 16 MPG city and 20 highway if I was lucky.  It was time to sell.

After reading Mr Money Mustache I decided to look for something that got better fuel economy like a Honda Fit or a Prius. I found a 10 year old prius with 200K kilometers on it for 2500$ in a small town 5 hours north of where I lived. I jumped on it, because as I had been looking for a while I realized that the true value of a vehicle like this was 5000-8000K. The fact that this car was for sale in a small town in Truck loving oil country and also had some cosmetic damage gave it an extreme markdown.

I've now had the 2005 Prius for a year now and I am amazed and very satisfied with it. Here are a few things that surprised me:

1. Its surprisingly large inside thanks to its hatchback design. I can easily fit two full size bicycles in it (with the rear seat folded down) without removing a wheel or doing any adjustments to the bikes. Thats better than pretty much any car I've heard of with the exception of other full size wagons. There are lots of videos online showing how you can sleep comfortably inside of the car as well. I haven't done that yet  but it might be a project for next summer.

2. Its GREAT in the snow. I bought some Michelin X-Ice snow tires to put on it and I am really surprised. I live in Alberta Canada so you know that its icy/snowy as hell all winter and its done fine. I even drove it in January through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho through epic snow storms and mountain passes with no problem. My friend has a Ford ranger and I found the Prius to handle WAY better than the truck, due to the fact that the truck had little traction with the bed unloaded. The prius just sticks confidently to the ground in most conditions. I didn't find the lack of clearance in the Prius to be an issue, even when I was pushing a few feet of snow on roads in Montana. Fuel economy takes a bit of a hit when it is cold, but I have experienced the same with any gas vehicle.

3. It does surprisingly well on muddy forest service roads and mild off road conditions (rough dirt roads). Yes the clearance is low, but the wheel base is relatively short. I love showing up in a Prius in remote places where people think they need a fancy truck to get there. For super hairy situations I've though about buying a come along winch to bring so I don't have to worry about getting stuck in the bush.

4. It is very very good on gas (obviously). This makes a bigger difference because I live in Canada where gas prices are high. I cut my gas bill in half or more. In the summer it tends to average 5.1 l/100 km (~48 MPG) and in the winter around 6 l/100 km (~40 MPG). This is without hypermiling or treating it specially. Short trips in the winter are the worst for economy but i've never gotten much worst than 6.5 l/100 km. In my old car my MPG would go down to 12 or 14 in the winter.

5. Its been incredibly reliable.  I've only done oil changes so far. I know one year isn't enough of a test of overally reliability, so we will see how it does for the next 5 or so. From my research it looks like the odds will be on my side.

6. The only disadvantage is I do get 'coal rolled' by large trucks often.  I think Toyota installed the handy coal roal repellant 'switch to recirculating air' switch on the steering wheel for this purpose. I've gotten in the habit of pressing it when I see some yahoos approaching in an Alberta Tall Truck (or Texas Long Truck depending on the location) with black coal rolling smoke stacks installed. I think the hate I get is ironic, because my main reason for owning it is my frugality rather than my politics, and I am usually listening to country music while driving anyways.


« Last Edit: November 13, 2016, 09:58:31 PM by Rockies »

frugalcanuck

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Re: Cheapest Car I've Ever Owned!
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2016, 05:02:18 PM »
How is the battery holding up?  I am in the market for a new used car and I'm looking at an '05 but wary of the battery.

Rockies

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Re: Cheapest Car I've Ever Owned!
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2016, 06:51:49 PM »
I've seen no problems with the traction battery. It was something I was too concerned about before I bought. I did a bunch of research and basically found that battery failure is rare in prius'. It has happened to a few rare people, but it didn't appear to be a very big risk statistically. Also its not an 'end of world' situation as you can replace with a battery from a junk yard vehicle.

The previous owner said that the smaller 12v auxillary battery needs replacement every few years. I think that's only 200 bucks.