in which we reluctantly begin the search for a new vehicle

We were warned about this! We were half-expecting it.

Our car didn't pass the inspection for BC auto insurance. Supposedly this is what happens when you bring a car from another province.

We drive an old (2006) Kia Spectra, which we bought two years ago when our even older (2005) Chevy Optra was hit by a careless driver and our insurance carrier dumped it. Considering its age and its 155,000 kilometres, the Kia has been very solid. Before we drove west, we brought it in for a full check-up and got everything it needed, plus new snow tires. It drove across the continent without a hiccup.

Given that, it's a wee bit hard to believe that the car suddenly needs another $3,000 in repairs. But you can't get car insurance without the inspection, so the inspectors have you over a barrel. (If you enjoy word and phrase origins, over a barrel has an interesting story.)

It would be ridiculous to put another $3,000 into this car. It's more than we paid for it in the first place! Allan wants to get a second opinion, another inspection, but I'm not hopeful. So... we are car shopping. It had to happen sometime.

Now that we're in this rugged country, I'd like to get something slightly bigger and heavier. Almost everyone in our area drives a truck or an SUV. I don't think we want to spend that kind of money, but a bigger vehicle would be very useful here.

Here goes.


Kim_in_TO said...

Part of the reason you see more SUVs is that they indeed make more sense where you're living now, but also that car manufacturers are discontinuing a lot of their sedans because of the demand for SUVs.

Do not make the mistake of thinking bigger is better - and certainly not that taller is better. I cringe every time I hear someone say, "I just feel safer in an SUV." If you get in a head-on collision, basic physics cannot be denied: the bigger vehicle is going to win. So some collision stats will show an advantage for big SUVs. But few collisions are head-on.

There was a clever study in which drivers had to avoid an obstacle which suddenly appeared in their path. Drivers in smaller cars were able to easily steer out of the panic situation and avoid a collision, but those driving SUVs could not steer out, due to the vehicles' heavier weight and momentum (again, basic physics cannot be denied). So the truth is that collision stats are misleading because smaller vehicles are able to avoid more collisions in the first place.

I saw that someone on your FB wall recommended Subaru Crosstrek. Technically a CUV, meaning unibody construction rather than separate body-on-frame construction. Indeed a good choice, I think, for the 4WD/AWD and higher ground clearance - but the fact that it's more of a car than an SUV.

laura k said...

Thanks, Kim. We found that most sedans had been discontinued way back in 2005 when we bought our first car. I liked the larger hatchback -- room for dogs and packages/suitcases, but way smaller than an SUV.

My desire for a larger, heavier car isn't collision safety. To be honest, I never look at those stats or care about them. We just wear our seat belts and drive safely, and hopefully that is enough. And if it's not, well... I'm not going to drive a gas guzzler 365 days/year for an event that probably will never happen.

As you suggest, we now live in an area where a truck or SUV makes sense. I'll be driving on *logging roads* to some of my libraries! Many roads are gravel and pitted. Our little Kia will get eaten alive. :)

When I would park in the parking garage in Mississauga Civic Centre, I would look around and see almost all SUVs. Not a lot of rugged terrain in the Sauga!

Jay Farquharson said...

I’m a Toyota guy, when it comes to trucks and SUV’s.

You don’t need anything big, so look at small SUV’s like the RAV, and hybrid.

Most trucks and SUV’s will never have seen dirt, as a result, won’t have great tires for snow or gravel, but instead, some kind of all seasons. It’s worth spending the money on decent tires.

It’s also worth spending the money for 3M chip protector film on the front of what ever you get, a “bug shield”, ( deflects rocks up over the vehicle) and acrylic headlight protectors. Now that most headlights are one piece/custom, it’s well worth not having to pay out $$$ for a new headlight, or $$$$ for a windshield every couple of years.

laura k said...

Tires. :( We bought expensive new snow tires before we moved. *sigh*

Thanks for the tips!

laura k said...

I'd love to get a hybrid, but so far I haven't seen anything even close to affordable.

Jay Farquharson said...

You can always get a good price for good shape/low mileage winters and rims on Kajijii,

If you can cover most of your driving off the battery charge alone, then you use the money saved on gas, which is considerable, to “offset” the purchase price. If you drive a lot, then it’s the “combined” costs, the Rav get’s 6.9/100 km vs 10.7/100 km for the gas model, so that’s a savings of $4.43 based on where we are per 100km.

The Kia Nero get’s enough range out of batteries alone that with out driving, I’d woory about a tank of gas going bad, because 99% of our driving would be on electric. Plug in hybrids cost a bit more, but they qualify for some rebate programs, and some places have set up free/low cost charging stations.

When we replace the wifes 4Runner with a plug in hybrid, we’ll save between $240 a month on gas, to when prices spike, as they will, to over $400. As we are on wind and solar, charging will be “free” vs a hydro charge of $0.71, ( Kia Nero). So, if your daily mileage hits the battery range, your electric fuel costs (6 days a week) will be about $18-20 a month. That doesn’t even pay for a top up to a tank.

laura k said...

The cost savings are obvious, but we'll have to see if there are any hybrids in our price range. I work 5 minutes from home and Allan works at home, so gas savings wouldn't show up for a long time. But we have to afford the car every day. We shall see!

Amy said...

I have no car advice (surprise, surprise), except that after an Optra and a Spectra, you must get a car with a name that ends with TRA.

drf said...

I still miss my 2002 Subaru Forester...AWD (not that it was ever needed in the Panhandle of Florida before I had it transported to VAN), not huge, and loved all of that glass (great visibility). But, I "lost" the argument for a new vehicle @ the end of 2015 and we bought
a Mazda CX-5 (and in red...I am not a red person). Still, and don't tell Bob, I must admit
the new safety features are very helpful, especially in city driving (lane warning flashers on the side mirrors and back up camera...YES!). I'm not a car person, and consider them a necessary evil. They make life way too easy. We seldom use public transportation any longer unless we are traveling the downtown core. Of course rescuing a dog in 2014 upped the reason for owning 4 wheels in VAN (car rental companies here are very anti-pet). I don't envy your car shopping, but wish you the best!

laura k said...

Hi drf! I hope you and WEB are well.

I agree, a necessary evil -- but an evil I'm so grateful to have. After living in NYC for 22 years, not owning a car, using transit only and renting cars when needed, I *really* appreciate the convenience. I was so tired of schlepping everywhere.

Car rentals everywhere are anti-pet, as far as I know. We always had our dogs in rental cars -- requiring A LOT of clean-up! Allan would use one of those car vacs you see at car wash places. I could say it wasn't so bad, but he did 100% of the cleaning!

He was somehow able to remove all trace of dogs -- and our first dog was large and the heaviest shedder I've ever seen. (30 years later, I still have never seen a dog with a coat as thick as hers.)

I look forward to that back-up camera...!

Jay Farquharson said...


A word of warning about newer SUV’s/Trucks/AWD’s.

They have a large number of features controlled by computers to “aid” traction, braking and handling.

As an example, active braking. A sensor detects wheel spin on the left rear wheel, the brake on that one wheel are slightly applied, and because of the open differential effect, slightly more power is applied to the right wheel to maintain speed and traction.

The Driver notices nothing. As you drive in the snow, ice, gravel, wet leaves, heavy rain, the computers make thousands of minor and major adjustments to keep the greasy side down.

Right up until the vehicle speed and road conditions exceed the processing speed of the computers or the algorithms.

I learned this by putting 2+2 together. Every winter, there is a big pile of late model SUV’s/Trucks/AWD’s off the road and over the fence at Ebl’s Corner. There shouldn’t be, but Ice Fishermen and other’s, driving too fast for the conditions, lose it there for microclimate reasons.

The other side of the equation was renting a Ford Exploder, we called The Spaceship, then a Hundai. I had zero “feel” for the road or what the vehicle was doinf, but I backtacked both through fresh snow, found places where wheels had slipped, bounced, skidded, microbraked with out me being the least bit aware of it.

So, be aware, there’s a lot of drivers out there, driving too fast for the conditions, thinking they are great drivers, when in reality, the computers are constantly correcting for their mistakes.