07 June 2011

Ice Cold A/C

When black smoke begins to billow from your tailpipe and the Volvo station wagon that was meant to be a tank and to keep your family safe begins to chug and shutter at the slightest provocation and the estimated costs of repair are twice the Blue Book value of your ancient piece of crap vehicle, it's time to get a new car. So we did.

We did our homework and as much as it pains me to say that a kicking moon roof and heated leather seats are not worth the ten grand the Prius seemed to be charging for them, they just aren't. Also, is it just me or do heated seats make you feel like you've peed your pants? It's a sensation akin to being given IV contrast for those of you who, like I do, obsess about the weird bumps and nubbins we all have somewhere in our bodies and end up being given unnecessary CT scans. I don't need to pay extra for that.

The result of much angst and frustration is that we are now the proud owners of a shiny and new Honda Insight, a car that has managed to get 49 miles a gallon on the two occasions I have driven it. Well done, Honda.

Of course this meant that we had to say goodbye to the station wagon. Goodbye ice cold A/C. Goodbye to the torn leather seats. Goodbye to the strange black fuzz on the passenger side ceiling. Goodbye to the missing drive shaft. And, thus, goodbye to the hole in the transmission where said drive shaft should have been.

Yes. We got fleeced. We're aware. Time to move on.

Move on we will, at 49 mpg and a range of 400+ miles per tank of gas, we'll move far. Like to Canada.

Then, while we were wading through the paperwork, a couple walked into the dealership with their brand new baby in tow. What better way to celebrate a new life than a new car? Fine. The infant, all of seven or eight pounds, slept angelically in its carrier. The baby's mom and dad, seemingly in their mid twenties and without any other children (we were to confirm with our sales rep) went straight for the Pilot.

Now I don't mean to tell anyone else how to run their lives, but might I at the very least suggest that maybe this is what's wrong with our country? That and, you know, the really bad stuff. But seriously, do two adult and a child the size of a small pumpkin really need a car that comfortably seats eight and gets only 17 miles per gallon in the city? Do they, perhaps, have to ferry three large Alsatians to and from doggie daycare on a regular basis? They do not. Nor do they carpool with a family of circus clowns. They just really, really like big cars. That's what they told the sales rep as they signed on the dotted line and drove the monster truck away.


Now obviously we're not the most energy efficient family. We try. In fact, Daryl spent six hours today meeting with a lovely man from Next Step Living only to be told that our house is so far beyond help that we don't actually qualify for the government subsidies covering such frivolities as insulation, for example, or the new lightbulbs that were painstakingly replaced in all forty light fixtures and then taken out again. He giveth with one hand and with the other he taketh away. Regardless we have a long way to go.

In the meantime, we bought a hybrid.

It's the least we can do to make up for the fact that our house literally bleeds heat through the winter months and there is nothing we can do, so it seems, to stop it.


  1. While the mentioned family in your post may just like a big vehicle, they may in fact just have some foresight. Given said only child will be in a car seat of some form or another for the next 8 years (according to state law in Massachusetts)if said family chooses to add another member to their family, there will be no room for anyone but the driver and passenger seat occupant to ride in the car. Therefore forcing said family to take 2 vehicles if they need to transport other people. And for those who pride themselves on being environmentally friendly with their vehicles, I ask is it better to drive 2 cars or 1?

  2. Point absolutely taken. With four adults in our household and one car seat so far, we've struggled with what the right vehicle might be to cart all of us around on the rare occasions when we travel in a pack. Having just come from a playground where there were more parked vehicles than children (parents seemingly having come separately from work), it seems that the reality is that carpooling - as much as we might want the company - is the rarity. And when hybrids use less than half the gas the standard SUVs do, two cars might actually make sense as much as it feels impossible that this would be true. Also, given that kids are in car seats for so many years, I think we're unfortunately less likely to carpool our medium sized kids than parents of only a few years ago, pre-booster seat. It's just too much work to move the seats between cars. In the meantime, if you come across a car that will fit four adults, one toddler, and a crazy labrador that won't make Al Gore cry, let me know. I'm certainly in the market.