OK. I'm joining the world of people who use mass transit. Mainly because my car cracked in half. But also because of the green (environmental) and money saving aspects of it. So... anyone here have any tips to make the transition smoother?
I should probably explain a little more about what happened... I was out the other day with my wife and daughter doing some errands. While we were out I noticed that my car (1998 Nissan Sentra) was making this odd squeaking noise when I'd turn right in it. I'd heard this kind of thing before and guessed it was a CV boot, maybe a tie rod or ball joint. So I took it into the shop we go to for all of our ill cars. These guys have always been on the level with us and have given us quite a few freebies for small work. I told them what was going on and they said they'd take a look at in on Friday.
So Friday afernoon my cell rings. I was actually expecting work since it's encroached onto my personal time so much for the past half a year. I was a bit relieved to hear that it was the service station. The guy said he had some bad news. I figured... this car is nearly nine years old, I don't think anything will be bad news as long as it's under $1500 to fix. He explained that the car is a unibody and that it appears to have suffered a major fracture due to rusting from the inside of the frame on the right hand side of the car. Seeing that the body is all one piece, there is no "part" to replace and it's not really safe to drive.
I drank that in for a minute. Then I thought of how lucky I was that I didn't wind up in a horrible wreck. I was even doubly lucky since I've carted my family around many times in that car on the freeway. So he tells me a bit more and I ask him what my next step would be. He said, he wouldn't suggest selling it. Nor would he suggest donating it to anyone. Trade-in is a possibility. And scrapping it is probably the best option. So that's the route I chose. Scrap it and be done with it. And since he whole gas powered automobile thing is in flux right now, I'm going to wait it out on buying a new car. Hell, I live within 15 minutes of the downtown area I work in and rarely need to go far in general. We still have my wife's car if I need to be at one of the rare meetings in another city. So why not take advantage of that closeness to work, and the mass transportation system?
I'm sure someone will tell me I could have just gotten the same car with a dead engine and replaced it with my working one, etc... I'm not a car guy, and to be honeest, I've been researching alternative transportation for a while. I keep hoping that someone will release a fully electric plug-in automobile that is safe and street legal and can go at least 150 miles on a charge at a maximum of 60 MPH. So far, no takers. The closest is to get a hybrid and then get the plug-in modification done. That's basically a replacement of all batteries and installation of a charger.
But, the more important point at hand is that I can now drop my insurance and save about $400 a year on that. I can also drop my parking pass for the garage downtown which is $110 a month (of course bus passes are $45 a month, but that's still a savings). And of course with gas hovering at about $3.00 a gallon and likely to climb to $4.00, I suspect I'll save a good chunk there too. So here's the current plan: go with one car for at least six months and see if it can be done with a minimum of fuss. Meanwhile save the extra money that I'm not spending on parking, gas, insurance and plates, for a down payment on a new car. I already have enough for a decent down payment now. But, we should hopefully get an OK tax refund, which would boost any savings up and put us in a really good position to get a new car. I can then spend some time researching the best options for a real alternative to gas powered automobiles. Ideally, the next car won't run on gas at all...
So there you have it. That's why I'm going to start using either the bus that pulls up to the neighboring street, or the rapid transit (sort of a subway type affair) starting on Monday.