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Author Topic: Need a little auto buying advice - Part 2 (Premium vs. regular gas)
Lyrhawn
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Shamelessly double posting this from what I put on Sakeriver, so some of you may have seen it twice. I'm really on the fence though and could use your thoughts.

So I'm in the market for a new car and I've been hemming and hawing so much on what I want to do I'm afraid I've lost perspective on the issue. Hoping others might weigh in with their opinions.

A little background: I drive a 2008 Ford Focus. I bought it 4 years ago and have a year left on the loan. The only thing other than regular maintenance that I've done to it is buy new tires a couple years ago, but I feel like it's right on the tipping point of major repairs. It is just about to turn 60,000 miles. It needs new brake pads, probably some suspension work, vibrates rather heavily at idle, and loud music suitably covers a consistent whoomping sound from under the car. It probably needs a new battery soon, or at least service to the current one, which is 6 years old. In other words; it has problems. My current car payment is $147 a month for another 15 months.

Add to that I just started working at GM and I want to park closer to my building rather than fight my way through snow and wind all the way from the Exile Lot. Plus I'm making more money now, so I can afford an upgrade.

So I want to get a GM car and I like small cars, so I've narrowed my choices to this:

1. Leasing a 2014 Chevy Cruze. The I priced out was roughly $215 a month with $500 due at signing. It's not a base model, nor is it totally loaded with amenities. It has one or two extras. I considered buying and I know it's a popular car, but the longterm quality ratings suck, so I'm afraid of longterm repair bills and depreciation.

2. Buy a used Buick Verano. I'm looking at two cars at local dealerships, one a 2013 and the other a 2014 (priced $19K and $18K respectively). The 2013 is loaded, it has literally everything they offer on it. The 2014 is just shy of loaded, all it's missing is a sunroof, the upgraded turbo engine, and a nav system (the last of which I don't care about). Both are Certified Pre-Owned and come with a variety of warranties and 2 year maint. packages. The 2014 was a fleet vehicle for a rental agency, which I'm on the fence on. Extra wear and tear, perhaps, but probably well maintained.

3. Waiting awhile to see if better deals roll around and probably spending $1,000 to get my car through the winter and into next year in good working order.

There are pros and cons to all of the choices. I have about $2250-$2500 in equity in my Focus to use, depending on how much more I can talk the salesman up. My credit union offers a very low interest rate, though the dealership may be running a 0% interest special.

So, I could go with the Cruze, cash in my car and bank $2,000, have a better car, though not one that particularly excited me. I prefer to buy cars so I have something left in them at the end, rather than endlessly renting. I'm only considering because it's a decent deal, and I won't have to worry about repairs for 3 years. Other than that, I think the Cruze is pretty blah.

I could go with the Verano, which I really love. It's whisper quiet, rides smooth, and has more bells and whistles than I'd probably know what to do with at first. It also has very highly rated long term quality ratings. Plus I just like the idea of having something really nice for a few years. If I put my trade-in money into it, and another $2,000 of my own money, I could get the payments down to around $260, which is close to my maximum payment I'd be happy with. The downside: that's a lot of money.

And then there's keeping my current car. I really feel like sinking money into it would be a waste. It wouldn't increase the value of the car. In many ways I think taking the trade-in money and running rather than dumping a bucket of cash into it is the smartest move no matter what car I choose next.

Thoughts?

[ November 25, 2014, 11:49 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Kwea
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We rented a Cruze while ours was being repaired after our recent accident, and it was good. I liked it, but my wife didn't. Lots of pep, but a little small for us compared to the Nissan Sentra we were use to driving.
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Wingracer
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Good GM Vehicles

1. C7 Corvette.

2. Cadillac ATS-V

3. Silverado.

4. Nothing.

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MrSquicky
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You almost definitely know this and are choosing to go a different way, but I wanted to check that you know that GM offers an employee purchase program for their cars. I know nothing about it other than it exists though.
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RivalOfTheRose
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Ever think of buying a car outright, so you don't have to make any payments?
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by MrSquicky:
You almost definitely know this and are choosing to go a different way, but I wanted to check that you know that GM offers an employee purchase program for their cars. I know nothing about it other than it exists though.

Yeah, it's part of the pricing on the lease for the Cruz. I actually only get a supplier discount as a contract worker, but I can use my brother's full discount anyway. Regardless, it only applies to brand new vehicles, and a couple grand off a $25K+ vehicle still doesn't bring it into line with what I can afford. I looked into it though. It's nice for shaving off some from the payment on a lease, but I still don't think it makes buying new a good option for most people.

Rival - Payments don't bother me in and of themselves. I don't have enough cash on hand to buy any car I'd actually want to drive more than the one I currently have. But the APR at my credit union is so low that the interest and payments don't really bother me.

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by RivalOfTheRose:
Ever think of buying a car outright, so you don't have to make any payments?

I attempted to do this 6 months ago, and the saleslady talked me out of it. It was a new 2014 Skoda Fabia. She talked me into 70% down and 0% interest on the lifetime of the financing (2 years). They do this because if you "lease to buy," they can sell you their in-house insurance policy. I went for it because the insurance rate was better than anything else I'd get, and I had the money anyway.

But large downpayments are standard here. Mortgages are typically 30% or more down, and cars up to 70%, or else the terms are not very good (like 8%).

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Lyrhawn
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Yikes.

I can get below 2% with nothing down at all. On the one hand I think people probably should have at least something for a downpayment. But on the other, if you can afford the monthly payment, I don't see why you should be penalized for not having anything on hand.

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Orincoro
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It's a very different culture when it comes to debt. Most people have no credit cards, mortgages are 10 years, and the typical consumer carries no debt at all.

There are advantages- no housing bubbles, very stable financial system, very low costs.

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Samprimary
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if you can't get your hands on a repurposed Edsel with some frame damage (such a deal) then just go to a land rover dealership and purchase their heaviest car new. hand them the price on the sticker and don't haggle.
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GaalDornick
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And the award for the biggest troll goes to...
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tertiaryadjunct
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Your car barely has 60k miles on it and the "problems" you listed sound negligible, to say the least.

This isn't the 1970's - modern cars don't fall to pieces before 100k, they tend to last at least 200k before they're not worth keeping up. My current Subaru is at 282k right now (I bought it with 175k on it for $3,000 and have probably put another $1200 in beyond routine maintenance), my previous car reached 225k and the Mercedes I had before that reached 355k (diesel FTW).

The idea that a young (but nearly paid off) car like yours is too expensive to do a little maintenance on so instead it's time to jump into another 5 years of car payments... I don't get it. Spend the $1500 to get things in good shape (avoid the dealer) and drive that Ford for another 6 years.

In fairness, I think buying new cars is a bad idea in general unless you really have money to spare on crazy luxuries, so I may be a bit biased.

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advice for robots
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Kinda sucks that you work for GM and therefore feel obligated to get a GM car. [Smile] With the exception of a vintage Corvette Stingray, maybe, I can't think of one GM product that really gets my palms sweating. If you don't absolutely have to pull into your work parking lot in a GM, I'd suggest something made by Toyota or Nissan, personally. My little Nissan pickup is the most reliable vehicle I've ever driven. I bought it used 10 years ago and had to get something fixed on the axle shortly after that. Since then, it's only been in for oil changes, tires, and the occasional worn-out belt.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by tertiaryadjunct:
Your car barely has 60k miles on it and the "problems" you listed sound negligible, to say the least.

This isn't the 1970's - modern cars don't fall to pieces before 100k, they tend to last at least 200k before they're not worth keeping up. My current Subaru is at 282k right now (I bought it with 175k on it for $3,000 and have probably put another $1200 in beyond routine maintenance), my previous car reached 225k and the Mercedes I had before that reached 355k (diesel FTW).

The idea that a young (but nearly paid off) car like yours is too expensive to do a little maintenance on so instead it's time to jump into another 5 years of car payments... I don't get it. Spend the $1500 to get things in good shape (avoid the dealer) and drive that Ford for another 6 years.

In fairness, I think buying new cars is a bad idea in general unless you really have money to spare on crazy luxuries, so I may be a bit biased.

Well, I agree to a point. I didn't buy my current car new, and I'm not buying the next one new. They're both used. But regardless I was never planning to drive it another six years. At most I'd fix it and drive it for two. But I have the money and inclination to get a newer used one, and I won't have lost anything on this car really, it came out a much better deal than leasing would have been.

I had a Focus before this one. At 70,000 miles a rod punched through the engine block and I had to replace the whole motor. So I'm not all that optimistic when it feels like that happening all over again.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Kinda sucks that you work for GM and therefore feel obligated to get a GM car. [Smile] With the exception of a vintage Corvette Stingray, maybe, I can't think of one GM product that really gets my palms sweating. If you don't absolutely have to pull into your work parking lot in a GM, I'd suggest something made by Toyota or Nissan, personally. My little Nissan pickup is the most reliable vehicle I've ever driven. I bought it used 10 years ago and had to get something fixed on the axle shortly after that. Since then, it's only been in for oil changes, tires, and the occasional worn-out belt.

To be honest I don't have a lot of exposure to imports. My family has been through dozens of cars but no one has ever owned anything but a domestic car. This is including cousins, aunts and uncles. Well, except one part of the family, but they live in Texas. I also just don't see that many on the road. But when I do, I actually think most of them are pretty ugly. We were mostly a Ford family growing up, but my last two cars with Ford haven't been the most pleasant experience, so I'm ready to move on. Working for GM just guides my hand a bit, but I wasn't seriously looking at anything else anyway. And I actually like the Verano a lot. It's by no means an unwilling decision I'm being forced into. I was already thinking of trading mine in for something else, and I like the cars I'm looking at (well, the Veranos. The Cruzes look boring).

In my dreams I'd actually rather have a Volt, but I can't afford that.

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Bokonon
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If you can, try to last toward the end of the year. Sales people will be pressured to get the "old" stuff off the lot to get the newer models on, so you may get deals that way.

If you want to go a different route, try internet shopping at as many dealerships as is feasible, and use each of them to compete against the other. I saved a fair bit on my most recent car that way.

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Lyrhawn
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Monday I'm driving up to a slightly further away dealership to look at another car. If I like it, I plan on playing let's make a deal between the two of them.

Hoping it works out as well for me as it did for you.

A lot of my decision will depend on the loan rate I can get, how much I can talk them up on trade-in value, and how the test drive goes. I'm between two Veranos, but they're quite a bit different in features.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Kinda sucks that you work for GM and therefore feel obligated to get a GM car. [Smile] With the exception of a vintage Corvette Stingray, maybe, I can't think of one GM product that really gets my palms sweating. If you don't absolutely have to pull into your work parking lot in a GM, I'd suggest something made by Toyota or Nissan, personally. My little Nissan pickup is the most reliable vehicle I've ever driven. I bought it used 10 years ago and had to get something fixed on the axle shortly after that. Since then, it's only been in for oil changes, tires, and the occasional worn-out belt.

I drive my brother's 2002 Nissan Frontier a lot (he's currently at school in Texas and left it here), and that thing's rock solid. I throw our kayaks in the back, grills, bikes, etc. It's pretty much our beach/outdoor sport vehicle. I recently built a platform in the back to hold our paddle boards. The ~20 MPG is great, too. Only problem it's ever had is some electrical problems (windows), which was pretty easy to fix. They're great vehicles.
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advice for robots
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Lyrhawn:
I think for the money you might be thinking of spending on a new GM car, you might get more bang for your buck on a used Toyota Corolla, maybe a Honda Civic. Certainly not exciting cars, but they seem to last and last without breaking down all the time. The last GM car I owned, a Pontiac Bonneville, pretty much demanded one or two major repairs a year. We bought it outright but were still effectively making payments on it until we gave up and got rid of it. Our Toyota Sienna, which we've had for the same amount of time as the Bonneville now, has needed thousands of dollars less in repairs over the years and is still going strong while the Bonneville had crapped out entirely by that age.

For me, there's just no comparison. I want to like the big Detroit 3, but I'm not interested in having to replace or overhaul every 4-5 years. And that means sticking with the makers who make cars that really last.

Dogbreath:
Mine's a 96 Nissan Pickup, 2WD. It has its drawbacks, including not a ton of power and very poor traction, as well as being just a 2-seater cab. But it's been so reliable that I can't bring myself to exchange it for anything else. I can haul stuff with it, it gets decent enough mileage, and costs me next to nothing in repairs. I love that little truck.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think for the money you might be thinking of spending on a new GM car, you might get more bang for your buck on a used Toyota Corolla, maybe a Honda Civic.
Part of his goal is to own a GM car so he can park closer to the door of the GM headquarters where he is now working.
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scifibum
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We're inclined to equate anecdote with predictive data when it comes to car reliability, but it's a mistake. "My 2006 Brand X has been way more reliable than my 2001 Brand Y" is not sufficient data to predict anyone else's likely experiences.

GM is better than its reputation when you look at data for more recent model years - it's coming up near the top of some rankings these days. But of course the reliability of a specific model (or at least the specific platform that spans several models) can vary within the same make.

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I think for the money you might be thinking of spending on a new GM car, you might get more bang for your buck on a used Toyota Corolla, maybe a Honda Civic.
Part of his goal is to own a GM car so he can park closer to the door of the GM headquarters where he is now working.
What I had assumed, too, but then he said this:
quote:
Working for GM just guides my hand a bit, but I wasn't seriously looking at anything else anyway.... It's by no means an unwilling decision I'm being forced into.
Leaving me to think he was still possibly open to suggestions.
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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
We're inclined to equate anecdote with predictive data when it comes to car reliability, but it's a mistake. "My 2006 Brand X has been way more reliable than my 2001 Brand Y" is not sufficient data to predict anyone else's likely experiences.

GM is better than its reputation when you look at data for more recent model years - it's coming up near the top of some rankings these days. But of course the reliability of a specific model (or at least the specific platform that spans several models) can vary within the same make.

True, true. And if I were shopping for a car, I'd be looking closely at the data as well. But my past experiences are definitely going to skew which direction I lean. If I know a particular make, model, and model year are reliable, I'm likely to go toward that rather than taking a chance on a new model that looks good on paper but hasn't been proven yet. Personally, I'll let GM take a few years to prove it's got its act together with reliability before I'll start considering it seriously again.
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Mucus
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I would also add that we are in a thread where someone is considering giving up an American car after a mere 60K since the car is "right on the tipping point of major repairs."

Reputation matters, it affects your likelihood of sticking with it and making minor repairs or giving up ahead of time.

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Wendybird
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Go with the car you love. If you don't enjoy driving it you will just want to switch it up again later. This coming from someone who has spent a fair bit of my life in my car ferrying children all over the city. Our last car was a Buick Rendezvous and I spent a lot of time researching what I wanted before getting it. Even with its flaws I loved that vehicle. Unfortunately our dirt road shortened its life and when we moved off the dirt we traded it for a Mitsubishi Lancer with a few bells and whistles. I enjoy that car but I miss my Rendezvous.
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Lyrhawn
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Addendum to earlier questions -

I've mostly settled on a Buick Verano. I'm now finding out that the Turbo model recommends premium gas.

Now, I know if it says required, you use premium gas. But I've been told if it's recommended, you can use regular and just suffer some slight performance issues. You won't get the most out of it, but you won't hurt the engine in any way.

Can anyone confirm?

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tertiaryadjunct
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The ECU (the computer controlling the engine) should make adjustments as necessary to keep the engine running just fine, though I imagine it's possible the performance degradation might actually cost you money if the car can get higher milage with premium. I've never had a gasoline car with a turbo (just my diesel Mercedes), but it seems to me like running on regular could mostly make the turbo useless if the ECU has to lower boost levels.

If you do a little googling I'll guarantee you find a forum dedicated to the Buick Verano (or at worst Buicks in general), and someone with the same model would almost certainly have an answer to your question. There's no shortage of car people on the nets.

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Lyrhawn
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I actually did that before I posted. There are a couple forums for Verano owners.

Half of them say it's personal preference.

Half of them say the car will be ruined within a year.

The dealership said regular won't hurt the car at all, it'll just lose some of its zip.

My fears are allayed somewhat. I think I'll experiment with midgrade.

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GaalDornick
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If you have a Costco around you, their premium gas is almost the same price as regular gas at other stations in the area.
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Wingracer
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Generally speaking, I would always recommend premium in any car with forced induction (turbo or supercharger) but regular is not going to hurt it unless GM did some really stupid engine mapping with the ECU. For normal daily driving it will be fine.

If you ever do any towing, heavy hauling on a long trip, track days (racing) or mountainous driving, fill that thing up with premium.

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tertiaryadjunct
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Haha, I forgot that where there's car people, there's also rabid disagreement about every little thing.

When you get the car, do a few tanks of premium and a few tanks of regular and compare your milage (assuming similar commutes) just to be sure you're not actually throwing away money buying the cheaper fuel.

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Heisenberg
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"The ~20 MPG is great, too."

Only in America can you hear this without sarcasm.

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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Heisenberg:
"The ~20 MPG is great, too."

Only in America can you hear this without sarcasm.

How many large 4WD, 250 horsepower 2 ton pickup trucks do you know of that get significantly better mileage than that? There are a lot of American made cars (not trucks, cars) that get worse mileage than that, including the old Chrysler LHS I drive. OTOH, my wife drives a Toyota that does 40 MPG, which is pretty great. It's not a pickup, though.

So again, what sort of super fuel efficient pickup trucks do you have in England that makes you feel that 20 MPG on a pickup is laughable?

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Heisenberg
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We don't have pickups in England. Well, the very wealthy have SUV's, but I don't believe that I've seen a pickup once I moved back a year ago.

For one thing, gas is about $7.44 a gallon over there. For another thing, the majority of the roads are thin enough to make driving a large vehicle frustrating at best, and impossible at worst.

And the opinion of the majority over here, and this is just an opinion, of course, is that pickups and the like are just ridiculous vehicles. The attitude is a little like what many people in the States felt about Hummers.

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Wingracer:
Generally speaking, I would always recommend premium in any car with forced induction (turbo or supercharger) but regular is not going to hurt it unless GM did some really stupid engine mapping with the ECU. For normal daily driving it will be fine.

If you ever do any towing, heavy hauling on a long trip, track days (racing) or mountainous driving, fill that thing up with premium.

That's what I've heard from a few people. I'm going to do tests to see how the performance and fuel efficiency is and maybe I'll settle at regular or mid grade every day and maybe premium for road trips.
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Heisenberg:
We don't have pickups in England. Well, the very wealthy have SUV's, but I don't believe that I've seen a pickup once I moved back a year ago.

For one thing, gas is about $7.44 a gallon over there. For another thing, the majority of the roads are thin enough to make driving a large vehicle frustrating at best, and impossible at worst.

Yes, I was in England in September, and the fact I rented a tiny VW that got 50 MPG is the only thing that made the gas prices palatable. (To be fair, though, *everything* is expensive there. I paid a £250 security deposit for the car, which is crazy IMO)

But that doesn't answer my question. Why do you think 20 MPG on a pickup is laughable?

quote:
And the opinion of the majority over here, and this is just an opinion, of course, is that pickups and the like are just ridiculous vehicles. The attitude is a little like what many people in the States felt about Hummers.
Yes, but we don't drive the pickup every day. We use it for transporting our kayaks to the beach, carrying our grill and cooler, moving, off-roading, camping, and similar purposes. And our family friends borrow it often for similar reasons - how exactly do you transport a couch in a subcompact?

Hummers otoh are A) ludicrously expensive and B) lack any real utility or functionality. I can understand why a pickup truck is rediculous in, say, NYC but if you live somewhere where you do a lot of outdoors activities or have to drive off road, a pickup makes a lot of sense.

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Heisenberg
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For a pickup, 20 mpg is decent.

To be honest, I was kind of ignoring the pickup part of it. At least in Britain, 20 mpg is just laughable, and if you try to say well it's a pickup, they'll just wonder why you got a pickup.

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Orincoro
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But for a car, it isn't. Be kind to the earth. Take the bus.
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Dogbreath
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quote:
Originally posted by Heisenberg:
For a pickup, 20 mpg is decent.

To be honest, I was kind of ignoring the pickup part of it. At least in Britain, 20 mpg is just laughable, and if you try to say well it's a pickup, they'll just wonder why you got a pickup.

*nods*, the entire context of what I was saying was "for a pickup". It's almost twice the MPG of some American-made pickups. Which is one of the strange things about American cars, they get absolutely wretched mileage in comparison to German or Japanese cars.

Unfortunately, the public transportion in a lot of the U.S. is poor or nonexistent, so riding a bus isn't really feasible. They're building a monorail here which should be finished in a few years, though.

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tertiaryadjunct
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A pickup is certainly crazy as a daily driver (unless it's a job necessity) but they really are incredibly useful in those occasional situations where you need one. I borrow my mom's Chevy Silverado (also ~20 MPG) on a regular basis for all sorts of things - the aforementioned furniture moving, hauling green yard waste to the recycling center (or the reverse, hauling mulch home), getting lumber for home improvement projects, etc. Don't know what I'd do if it wasn't available for occasional borrowing.

(On a related note, it was bought new and is at 260k miles and still running great with no major unexpected repairs. I still can't wrap my head around the idea that a 60k vehicle could be considered old. [Wink] )

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Dogbreath
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Yeah, I've never even bought a car with less than 100,000 miles on it. I consider 60,000 miles practically new. Maybe I just come from a different economic background or something, since I don't know anyone who would consider 60,000 old.

(OTOH, I do a lot of repairs myself (up to replacing power steering pumps, that sort of thing. Nothing major) and maintain my vehicles pretty well)

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Dogbreath
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Also, http://www.statista.com/statistics/316769/new-pickup-registrations-in-the-uk/

A fairly sizable chunk of vehicles registered in the UK seem to be pickup trucks. Which makes sense, I saw quite a few driving from London to Exeter and a cursory search shows that they're fairly popular in the UK, especially with people who have to use them for work.

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tertiaryadjunct
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As a comparison:

Based on the numbers there, that's about 1 new pickup truck per 2000 people in the UK (and conservatively assuming a truck lasts 10 years, 1 truck per 200 people overall). 1.6 million pickups were sold in the U.S. In 2012, or about 1 per 200 people. Pickups are 10x more common in the U.S. A town the size of the one I live in would have 500 pickups in the UK, vs 5000 in the U.S.

The difference is large but not as stark as I would have imagined.

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Dogbreath
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Actually, going off the total number of vehicles sold in the UK, they account for about 2.5% of POVs. (There are fewer automobiles per capita in the U.K.) I think they're used more for utility than, say, the U.S. but it's a far cry from "we don't have pickups in England."
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Dogbreath:
Yeah, I've never even bought a car with less than 100,000 miles on it. I consider 60,000 miles practically new. Maybe I just come from a different economic background or something, since I don't know anyone who would consider 60,000 old.

(OTOH, I do a lot of repairs myself (up to replacing power steering pumps, that sort of thing. Nothing major) and maintain my vehicles pretty well)

If I knew how to do repairs myself that might have changed the equation a little. Growing up we moved from junker to junker every few years because it was all we could afford. But now I have a decent job and I'm single with no kids. I can afford a little luxury.

I also have a slightly different experience, perhaps, with mileage. My last car basically exploded at 70,000 miles, so personal history with cars colors my judgment a bit when they reach a certain milestone.

I ended up selling the car to a friend whose cousin is a mechanic. She got a great deal on a relatively low mileage car she can basically fix for cost + beer. Beats the 200K mile Saturn she was driving that had no working HVAC. And I got to trade up to something a little fancier. Worked out for everyone in the end.

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