This is my second post on gas prices. In the first one, I asked if gas prices are really high. Before you laugh, read here and then you can comment in that post. This post intends to examine if I should trade my old truck for something more fuel efficient.
I drive a 2004 Dodge Dakota SLT. It's not a huge truck and the V8 actually gets a little bit better mileage than the V6 model. But when I drive to Columbia (about 100 miles) I only get about 18mpg. It's very hilly and I just can't do better. I've long said I wanted a Miata (see my mid-life crisis post here), but for fuel efficiency, I've been looking at the Chevy Cobalts. The four door Sport Sedan gets about 32mpg.
So, let's say I trade my truck in for a Cobalt. Makes sense, right? I'd be going from 18 mpg to 32mpg (hopefully). On a normal trip to Columbia, I'd be saving almost 5 gallons of gas every trip. At $4/gallon, that's $20 savings every single trip.
Of course, I couldn't trade even my truck for a Cobalt (and I'd miss my truck). KBB says that the Cobalt is going for $19,850, let's call it $20,000 (nice even number). KBB says it's worth about $8,000. That leaves $12,000 that I have to pay or finance.
Now by saving $20 per trip, it would only take me 600 trips to make this financially attractive. I probably average going about 3 times every two weeks, so the financial trade off is only about 7 years 8 months. MAKES GOOD SENSE, RIGHT?
Of course, one aspect I'm missing here is the fact that if I were going to get a new vehicle anyway, it would make more sense to buy something more fuel efficient. But wait a minute, fuel efficiency isn't the whole story. Clark Howard has an entry on his website (here) with the 10 cheapest cars. You may notice that there's only one hybrid on the list and it's ranked number 10.
So here's the net. The cheapest car to own is the one you already have. Don't trade just for fuel efficiency. When you do trade, look at fuel efficiency, but look at other things too.
Now a comment about comments. I LOVE comments. I'd appreciate reading yours. This topic has generated some off-the-wall sub-topics that I've promised to research. If you have a facet of gas prices you'd like me to look at, please look at my initial post and comment there. I promise, I'll look at it and comment back. Most likely, I'll blog about it later.
If you have a comment specific to this post, please post it here and I'll comment back. Thanks