Buying a car

by lagirl

Finally after 13 years of driving my Corolla I am going to buy a new car. Some of you may remember I wanted the Lexus IS 250 but have recently become enamored with the new Civic. Clearly the Civic will be much cheaper. I test drove it and it feels very similar to my Corolla.

Any tips of negotiating through email? They told me that they don’t offer 0% financing but i know a lot of companies do.

Also, I’m interested in changing my insurance company as well-anyone have one they really like?


127 thoughts on “Buying a car

  1. They told me that they don’t offer 0% financing but i know a lot of companies do.

    Right, but not Honda. Have you looked at a Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, Ford Focus, Chevy Cruz, VW Golf, Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, etc? Also, check out the Acura ILX which is halfway between the Civic and the IS.

  2. It seems to be more common for the dealership to “delay the start of your payments” for 6-12 weeks as their default. However, if you ask what happens if your first payment is sooner (say 2 weeks), you find out that it lowers your payments because they are charging you interest over that “delay” on the full balance of the financed amount. Unless you truly have a cash flow issue, this delay is not in your favor.

    We just changed coverage with our current company (and priced some others at the same time) after adding DD#1 to the list of drivers. It was very frustrating that it was very hard to compare. We found we had an “older” policy that no one writes anymore, so we had to change “features” if we wanted to change our rate at all. But, even then with “newer” poicies, it was hard to get comparisons as each company put slightly different things in their packages. Good luck!

  3. If you want to avoid the “negotiation” part of the deal and get the best price, please see Meme’s post within the past 10 days on her purchase of a vehicle. But essentially, set up an account on Truecar dot com, configure the vehicle(s) you’re willing to consider, and see what comes back. If the dealer with the lowest price is farther than you want to drive to get the car, possibly (1) they’ll bring it to you so you can test drive the car in your neighborhood, do the deal on your turf or (2) you can use the “will you match Truecar?” approach with a dealer closer to you. Given your location, there will be tons of dealers competing for your business.

  4. My husband has had USAA insurance since 1971 and it is a great company to deal with. They were only for officers and their families but they have opened their enrollment to non-officers. See if your parents or grandparents are eligible. We got a great loan from them and of course all our insurance needs for the past 45+ years.

    We have a CR-V since 2006, my daughter had a Civic and now an Accord. We have been very pleased with our Hondas. My daughter’s Civic blew the transmission at 143,000 miles. I don’t think the car was responsible; my daughter likes jack rabbit starts and late stops. She goes through brakes like crazy. Tried to teach her the way my dad taught me – easy on, easy off. Glad she no longer drives one of our cars – she is 37 tomorrow. My dad’s last car, Oldsmobile, had 285,000 miles when he stopped driving and it still drove and felt great.

  5. I like the new Civic. And I recently had an Elantra as a rental car, and thought that was very impressive: very quiet, smooth, comfortable, and 40 mpg. All for under $16k, apparently, according to truecar. It’s just a marvel what *they* can offer these days.

    My CRV’s check engine light has returned. Back in December, the mechanic said it either needed a new O2 sensor, a new cat. conv., or both. But he wanted to try the O2 sensor first and see if that solved it. It did, but now the light’s back.

    On Friday, I’ll see what’s what. If it’s the catalytic convertor, I’m not sure what I’ll do. It’s at 200,000 miles. The state inspection is good through the end of October. One option would be to do nothing, use it for as many miles as possible between now and Halloween, and then dump it. Or I may spend the $600 or $700 and tell it it’s time to toe the line now or get sold. Or it might be something totally different.

  6. I will also have to replace my car this year, but not until the end of the year when the lease is up. I won’t get another Audi – it feels too fragile on any potholes whatsoever.

  7. We went through Costco for our minivan which was easy. Went to Carmax to get a quote on our trade in which was above what the dealer initially offered us for our old Highlander and the dealer matched. Honda doesn’t offer 0% but I think we got 0.9% over 3 years which was small enough for us to finance. I am sending in my last payment next month and DH is now perusing cars because his is almost 9 years old. I told him he needs to wait until at least ten years and then he can start looking. His Infiniti only has about 40,000 miles on it so I’d like to not buy a new car for a few more years but I think DH just wants a new car.

  8. Ah, that’s the MQB platform that VW uses for the Golf, Polo, Skoda etc. The MLB platform is used for the A4, A6, A8. In fact, the 2017 A4 uses the same MLBevo platform as the new A8 and the Bentley Bentayga.

  9. Rhett – what does that mean in non-car speak? :)

    Lagirl, insurance can be pretty local. We have a local insurance agency and they shopped around and found us a cheaper policy for both home and auto. IIRC our auto switched from Liberty Mutual to MAPFRE/Commerce and the price went down by maybe 40%!

  10. Rhett – what does that mean in non-car speak? :)

    The MLB platform is the expensive one designed for luxury cars so they spent a lot of time and money on structural rigidity, ride quality and overall NVH*. The MQB is the economy car platform so cost was a bigger component of the design process and as a result the platform isn’t as smooth, quite and rigid.

    * Noise Vibration and Harshness.

  11. Rhett: I can’t look at other cars…otherwise I’ll never make a decision. The only downside to the Civic is that it doesn’t have a CD player….everyone keeps telling me to join the 21st century but I have a large CD collection. But the car has everything else and is wayyyyy cheaper than the IS 250. Plus I love the red color I plan to get.

  12. My minivan is not that old, 2.5 years, but I am ready to not be driving it anymore. I didn’t realize that it is lower to the ground in the front than my previous (same model). I am so tired of scraping on every curb/parking stop/etc. I also don’t like the center console. The space between it and the seat is a magnet for everything to fall into and you can’t get your hand down there. I am on my third try at the pouches or “pillows” that block that crevice, but none have worked well yet.

    I will keep it until DD#2 is in college as we use it for scouts and it does hold all the camping/sailing/cookie sales stuff we cart around regularly. I don’t like the CRV, but loved my old Subaru. Thinking of going back to it if Honda doesn’t have something I like at the time.

    DD#1 likes the 2005 Camry she drives (was my parents). Has about 50K miles, but it wasn’t driven enough, so when we got it, it needed about $4K in repairs. Needs a new water pump soon, but then should go for quite some time with only routine maintenance. DD#2 can’t wait until she is 15 to start drivers ed. Next car will likely be one for her.

  13. But the car has everything else and is wayyyyy cheaper than the IS 250.

    The IS 250 starts at 37k the ILX starts at 27k. It’s exactly what you’re looking for. It’s based on the same platform as the Civic it’s just smoother, quieter, higher quality interior and it has more features. And, as it doesn’t sell as well, you can get a better deal on it than a Civic.

  14. The thing that’s turned me away from Acura right now is the requirement* for high-octane fuel. In the years since I’ve bought my Acura, the cost premium has increased dramatically in percentage terms. It can be 70 or 80 cents per gallon now.

    *Yes, I know modern engines can detect knocking and adjust to regular fuel, but then you lose both efficiency and performance.

  15. On insurance, I doubt that there’s much difference between them. But all of them have an incentive to increase prices significantly over time, since people have search/transaction costs that lead to inertia. People tend to stick around, so firm will try to stick it to consumers, exploring the consumers’ higher willingnesses to pay. Punch line: shop around every year or two. (Think also about the popular insurance ads: those who switch save $X or Z%. Right. That’s why they switched; only those who save *will* switch. And switching often is worth it, given what I wrote above.)

    On financing a car vs. price, etc., remember that the “price” is a combination of both. So, if a firm offers you a low interest rate or a high trade-in value, then they’re not going to negotiate as much on price. People imagine that they’re getting some sort of deal when they get a premium on a trade-in or a relatively low interest rate, not catching that they ended up with a higher price than they could have otherwise paid.

  16. *Yes, I know modern engines can detect knocking and adjust to regular fuel, but then you lose both efficiency and performance.

    The same is true if non premium fuel is the requirement. Premium fuel is due to a high compression ratio. If you have a low compression ratio and as a result premium isn’t required, you have worse power and efficiency all the time.

  17. .everyone keeps telling me to join the 21st century but I have a large CD collection.

    Start ripping them to mp3s and copy them to your phone.

  18. Rhett – The problem is that the compression ratio doesn’t change. The computer may adjust other things to prevent knocking, but then it’s operating with less-than-optimal parameters. I wouldn’t buy a car for 10 or 15 years planning to disregard the manual on what type of fuel to use.

  19. Milo,

    The Honda tuned V6 is 278 bhp the Acura tuned V6 is 290 bhp. If you run the Acura V6 on regular you get the performance of the Honda engine.

    Wondering about the long-term effects of switching to regular fuel? Here’s what we know: In conversations with manufacturers, never was there a connection made with using premium fuel for reliability reasons. The manufacturers only talk about higher octane in terms of performance.

    What’s more, in the Acura owner’s manual, Acura only recommends using “top-tier detergent gasoline”—which can be of any octane grade, regular or premium—for performance and reliability reasons. But there is nothing in the manual that equates premium gas with improved reliability.

  20. I usually tune out these car discussions, but I’ll be in the market for my son who will get his license soon. Is the Civic considered very safe for teen drivers?

  21. Is the Civic considered very safe for teen drivers?

    Not as safe as the Corolla as the Civic doesn’t offer autonomous emergency braking standard.

  22. Rhett beat me to it, but definitely get the package with the advanced safety features. Last time I looked into it, it was available on all Civic models.

    Rhett mentioned the Mazda3 as an alternative. DW had one as a rental recently and really liked it, but I don’t think it has the same safety package available as the Civic (IIRC, missing the automated braking at highway speed).

    In any case, look into the advanced safety features. I recommend not getting a car that doesn’t have the full complement.

  23. I’m getting the Honda sensing….it’ll make my dad feel better. Also, I’m not sure if I told anyone but I was hit twice recently and I’ve become somewhat chicken on the road. LA drivers being who they are.

    Also unrelated- I Just got my Hamilton tickets!

  24. Start ripping them to mp3s and copy them to your phone.

    And store them in the cloud, too, like on Dropbox. That way when you lose your phone or your computer’s hard drive goes, you can easily download them again.

  25. Interesting. They’ve moved beyond autonomous emergency braking to steering assisted crash avoidance coupled with autonomous emergency braking:

  26. Woot woot on the Hamilton tickets!

    You’re going to need to move your music to digital eventually. One advantage is that you can easily keep a backup, in case the file gets corrupted. Once a CD is scratched, it’s done.

    Sounds like you’ve already chosen your car. Go for it! Just don’t negotiate like I did: I was so unimpressed with what I was driving that I must’ve undervalued it; the dealership sent me a check for several hundred dollars a few weeks later. I assume the Cruiser had just been sold at auction.

  27. Lagirl – when are you going to Hamilton? we got Hamilton tickets for August in Chicago! I’m so excited. We were able to get amazing seats because we’re going on a Wednesday. I’m claiming it is to celebrate milestone birthday and anniversary. Now I need Chicago hotel and restaurant recommendations.

    Super embarrassing question bexcuse I should know. How do you rip CDs to mp3s? Do you need special software? And then if you have it on your phone and play it in the car, does that use your data? How much music can you store on your phone?

  28. TCmama — the software you need will be the music player that came with your computer. if you have a Windows computer, you can rip CDs using Windows Media Player. If you have a Mac, you rip them in Itunes. Both allow you to choose what format to output to.

    If your mp3s are stored on your phone, either in your phones own memory or an SD card in your phone, playing them will not use data because your phone does not need to connect to the internet to access them; they’re right there in the phone’s memory and will play even if you turn off data and wifi.

    If your mp3s are stored in the cloud, such as in Apple’s cloud service, Amazon Music, Google Drive, or some such, then streaming them from the cloud to your phone will use data / wifi.

    So, you could just keep mp3s on your phone and also back them up to the cloud as a just-in-case, in which case playing from your phone in the car will not use data. (Or not back them up, and chance ’em.) Or you could keep them in the cloud as your main storage place and stream from the cloud, in which case you can play them from anywhere you have internet without needing to transfer files around, but you will use data / internet when you play them.

  29. How much music can you store on your phone?

    128GB* is about 18,000 songs and you wouldn’t be using your data.

    * The amount of available memory varies by phone.

  30. Thanks for your explanation, HM. I burn CDs on my Windows laptop using iTunes. I’m still stuck and have not consolidated all my music in one organized spot. I hate iTunes, and have been copying some music onto Amazon to listen from there. But it’s all very tedious and I’m sure there’s a better way.

    Somehow our car seems to have downloaded both DH’s and my phone music library, so I’ll hear his tunes come on very loudly sometimes when I start up the car. Honestly, I’m a bit confused how all this works. I’m almost here:
    The hilarious blunders that prove grandparents and technology DON’T mix – from using an iPad as a chopping board to watching TV with binoculars

  31. Thanks HM! DH still buys CDs for every orchestra concert we go to. I should figure out how to catalogue them.

  32. .So, you could just keep mp3s on your phone and also back them up to the cloud as a just-in-case

    They will be stored on your computer after you rip them, so no need to backup to the cloud because you’ll have the backups there.

  33. I wasn’t sure if cars still came with CD players. I honestly couldn’t tell you if our 2016 car has one. I’ll have to check next time I drive it.

    I used the email non-negotiation (Consumer Reports version) method of buying my last car. It was easier than expected.

  34. So, you could just keep mp3s on your phone and also back them up to the cloud as a just-in-case

    I always assumed everyone already backed up their phones to the cloud. If you don’t, what do you do when you get a new one?

  35. “I always assumed everyone already backed up their phones to the cloud. If you don’t, what do you do when you get a new one?”

    AFAIK iTunes music is not part of iCloud, which does not make sense at all. So iirc I just transferred my music from the old phone to the new one when I did the initial set up. I may be totally wrong, though . . .

  36. Rhett, transfer straight from one phone to another.

    tcmama, as long as you have an input jack in the car, you can plug a cable into the headphones spot on your phone.

  37. “DH still buys CDs for every orchestra concert we go to. I should figure out how to catalogue them.”

    Does he buy the CDs at the concerts so he can get the soloists to autograph them?

  38. @LAGirl: First, Civics are a dime a dozen. If they don’t negotiate, go to another dealer. Heck, go to another dealer just to make a point of walking out and letting them call you back — they are going to pull stupid negotiating crap on you, might as well preemptively return the favor. :-)

    Second: looks like Honda now has 0.9% financing on many models and 1.9% financing on others. Go to your bank/credit union and get a firm financing offer in hand. Like folks above have said, the key is the total cost to you; sometimes you get a “cheap financing or $XX cash back” incentive going, in which case you should do the math on which one is best for you.

    Third, before you talk trade-in, take your car to Carmax for a quote. Those are usually good for a week. This will give you a second opinion on the car value — plus, when dealers know you have a Carmax price, they will usually honor it.

    Fourth, negotiate price before you negotiate trade-in or financing. I usually start off by saying “I can write you a check or finance with you, or trade-in or sell on my own, whichever gets me the best deal.” And then I talk price and don’t go back to any of those other things. Don’t get lured by “your payment will ‘only’ be . . . .” — you need to talk cash on the barrelhead, not string out a higher price over more months to get a lower payment. Then at the end you can ask if they will reduce further for financing/cash/etc. and move on to your trade-in value. (Note: especially important if you have a Carmax quote for more than the dealer’s offer — don’t play that card until they have committed on price, because otherwise they will just offer to match but then increase the cost of the new car.).

    Finally, there might be some year-end models around with great deals — once the new cars start coming out, they usually start cutting prices on the old ones. I don’t know when Honda runs model year, but if you can be patient and look for the “leftovers,” it can save you significant $$. On the flip side, if you are buying near the end of the model year, demand a significant discount, because your car is already basically a year old.

    Insurance: ask around. Do you have other insurance you can bundle? We have been with SF for decades, because they give good discounts for bundling all of our insurance with them and offer good-driver discounts to boot, so except when we were living out west, the total cost for SF to do it all was cheaper than carving out different policies to different people.

    I am currently looking at a car myself, so am starting all of the research, trade-in value, emails/calls with dealers, etc. And it reminds me just exactly how much fun this is! I wish I were in LA to help!!! :-)

  39. LFB: wow that is all good info! This is not fun for me at all! I’ve never done it so i’m terrified of doing it wrong. I liked the way the new CIvics looked and then my friend bought an accord and mentioned all of the features and then I did the math and realized I didn’t want to spend lexus prices. and then since my car accidents i’ve become attached to the idea of a safe/reliable car.

    I have allstate right now and the price they quoted me seemed high even with the condo/earthquake policy discounts. and i wasn’t thrilled with their customer service during the last accident.

  40. Also honda told me they’d only give me $500 for my corolla so i’ll either do carmax or donate it.

  41. lagirl, can you look up Costco’s negotiated price for the Honda Civic you want as a baseline? When we bought our Honda Odyssey, there were only a few in the Pacific Northwest and we were on deadline (Baby WCE was coming soon and would need her own seat) so we shopped and chose our trim package the day before Thanksgiving and picked up our minivan (in MIL’s town where they one was actually available) the day after Thanksgiving. We got $200 off a $400 accessories purchase for filling out a Costco survey. (We got the trunk liner and fitted seat covers.) The price was “typical” for an Odyssey according to the Internet, but we had no desire to drive all over the Pacific Northwest or wait for weeks over $300.

  42. Thanks, Rhett! I was unaware of those Apple storage options. Interesting and good to know. It would cost $24.99/year to store my music and I don’t think it’s worth it. Plus, I want to get away from iTunes services since I dislike them.

  43. The premium gas that is recommend for the Acura drives me nuts because it is always 80 – 90 cents more per gallon vs. regular gas. My husband thinks premium is better for the car, so he is willing to pay for it. I sort of agree for the Acura since we own it. I only use regular gas in the BMW since it is a lease, and BMW also recommends premium gas. I do not get the mileage in the BMW that I am supposed to get according to the manufacturer. I think it is because of the gas because when my husband fills the car – he does use premium and I get slightly better mileage. We like both of these cars, and we would be happy to replace both cars with the newer models when it is time in 2018 and 2019. I think my husband may want to hang to the Acura for the long haul instead of getting a new one, but it depends how expensive the repairs begin to get on this car.

  44. “there might be some year-end models around with great deals — once the new cars start coming out, they usually start cutting prices on the old ones.”

    I think it’s a bit early for this now.

    Since you seem set on the Civic and the Honda Sensing™ option (which I suggest is an absolute must-get), and that’s only available for some Civic models (unfortunately, it appears not to be available with the 6-speed trans), I suggest you check around local dealers to see whether most of the Civics they have in their lot have this feature.

    If most of them do, then you could do well waiting for the model year end, especially if you’re not picky about colors and the other option packages.

    But if most of the Civics on the lots don’t have Honda Sensing™, then IMO you shouldn’t wait for the model year end. You will likely need to order a car with that option, which also means you get to pick exactly what you want in terms of colors and other options.

  45. LfB, do you like shopping/negotiating in general, or just cars? Or just big ticket items?

  46. Lauren, have you crunched the numbers ($/mile) on how much the extra gas you use with lower mpg costs vs the higher price for premium gas?

  47. Actually, you might not need to order a car, especially if you’re not in a rush. A buying service could probably find a car with the features you want, although not necessarily the exact color or options you prefer.

  48. LfB – Diff’rent strokes. I save money in time-consuming ways that give me pleasure, too, just not that one.

    I got the Dream on Me Coupe Booster and it fits, barely, into the back seat with the car seats. I am going to leave that and the biggest car seat in there all the time, and pop in the second car seat if I know I have to cart all three (which may end up being every Thursday).

    My deluxe audio system has a CD slot. I didn’t notice until I read the manual. I ripped all the CDs in the house to full data format for Sonos – you can’t use that for smartphones, but I can keep a selection of cd’s in the car without worrying about warping or dust. Ripping them to mp3 and putting them on the phone is a good solution.

    I am so happy that I decided to go back up in the air with the RAV4. I didn’t realize how much more confidence it gives me as a driver – I was in a Jetta for 10 and Corolla/Camry for 13 years. I may not need to turn in my keys early after all.

    DH liked the Miata. He is going to take his son with him to make the purchase decision. No rush.

  49. It has to be red. I’ll compromise on the lack of a CD player and having to use spotify and trying to figure out how to burn my music to digital files (this is almost beyond my tech capabilities) but it has to be red. I’ve decided on the EXT-the next model up has everything leather and I’m not a fan of leather. I get truecar through work and they gave me a price of $21663 but i want to add the automatic dimming lights. So if I can get the 0.9% APR with a 6 year term i can have payments under $300. I would then just pay cash the difference over the car price.

    Does that sound right?

  50. LA Girl, I have a lot of music that I’ve converted to MP3 files but our kids convinced us to get Spotify premium family plan. 6 individual user accounts for $15 a month. Less than $3 pp. The kids pay us a year in advance for their accounts. Virtually anything you want (with the exception of a few artists who don’t participate in any music streaming programs) is on Spotify, including Broadway soundtracks like Hamilton. I love it. You can keep music in the cloud or download it to your phone so that you’re not using data.

  51. trying to figure out how to burn my music to digital files (this is almost beyond my tech capabilities)

    It really isn’t. I promise you. If you can post to a WordPress blog, you can rip your CDs and put them on a flash drive.

  52. “I am so happy that I decided to go back up in the air with the RAV4. I didn’t realize how much more confidence it gives me as a driver”

    Well, now that everyone else has one, yeah. Do drivers in those big boulders ever think of how rude it is to pull up the extra foot to have bumpers even with someone else and completely cut off the other person’s view? It can be stupidly dangerous, say when both are making a left turn out of a driveway, little car first, and behemoth pulls into median before there’s been a chance for the car to pull out. Keeping to the right makes it seem like you aren’t cutting in line, but the way many drivers inch forward means drivers in cars have to pull into the traffic lane just to be able to see what’s coming/if it’s safe to go. Jack a$$€$.

  53. Finn – not sure if you are joking, but my DH would never ask anyone for their autograph. We started getting the music of the concert we were going to in order to know the music better, similar to me having the Hamilton soundtrack. I don’t have much music knowledge or ability. I can’t clap to a beat to save my life. Going to the orchestra is one of DH’s favorite things to do. I have grown to like it. We’ve been going for years. I used to fall asleep right away but now that we get the music in advance it helps a lot. It makes the concerts much more enjoyable for me. I’ve even pre-set classical music on my car radio. I still can’t clap to the beat though.

  54. I wasn’t sure if cars still came with CD players. I honestly couldn’t tell you if our 2016 car has one. I’ll have to check next time I drive it.

    Our 2017 Outback has one.

  55. S &M, I have thought about calculating it, but I would rather just keep buying regular gas. Also, I don’t think it is a large difference. My husband thinks the Acura runs better with the premium gas, so that is something that I can’t calculate because I don’t notice the difference when I’ve filled it with regular.

  56. I hope to not buy another car until my older DS is a driver (four more years). Lately I have loved the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Nissan Altima (my last two rental cars). I liked the Ford Fusion a lot more than the Prius – much less road noise. However, I think that the Nissan is probably a better deal overall. On the insurance front, we have used USAA forever and finally repriced all of our policies this year and switched. We are saving over $1,000 per year for home, auto and umbrella. USAA stopped underwriting a lot of policies we needed and weren’t offering competitive pricing on loans. Their customer service when you have a claim is great though. I hope that our new company is also good (Nationwide).

  57. What kind of bump can I expect in insurance premiums once I have a teenage boy driving?

  58. tcmama– that was a sort of serious question.

    At most of the local symphony concerts that feature a soloist, the typical program is a short piece by the orchestra, e.g., an overture, followed by the concerto, then intermission. After the intermission, the orchestra will typically play a full symphony.

    Very often during intermission, the soloist comes into the concert hall lobby for a meet and greet, signing autographs and posing for photos. Copies of the soloist’s CDs will be for sale then, as well as before the concert starts, and many people buy CDs then so they can get them autographed.

    Like you, if I’m going to a concert that features pieces with which I’m not familiar, I’ll try to listen to those pieces beforehand, but I often just look for YouTube videos and listen at my desk.

    OTOH, our symphony plays a lot of pretty standard repertoire, and we tend to prioritize concerts that feature our favorites. What stretches us is the pieces we’re not familiar with that are on the programs with our favorites, and when a notable soloist plays something with which we’re not familiar.

  59. tcm, I’ve also found that a cup of coffee beforehand helps me enjoy the concerts more.

  60. “I still can’t clap to the beat though.”

    That’s OK, it’s usually not done at symphony concerts anyway.

  61. What kind of bump can I expect in insurance premiums once I have a teenage boy driving?

    1) when just a casual driver (e.g. your have 2 parents as primary drivers, DS as casual operator), I think our bump was ~$1000/yr
    2) if he’s going to have a car, even a beater with no collision/comprehensive on it, maybe 50% more.

    Highly variable. There is a discount if you can produce a report card with a 3.0 on it for the good student discount.

  62. “There is a discount if you can produce a report card with a 3.0 on it for the good student discount.”

  63. I was with three people that today that recently insured their high school juniors/seniors and they were complaining about the rates for boys. Insurance rates seem to vary widely by location too.
    My friends pay 1200-1500 for girls that drive their own cars. The rates for the boys are 2000-2500.
    One friend said that her son doesn’t have his own car, and they listed him as a casual operator. They were paying $1200 for that rate, but he got into an accident with another car. She is having a VERY hard time finding any insurance from a regular insurance company. They decided that he could just wait the year until the accident comes off the report, and he is using Uber to get around.

  64. Like Meme, I like vehicles with clearance. The streets flood regularly here and it helps to have an SUV.

  65. @CoC – so I actually hate conflict and hate negotiation for that reason. But apparently there is a sweet spot that involves negotiations (1) against people who are generally known to be assholes/working it, (2) on something that saves real money, and (3) in which I have no emotional investment whatsoever. So helping other people buy cars is like a sweet spot. Although I am also back-seat-driving our new office lease negotiations, because I am fine with moving, so if the landlord doesn’t meet my terms, well, no skin off my nose.

    I am more disinclined to enjoy it when I am emotionally attached, like my previous car purchase. But if I don’t really feel strongly, then either I get an awesome deal (save money = win), or I don’t buy the car (save even more money = even bigger win). So, you know, it’s all good.

    Now actually writing the check — that makes me throw up.

  66. Ps – LAGirl – I would not do a 6-year loan if you can possibly afford it. The less you put down and the longer the loan term, the more likely you are to be upside down in the car, which is not a good place to be. Also, FYI, the loan rates tend to go up with length — I wouldn’t be surprised to see that the 0.9% is only good for say a 3-year term.

    OTOH, if you can get 6 years at 0.9%, well, hell, that’s an awesome rate, so maybe I take back my first comment.

  67. DD#1 passed her driving test a couple of months before turning 17. Our insurance went up about 60% to add her. If you have them on your policy they are covered on ALL vehicles in the household. You cannot exclude one driver from a vehicle unless it requires a different type of license to drive it. Apparently, they must assume that you will only drive a vehicle for which you have an appropriate license.

    S&M – I have a minivan and some of the bigger pickups make it hard for me to see, which is why I really don’t want to go back to a sedan. The trend here is to stripe parking spaces as narrow as possible and have more “compact” parking to get the required number of parking spaces in the smallest lot possible. The recent trend is to restripe roads to have the narrowest lanes possible as well. These two trends are pushing me toward getting rid of my minivan as soon as I no longer need it.

  68. AustinMom – I think certain insurance companies will let you insure a kid on only the vehicle they drive. AAA comes to mind – someone at work told me his daughter is insured only on her vehicle through them. I called my broker to ask, and we can’t do that with the company we’re with — and ours offers a great discount for bundling, plus some other alumni discounts — so we stayed put. Ours not only insures the kids on all vehicles, but rates them according to the most expensive one — even though they never drive it. Total drag, premium wise, but still better than what AAA could offer for home/cars/cottage.

    Meanwhile, my son is now the cheapest kid we insure, as he’s been driving the longest and has no accidents or tickets. He actually has his own policy with a different company for his car, but we’re leaving him on ours so we can list him as a primary and bump the youngers down to secondary, which saves us money.
    We also are keeping him on so he can be covered under our umbrella.

    Folks with youngers not quite of driving age might want to look into umbrella coverage now. My understanding is that it’s more expensive once your kids are driving. I haven’t priced it so don’t know for certain — I took the “get it early” advice and got it back when they were quite young.

  69. Umbrella insurance – we got it when we put the big swingset/fort/climbing wall/slide/firepole monstrosity in our yard (no fences between us and any adjoining properties, so easy access for pretty much every neighborhood kid anytime). Our kids were probably 8,6,3. $150/yr for $1million coverage. I upped it to $2M when the oldest started to drive; price did not double. Now with 5 cars and 5 drivers we’re still at $2M but the cost did increase quite a bit ~50% this year. Still cheap peace of mind.

  70. Fred – ITA re: cheap peace of mind. Ours is less than $250 for $2M coverage. One of the easiest checks I write each year.

  71. Risley – Also varies from state to state as to some of the flexibilty. We changed policies when DD#1 became a licensed driver. We also did the umbrella at that time. And, bundling helps us quite a bit as well.

    Those with college age kids – (1) if they are driving (took a car) in a higher cost or lower cost area than your primary residence did it change your insurance rate? (2) Texas exempts non-resident, full-time students from registering their car. Is that fairly standard?

  72. Austin – I’m no help on that last Q as DS bought his vehicle in the state where he attends college, and registered it there, and got a separate insurance policy for it. He’ll use that company for renter’s insurance, too. We have him listed on our auto policy still, but not his vehicle.

  73. “can’t clap to the beat”

    I am so curious about this. What happens if you try to clap to the beat? Do you hit on random beats or on random times? How about if you listen to “We Will Rock You” – can you clap to that beat? I think beat deafness is a type of amusia but I also thought it was very rare.

  74. Do you hit on random beats or on random times?

    Yes. This is about the only song where I can keep the beat:

  75. L – this shows you how much I know – what is the difference between random beats and random times? The best I can explain it is that I can hear the beat, and I can clap along for a little bit if I completely focus on trying to clap to the beat. So if I’m in the car listening to the radio, I will try occasionally to clap along but I’m not listening to the words. I’m listening to the beat and then counting in my head 1-2-3-clap or whatever but it feels like I’m guessing even then. And then eventually I start to miss the beat so I would say I’m clapping on random beats and at random times!

    I was an assistant coach for a while and the other coaches couldn’t stand next to me when we would do the introduction cheers/clapping because I’d throw them off. It became a running joke. Half the time I would fake clap or not clap at all. I’d get stressed out! The hardest cheers are where the clapping gets faster and faster. I have no chance at those unless I’m really focused and even then it is very hard.

    It’s not that I didn’t have exposure to music growing up. My mom made me take piano from 2nd-6th grade. I think I’m mostly tone deaf or something. I remember one practice I was so proud that I had practiced a piece and knew it. I played it for my teacher and proudly turned to her after I was done. She was glaring and nearly shouted, “Is that a joke? You were off one key the entire time!” I was probably in 4th grade and knew that piano wasn’t going to be my thing.

    But then I decided – why?! – to play percussion in middle school band. Why did my parents let me do this? I was such a totebaggy kid and thought I had to do something. For one of the periods our choices were band, orchestra, choir, or study hall. I thought I’d be failing or not get into college or something if I took study hall. I should have taken study hall. I knew I couldn’t do choir. I have the same singing voice as my sister who when she was in elementary school was told to lip sync in the church choir because she was so bad. So I did drums in middle school and got a C. I probably only got a passing grade because I tried.

    I posted on here before how my DH and I spent a Friday night drinking wine and watching YouTube videos while I tried to find the downbeat in the songs. DH is flabbergasted that I mostly can’t find it and that I played drums in band. When we go to the orchestra, I elbow my DH every time the timpani is played and say “I could do that” and he says back “No, you couldn’t”.

    Long post but it reminds me how there are some things I just get like Excel and basic corporate finance math that others don’t get even when they’ve been exposed to it and have it explained to them multiple times. Some things just never click. It gives me more empathy and reminds me to not expect that everyone can just do something if they tried harder. I don’t think my musical abilities can be fixed by trying harder. I pretty much have the skillset that I have. I could eke out a little bit more, but I’m old enough to accept my musical limitations and appreciate others who have musical abilities.

    Whenever someone asks what you’d like your superpower to be, I say singing and dancing so that I can be in a Broadway musical. The fact that people can sing (I have no idea what singing in a different key means/is), play instruments, and dance are all magical, mysterious things to me.

  76. @SM — Probably yes, but eventually. We have more time than I thought to figure that out, because her learners requires her to drive with us for the next @9 mos., so we couldn’t even use an extra car until she gets her full license (around November). I continue to be torn between wanting her to have the crash-avoidance features and not wanting her to F up a totally spiffy nice shiny new car. So for the time being, she is driving mine — and mine has the snow tires already and so is well set to take us through next winter. So maybe in a year or so, when she has the full license and can drive without grownups, and is driving on the highway frequently and driving DS around, we will probably upgrade her to a newer car with the active accident avoidance features. And maybe by then we’ll be able to get a 1- or 2-year old model coming off a lease or something — we looked at the car show this year, and the number of manufacturers that are offering it in their lower-end vehicles is growing very, very quickly, so even a year from now we may have a lot more choices in “lightly used” models than we do today.

    I really like the Subarus — I think the Crosstrek is something we could get her and that would basically take her through college and grad school/first job without having to worry about it, and she could do like I did and throw everything she owns in the back. But it’s a little larger and a little more expensive, too.

    But, yeah, that will be a fun negotiation, because there are so many options, and I am really not invested in a specific car — just want the best deal!

  77. For those who can’t find a beat, ever…I’m wondering how that works when they are forced into a drill and ceremony/marching situation:

    I remember learning that your left foot hits the ground on the main beat (watch the color guard in the video). Nobody ever explained what the main beat was or how to detect it, you just did it. But they obviously would have people like TCMama, and those must compensate for it somehow, probably with some quick shuffling and just glancing at everyone else in your peripheral vision.

  78. Milo – that makes me sweat just watching it. We did marching band practice in middle school band. It was so difficult for me. And then to have all those people watching you. There is no way!

  79. :)

    That particular group is selected for their natural talent toward the art (along with height and other characteristics). But it wasn’t until this conversation that I realized how a tendency to quickly pick up a beat and orient one’s body and motions and rhythm to it could be such a variable skill. If you were to only listen to drill instructors, you would think it’s something that people can just will themselves to do, if only they were more “disciplined” or focused.

  80. I dated a guy for a little while who said he couldn’t keep a beat. He was trying to learn banjo, so wanted to learn some rhythm. We signed up for dance class. The first one was simple stuff. I already knew it from social dance as a kid, but there was just one or maybe two steps that were demonstrated, explained, walked through slowly, and practiced. He kept up ok during that, laughed at himself when he goofed up. Then came music, not too fast or loud. Most people perked up and felt where the step should go, so it got easier. Not this guy. He couldn’t get it. He started doing 100 mincing little steps. I’m not sure how much was nerves and how much was voluntary movement. Looking back I can laugh, but he was really red in the face and SO frustrated. I’ve never met anyone else like that. Until now.

    “that will be a fun negotiation, because there are so many options, and I am really not invested in a specific car — just want the best deal!”
    The fun for a spectator would be that it’s nbd to you, but will probably be a HUGE deal to your daughter, especially if you turn and walk out of a showroom on the car she waaaaaaants.

  81. @SM: You are assuming I am giving her a choice/involving her in the process/letting her know ahead of time. :-) IMO, when you are 17 and your parents are offering you A Brand New Car!!(tm), the only appropriate response is to squeal/shriek with pleasure. I do not plan to give her the opportunity to be disappointed.

  82. I like to buy cars nearly as much as LfB, not joking. We took my DS with us when we were buying his used car. He listened in on our strategy sessions in the car lot, and knew our bottom line target. He also understood when we were walking out that it didn’t mean the dream was gone. I think it was a really good learning opportunity for him. It may help that I came off looking like a genius because our game plan worked perfectly. I often negotiate in my job and enjoy getting to do it for my own benefit.

  83. LfB, your reluctance to buy a new car for your DD reminds me of my reluctance to pay full fare for DS to go to a HSS, but at one order of magnitude lower.

  84. @Finn — Yeah. Part of it is “car still works fine.” A bigger part is “no HS kid needs to be given a Brand New Car!!(tm)” And part of it is that I just assume a kid is going to ding and dent whatever she drives, and I know exactly how angry I will be if she does that to a new car — whereas the concept of “accident avoided” is very theoretical and doesn’t seem as real to me, because it is new tech and not part of my experience. So intellectually, I can recognize “new car” as the better decision given the higher value of keeping her safe and the fact that we can afford it; but I still don’t “feel” it given how I was raised. Ergo my compromise (a/k/a postponing the decision point as long as possible). :-)

    Plus I got really depressed/pissed at the thought of springing for a new car for my kid and thus leaving myself stuck with my old one. But we may be fixing that sooner rather than later: DH sees “her car” and “my car” as completely unrelated issues and is just inclined to buy two and call it good — to the point that he is actively looking for cars for me and leaving options pulled up on the computer for me to look at. So we’ll see.

  85. LfB, yeah, it’s a real pardigm shift.

    Unfortunately for us, it’s looking like full pay, which probably means no new car, at least for a while.

    You could buy a new car now, and have nearly a year or so on it before your DD can drive it on her own.

  86. C’mon, Finn, give us a hint as to where your DS is going such that you’re coughing up the full tuition.

  87. “The recent trend is to restripe roads to have the narrowest lanes possible as well.”

    They’ve done that here too, and IMO it was one of the better ideas and implementations from our DOT.

    It’s kept traffic moving, albeit slowly, during times when it would have previously become stop and go. When traffic is flowing, it seems to limit how fast most people drive, which used to be well over the speed limit.

  88. RMS, we don’t know, and won’t have all the inputs necessary for a decision prior to March 31, when the last of the decisions is expected.

  89. “You could buy a new car now, and have nearly a year or so on it before your DD can drive it on her own.”


    Not the cars I’m looking at. 😉 For her, I want smaller and lower hp (she struggles to manage the 250+ hp in the TL). Is why I like the Crosstrek – Edmunds’ two complaints were that it was underpowered and had a crappy sound system, which strikes me as *exactly* what I want for a teen driver. 👍

    Mine, OTOH, would be going in precisely the opposite direction. . . .

  90. RMS, unlikely. It is not consistent with many of DS’ non-academic criteria, most of which his safety meet.

  91. She struggles to manage the 250+ hp in the TL

    Does this mean she drives too fast? If you really want this car to last her~8-10 years, don’t make it too underpowered. She may not need the power in her daily life now, but who knows where she’ll go to grad school.

    I never really liked the Cruiser, but what made me trade it in was a brief stretch of interstate that became part of my daily routine. I got tired of getting to the end of (shortish) the on ramp and having the beejeezus scared out of me. DS (sitting in back, where a car rear-ending is would hit him first) said the engine revving sounded like Lightening McQueen. That was four years ago and although he is no longer scared of that noise, he clearly remembers that fear. Might have been picking it up from mama, as I looked at the rear view as much as the road in front of us while flooring the gas.

  92. This is where I channel MMM. There is no such thing as an underpowered car in 2017 (new, stock, commercially available). There just isn’t. A Toyota Yaris can go from 0-60 in about 8 or 9 seconds.

    I spent a lot of time in high school (after my brother stole my CRX and took it to college) driving a Subaru with a 90-hp engine and a 0-60 time of around 14 seconds.

  93. Milo, how often did you travel on busy stretches of interstate with that car? My Cruiser supposedly went 0 to 60 in 7 seconds. It was a mild annoyance most of the time, but on that stretch of road, at the time of day we were on it, I truly do not think it was safe.

  94. “Milo, how often did you travel on busy stretches of interstate with that car?”

    Daily. That’s how I got to school.

    It was also the first car I drove out of the DMV with my learner’s, and my Dad said “let’s take a run over to… Just take 495.”

    I agree that the PT Cruiser was not a great car, and I agree that it could certainly be loud under heavy acceleration. The only reason Chrysler built it was to manipulate their CAFE numbers. It was technically a light truck, so it improved the average fuel economy of their trucks overall. They sold a lot of them to rental companies, which is how I had occasion to drive one for a few days around Jacksonville, FL.

  95. @SM – no, it’s that she is too binary with the on/off, and she can’t maintain her speed appropriately. Some of it is practice, but some of it is harder than necessary because the car lags-then-jumps-forward when you put your foot down.

    I get the “underpowered” issue — I went to school in Austin and clearly remember getting hung out to dry at the end of an entrance ramp onto the walled highway when the Caddy in front of me decided to stop at the last second – he had like a gazillion hp and was able to re-start and merge just fine, while my little Rabbit diesel almost got creamed by the oncoming truck. (As an aside, did you know Rabbit diesels can accelerate much more quickly than you might expect when imminent death looms?).

    But I agree with Milo on this. The cars we are looking at would have maybe 125-150hp, which is more than I had until I was maybe 30 😉 — and really is more than sufficient to manage the freeway entrances around here safely. I think it is more of a safety concern for her to have too much hp before she is 100% comfortable controlling it, because the car just reacts much more quickly than you are prepared for. There is also something to be said for lighter-weight finishes that make it very obvious once you pass around 70 or so on the highway — even with an almost-9-yr-old TL, I still frequently hit 80 before I have even realized it. Which, again, fine for me, not so awesome for new driver.

  96. Underpowered cars are dangerous. You might not be able to merge onto the highway quickly enough, or speed up to get out of a dangerous near-miss.

  97. What? Research? Actually look things up? Lol. I see that at 160, the Trecker has more hp than the car I got when I traded in the Cruiser.

  98. Is it weird that I want to get DS his own car even though we probably don’t need a third car for him, because I don’t like the idea of him rolling up to school in my fancy sports car? I feel like he should have a sensible, safe for teens car like a Corolla…

  99. @Mafalda — not weird at all. I am certainly not letting DD roll anywhere in my Mustang.

  100. Mafalda, that makes total sense, especially if you get him a car with all the latest safety features, like what LAGirl is planning to buy.

  101. Didn’t the PT Cruiser start a short-lived trend that also spawned the Chevy HHR?

    I also had a PT Cruiser as a rental once, and liked its ability to hold a lot of luggage for a car in its class. I knew someone who owned one and similarly loved its capacity, as well as its versatility.

    While the PT Cruiser and HHR seem to have been the beginning and end of that sort of retro-look trend, did they also, in a way, lead to the more modern looking, but similarly configurable, cars like the xB and Soul?

  102. “liked its ability to hold a lot of luggage for a car in its class”

    Bull butter. Its “class,” was light truck, and as such, it had a comparatively small cargo capacity, in both volume and payload.

  103. I regularly have to accelerate uphill for the highway merge. I found the base Corolla engine under powered for my circumstances, but adequate as a rental..

  104. “Bull butter. Its “class,” was light truck’

    I meant its class a rental car sense. IIRC, it was considered a compact car, and its luggage capacity was more than most other cars in that class (in a rental car sense of class).

    It definitely was not considered a light truck by the rental car company from which I rented it.

  105. SM, did your Cruiser have an automatic transmission?

    I’m wondering if you could’ve mitigated the problem by manually downshifting prior to merging, and not upshifting until your merging maneuver was complete.

  106. Finn, it was an automatic. I did sometimes put it into lower gear, but then of course the engine revs were crazy high–didn’t want to do it too long.

    Saac says he wants a Camero.

  107. “I did sometimes put it into lower gear, but then of course the engine revs were crazy high–didn’t want to do it too long.”

    Just long enough to complete the merge.

  108. Every automatic I’ve driven could downshift as necessary for higher torque and would take each gear to redline if the accelerator was floored.

  109. I doubt the PT Cruiser came in manual. How many american cars are manuals? I would think it would be near zero. Porsche even has a few models that only have stick as a special order (a travesty for that brand IMO).

    My first car was a 4-speed with a small engine. We called it the sewing machine. Plus it was a convertible – drove it just fine on highways to and from university and all around Miami, home of many aggressive drivers. Never even noticed the road noise but I wasn’t trying to talk on bluetooth and I could always here my music (cassette).

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