Yesterday morning I took a good, long look at my `06 Ford Explorer.

That night I traded it in.

With gas prices creeping closer to the unthinkable $4 per gallon price range, I decided that it was no longer practical to drive a vehicle that gets less than 13 miles per gallon and, for the most part, transports one person (me) most of the time. Even with my minimal driving, thanks in part to taking the MTA trains to work, I would go through half a tank per week. It would cost me more than $40 to fill it up every week with the tank half-full. Needless to say, that gets old really quick.

So I went online and began researching cars–used cars. I didn’t want to get caught in the payment trap again since we’re doing our best to stay out of serious debt. And with my job situation being what it is, financing would not be an option.

We made the decision to go to the local Carmax to see what they had in stock rather than what we saw online. One car in particular caught my eye not only because of the price, but I know a few people that own one and love them.

By the time we left, I was the owner of a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. Low miles, mechanically sound, and not quite an SUV yet not a car. All things considered, it suits me just right. Ann wanted me to get the convertible for a little more but…convertibles are only cool for the first couple of days you own one. The rest of the time you’re regretting your choice because of the interior noise and, eventually, replacing the top and rear window.

Now that I’m back behind the wheel of a four-banger I’m looking forward to filling the tank every two weeks as I did with my Sentra, and at half the cost of the Explorer. I see this as a decision I could live with. But perhaps the best thing out of all of this was that I made money on the deal! The Explorer was bought for more than the selling price of the PT Cruiser, so I was cut a check for the balance since it was paid off. The stress of finding a bank was also eliminated because I owned the Explorer; all we had to do was literally sign paperwork for transfer of ownership–and get a check for the difference.

This was, however, not the first time I tried to trade in the Explorer. At one point I was looking at a Honda Element and a local Honda dealer wanted to give me $3,000 less than Carmax gave me, so I told them to cram their offer with walnuts and left. And I could have just as easily taken it back to the Ford dealer where I purchased it but I didn’t want to get another Ford.

But it’s done and over with and I think and hope I made the right decision. I felt a little better after our neighbor, a Dodge mechanic, gave the Cruiser a oncer-over and said it looked good from his standpoint.

To see what kind of mileage I get with it, I will be driving to work tomorrow. All I know is this: it will be more than 13 miles per gallon.

6 thoughts on “Downsizing

  1. Hey Dave! I am Chris, the social media PR guy at the CarMax home office in Richmond, VA. I saw your blog post mentioning CarMax. I am happy you had a great experience at CarMax. Thanks, also, for the great link to the Web site. I hope you are very happy with your PT Cruiser. Those guys have a devoted following, that’s for sure. Thanks again for your great post.
    Chris Wilmore
    Social Media PR


  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the kinds words. I would like to point out, however, that I have since noticed a few issues with the car: interior noise (whistling) at highway speeds, a small nail in the passenger rear tire, and other small things.

    I’m considering taking it to the Torrance, CA location and exchanging it for a newer model. I love the car but not sure I want to deal with those things for as long as I own it.


  3. Social Media PR is a kick-butt job title.

    Grats on the PT Cruiser…I had the pleasure of driving one for 10 days on vacation a few years back and I loved every second of it.

    And doing that while not taking on additional debt? That’s very awesome!


  4. Thanks. They are definitely unique and feel like nothing else on the road. I did like the car for the day I had it…wait, what?

    Stay tuned for the next post, in which I explain in full detail how I returned the car for another PT Cruiser 🙂


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