When we first moved out to the woods, I refused to believe we would need an all-wheel drive vehicle.
We were quite content driving our fuel efficient Ford Focus wagon for our 50+ mile daily commute.
But after a couple of winters in which we got dumped on by snow storm after snow storm, we decided that we needed at least one of our vehicles to have all-wheel drive.
We purchased a gently used Ford Escape, which has been getting about 19 miles a gallon – a lot less than the 30 miles/gallon we got with the Focus, but reasonable considering we wanted to actually be able to get out of our driveway in the winter. And somewhere in between there we had twins and ended up with a Chrysler minivan (which gets about 22 miles per gallon).
And then the price of gas went up. And up. And up some more. With gas hovering around $4 a gallon, we are estimating that each trip to town costs us about $12. It definitely makes you think about your motives for going to town!
But are the rising prices enough to make us want to trade in our gas guzzler for a fuel sipper?
This is a question that a lot of you may be having each time you feel the pain at the pump. Edmunds has a great Gas Mileage Savings Calculator that can help you decide if you should trade in your vehicle for a more fuel efficient model.
But the calculator is just the beginning. You also need to ask yourself some tough questions:
How much do you owe on your vehicle and what is it worth? If you owe more on your vehicle than its current trade-in value, you’ll need to come up with some cash to make the deal work – cash you probably don’t have if you’re looking for ways to cut your fuel bill. In our case, our Ford Escape is paid for, but we’d still need to come up with about $3,000 to get a slightly newer Toyota Prius. Not really an option for us right now.
How many miles are on your current vehicle? A vehicle with high miles won’t fetch as much for a trade-in, but if your vehicle has been costing you a lot in repairs and gas it may be time to unload it.
What do you use your vehicle for? How much do plan to drive? Under what conditions? In our case we decided that having the all-wheel drive capability was very important to us where we live. We also wanted to be able to tow a trailer or boat and haul stuff in the back.
Do you want to take the time to find the best deal? If you really want to trade in your vehicle for a more fuel efficient model, you’ll want to shop around for the best possible deal to make sure the trade makes sense. If you’re not willing to take the time to do your homework, you may want to hold off. In our case, the Edmunds Gas Mileage Savings Calculator determined that it would take 30 months for us to see a savings after the trade-in. That’s almost 3 years!
Overall, we’re happy with our vehicle and have decided to take steps to save on gas as much as possible. We’re hoping the rumors of falling gas prices this summer come true, but if not, we’re content with our decision to keep things as-is.
What do you think? Are you planning to trade in your gas guzzler? Why or why not?