30 November 2012

Fuelly Follow Up

So by far, the biggest idea coming out of my switch to Fuelly from fe.gov is that I need to find some other form of transportation ASAP. Although I've been keeping records on my cars for a couple years, I've never really engaged with the stats because it required actually doing a bit of work to set it up. I do know how to do it, but I've always just been a bit lazy and complacent about it. A couple weeks ago, I did download the data for my last two cars and do a tally of total amounts spent, but that still pales in comparison to what Fuelly has now shown me. After seeing the numbers in much greater clarity via the analytic tools, the realizations have spawned or reinforced several ideas.

First, I realized exactly how much gas I've been using. A couple weeks ago, I saw that my 540 usage had just about equaled my Accord usage for total gallons, and I'd owned the 540 for about three and a half years less at that time. It has since surged on pass. So as a matter of necessity, the amount spent is also much higher, both because gas is more expensive now (lowest I paid with the Accord was ~$1.85, highest I've paid on the 540 is ~$4.90) and because the 540 just uses more period. Thanks to Fuelly, I now know that the 540's fuel usage per mile is about 50% higher than the Accord's in vivid colors. Adding that to the other associated expenses and the 540 is costing me far more than I like.

Yea, I must lug this two-ton machine everywhere with me.
With a stated 0-60 time of 5.5 seconds and a top speed north of the governor-limited 155 mph, my car was one of the premier sport sedans of the 90s and can still keep up with Civics. It also is overkill for my daily driving needs. I originally had actually not planned to daily it, but never getting my Accord running again after the engine swap changed those plans. After the 540 stopped working last year, I did buy a bike to attempt to fill the gap, but that had limited success and I drove my brother's car far more often than I biked. Nevertheless, I do continue to use it when practical even though the 540 has been repaired for awhile now. However, that unfortunately turns out to be far less frequently than I'd like it to be.

That leads me to my second realization, which is that replacing the 540 or at least finding something else to do my daily commuting with is imperative. I'd use my bike, but time/distance/(soon weather) constraints make it unfavorable. Therefore, I'm quasi-searching for a more efficient car, but I'm really considering a motorcycle or possibly a scooter. I've looked into several of the suggested entries, though I'm not afraid to get dirty and fix things so "high miles" (which apparently means anything over a low 100k miles) don't scare me. At the same time, I could get a brand new scooter or motorcycle for less than the price of most cars. Thanks to the recent spike in gas prices here, all the favorite fuel efficient options are more expensive than usual and it is getting increasingly hard to find any cars with a requisite manual transmission.

I have my options laid out for me and I intend to explore them over the next couple weeks. I have somewhat tipped the balance into the direction of a motorcycle or scooter by getting my motorcycle endorsement. That is required here in CA for anything I would eventually get, so getting it has me prepared for either option. So far, it has cost me $281 for the safety course and license plus another $245 in lost opportunity cost because the safety course was on two week days. That's $526 so far, and probably at least that amount more for protective gear. Then the cost of a bike. All this will be weighed against the cost of getting a car instead. But I'll update you guys as the story unfolds so that you too can learn how to stop wasting your money on lugging a two-to-three-ton machine with you everywhere.

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