New car: 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid

Last Friday I purchased a car almost sight-unseen. After writing the sellers a check I gave the car back to them for an undetermined amount of time.

How’s that for a lead-in?

For the past three years we’ve been a one car household. Because I work from home and Benjamin’s school schedule allowed for some flexibility in car usage this hasn’t been too arduous. Since he’s started working full time it’s become apparent that we needed a second car to prevent me from being even more hermity than I already am.

Because I’ve gotten along without a car for so long and because it’s more for the periodic bopping around I wasn’t all that picky about what car I wanted. Enter Meghann and Peter, good friends from Austin who moved to Colorado last year. They recently bought a beautiful home up in the mountains at the end of snow season and discovered that their two hybrid vehicles weren’t going to cut it in the winter and that they really needed at least one 4-wheel drive vehicle. The car they were planning on selling was a 2004 Honda Civic Hybrid. We talked about it and they agreed to sell it to me.

At the time I purchased it, I had never seen the inside of the car, much less driven it. I knew Meghann and Peter took great car of their vehicles and that despite being a 2004 model it only had 59k miles on it. Add on that it gets ~50 mpg with a manual transmission and I was sold.

I borrowed the car from them this past Friday to get it registered (VIN verification, emissions test, etc) which was an ordeal I won’t bother going into detail here1. Then I gave it back to them on Saturday. Right now they need two vehicles until they make some time to purchase their new one. I on the other hand don’t really need it. I have survived without one for 3 years already, what’s another week or two (or three or four)?

The day and a half I had the car I really enjoyed it. It was fun to drive a stick again although it’s a bit different experience than my Mustang — not quite as much get up and go. I still have to get use to the optimal way to drive the vehicle. When driving the ‘stang it was more energy efficient to shift into neutral when coming to a stop light or stop sign to let the engine idle. In the Civic (who does not yet have a name) the vehicle must be in gear to charge the battery so taking it out of gear to coast to a stop prevents it from charging. I grok the necessary change but it’ll take a few weeks to retrain my muscle memory.

When Meghann and Peter hand off the car for good there are two very important things that must be done:

  1. Give the car a name. I’ve been assured that it currently doesn’t have a name so it won’t get confused when I christen it.
  2. Get the windows tinted. I’ve no idea how they survived in Austin without tinted windows!

1 The short version: hybrid cars don’t need emissions testing in CO; DL office != title registration office; Arapaho county != Denver county; was told I needed a Security Agreement form filled out by the bank but in truth I could have filled it out myself there in front of her instead of leaving, faxing it to my bank, having them fax it back, getting it notarized (by suggestion from my bank) and coming back later to wait in line again.

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I'm a gay geek living in Seattle, WA.

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