Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Always inspect a used car....especially from your wife

I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the new Prius and maintenance. Why? Because while Kelli is driving it she pays the upkeep. So in a few years if I end up with it I want to make sure it's 100% before I take it over.

My 2004 Prius is in good shape. I really didn't pay much attention to it over the years unless Kelli brought something up. I got out of buying new tires for my Mazda5. I thought I would be free from buying tires for a while. Eh. The tires on the 2004 Prius are almost down to minimums. Thankfully they are literally 1/2 the price of what the Mazda5 tires would have been. I'm also going to need to spring for a transmission service soon, maybe a new battery (regular car battery not the hybrid battery), and possibly new floor mats. I should have required the previous owner to get the car up to snuff before I bought it. My fault. Ha!

My MPG has gone way up lately. My drive to work is 9 miles long. Of the 9 miles, 6 of them are at speeds of 35MPH and below. That low speed is great for a hybrid. My average is now up to 44.9 MPG. I am thinking with the new tires I want it will go up to 46.5 MPG. When summer comes I should be up to 49MPG easy (the "real" engine runs much more in winter than summer).

Flew my first flight Monday night. It was odd being back in the cockpit. I did fine. My first landing was decent enough. It was great to fly again.

Three months until we head out on our cruise. Long one....7 days!

Went to the North American Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday. Rented a Ford Fusion from Thrifty. Thrifty is my least favorite car rental company but National/Alamo was $48 for the day, Thrifty was $21. Of course the Ford Fusion had 26K of well worn miles on it. I was happy at first because the Fusions from Alamo/National have SYNC. Not from Thrifty as Thrifty is the ghetto car rental company. Bleh. The show was great. Maybe next year Kelli and Natali can come along. The original plan was for the three of us to stay the night, weather changed that idea.

I get paid again this weekend. Nice seeing my bank account go positive. I won't be back to normal until late March. Two and a half months of zero income was painful.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Smug face

I went to two different Toyota dealers today....and didn't spend a dime.

First up was Toyota of Dallas....again. There was a teeny, tiny scratch on the door panel of the new Prius. Not on the panel but the black, painted molding. I didn't find it until the day after we bought our car (one of the problems of buying a car at night!). The dealership stepped up to fix it no questions asked.

Traffic was REALLY bad on the way there. I went 4 miles at less than 10 MPH. Good thing I was in a Prius. I was on battery power alone for almost 10 minutes of slowly rolling. Kinda neat knowing I was traffic and it wasn't costing us a penny. Smug face. The bar graph shows minute by minute gas mileage. On this tank we have driven 237.9 mile for an average of 48.8 MPG. If the car is stopped for more than a minute it will register 0 MPG.

Dropped the car off at 8:55AM and was rolling again by 9:15AM. They even filled the gas tank and gave me two free coffee mugs.

I then dropped the car off at Kelli's office and picked up my Prius.

For a few months my Prius has made this harmonic clicking noise. The faster the car goes the faster the noise was. Not loud....and it could only be heard with the radio off. Sounded like something was on the front tires. Since I never drove it often, it didn't bother me. Kelli asked me about it when she first heard it....I kinda blew it off. Till now.

When I got home I started poking my head all around the car. I found the culprit! There were two missing fasteners holding up two of the under engine covers. Minor, but the covers flapped in wind.

The only mechanics that have worked on the car since we bought it are at Don Davis Toyota and Discount Tire. Discount Tire has only done tire stuff. Someone at Don Davis Toyota forgot to replace the fasteners at some point.

I drove down and figured I would just buy them since I can't prove when they went missing. The parts manager went out to the car and verified what I needed. He typed away on the computer, disappeared then came back and handed me the fasteners. No charge.

Once outside I put them in. Much better.

Looking forward to flying again. I head to the simulator tomorrow night. Late night session. Gonna be a little harder being up till midnight flying around. I am sure my enthusiasm will keep me up....if not the free coffee at Flight Safety will.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Found my old car

I imagine few people look and find their old cars. I do on occasion. Tonight I came across my 2003 Toyota Matrix XRS. It's for sale down the street for a tick under $10K ( ).  I paid $20K for it back in 2002.

Once I saw it I knew. It was a rare XRS model in Indigo Ink Pearl with the Black Suede interior, sunroof AND GPS. Back then it was one or the other when it came to Sunroof or GPS. I installed the GPS myself. I looked at the Carfax and saw Euless. I then Googled the VIN (2T1KY38E53C110040)  and found photos of it with the yellow fog light covers I installed. They have since been removed. Still neat. If I had a spare $10K laying around and a 3rd car garage I would buy it. It was a really fun car. Could even be family friendly.

I only am fond of a few of my previous cars. My 1994 Saturn SL2, my 1997 Saturn SC2 and the Toyota Matrix XRS. Maybe one day I will look up the Mazda5 again.

No Autoshow for me

Supposed to be on a nearly empty MD 80 headed to Detroit right now. Instead I am home sick. Boo.

I planned on making my 3rd annual trip to Detroit for the auto show today. The first flight out had 16 paying passengers out of 140 seats. The flights back had at most 60 paying passengers out of 140 seats. This morning  I called it off. Still feeling sick, plus I thought it would be best to limit my spending till I get a paycheck.

Then later this morning I realized I had been paid on Friday! Doh! Could have gone. I might still go next Sunday. We were all going to go together, but Natali got sick. Sick house indeed.

Kelli is sick now as well. I think  I had the worst of it. I had what Natali had plus what the obese Captain sitting next to me during classroom passed on. I must learn to screw being socially appropriate and MOVE when seated next to someone sick.

Upped my MPG to 43MPG via a trip to Ikea and back.

Replacement Harmony 1100 remote came Friday. We are back to being happy. Kelli was VERY upset when it broke. Interestingly enough Logitech doesn't want the old one back. It's been deactivated. Each time the remote is connected to a computer for configuration its serial number is verified online. The old one will never work again.

Qantas will be flying from Dallas soon. Kelli wants to go. It's a 17 hour flight. Maybe when Natali is out of diapers.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Android....I just don't know how to quit you

Iphone is coming to Verizon. Finally the rumors are true.

Will we switch? I thought about it...a lot. For now we will stay. Android is too entrenched in our lives. I love the Google Navigation (as does Kelli), Google Voice, Gmail and the ability to simply talk into my phone and have it transcribe it into text. Plus we have a fairly cheap plan.

My mother in law though.....she shold hop over to an Iphone. Would be a very easy transition for she could play games against Kelli, Kelly, Jami and I. Like Words with Friends. Just sayin' Peggy....the Iphone is easy to use....just like your Imac.

My 2004 Prius MPG kinda blows....right now I 'm getting 38 MPG! I know why. For one, it's cold and causes the "real" engine to run more often. The second is all my trips are very short and non-green.

My longest trip right now is 5 miles one way. It's 4.5 miles of highway and .5 mile of surface streets....taking Natali to daycare. If I had a longer trip or took surface streets the entire way I would get a better average. I'm content. Come spring/summer it will go up to the mid-40s at least.

Not missing a hole in the roof of the car yet. I have had a sunroof in all but 2 vehicles I have owned. Will be interesting come summer.

Won $300 on my slot machine last night. This was after putting $60 in and lost it all playing $1's. Never won a thing! Not even a cherry. Glad it "paid" me back.

I passed my classroom training on my aircraft. Next week I take the simulator portion. After that I fly around in the real thing (with real passengers on board) and then I'm back to normal. It will be an "interesting" first flight.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I need a bigger hole

Tried to install the same "Bad Boy II Air Horn" that I installed in the Mazda into the Prius. Won't fit. Too BAD/big apparently. Boo. Gonna have to find a different horn...or find a bigger hole somewhere. Wimpy horn remains.

Today is my first day back at work. Excited and nervous. Studied for days.

Installed a two tone, perforated steering wheel in my Prius. It was custom made for the Prius steering wheel. Perfect fit, feels much better. I've never owned a car with a plastic steering wheel...color me spoiled.

I filled up both cars over the weekend. My 2004 Prius took a whole 7.5 gallons to fill up with one bar showing prior to fill up. The 2010 Prius took 9 gallons with one bar showing. The difference is the 2004 has a bladder fuel tank while the 2010 has a conventional fuel tank. The 2004 bladder system "shrinks" when its cold thus holds less fuel and is near impossible to fill completely. Yep like men the Prius has "shrinkage" when gold. Both tanks hold 11.9 gallons. Kelli got 51.3 MPG while my Prius got 48.2 MPG. We both started tracking our mileage on an app to compare what the car reports. My previous Mazda5 average 26.5 MPG over 21K miles.

My old Mazda is for sale, ( ), if anyone buys it shoot me an email. I have a bunch of "extra parts" from when I installed/uninstalled the radio, subwoofer and homelink mirror. I took out everything before I traded in....saved the extra parts...lots of screws and stuff. Reason being a dealer told me the all weather floor mats, rear cargo cover, cargo protector, homelink mirror and subwoofer add nothing to the cars value. Pulled it out. Will eBay or craigslist it all for cheap.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I bought my Mazda...and the Prius.....

I bought two cars today....and one last week.

So I thought my Mazda5 was history. Nah.

Mazda American Credit is a power hungry dictatorship run by nut jobs....that's my opinion anyway.

Mazda American Credit will only take payment for leases from the leassor or a Mazda dealer. No one else. Thus Toyota of Dallas could not pay off my car.

So here's what went down.

I returned to Toyota of Dallas and repurchased the Prius. The contract had an extra $300 added on as Toyota of Dallas had to pay sales tax to my Mazda dealer. I did get credit for the tax difference (I previously paid full taxes on the Prius as there is no tax credit on lease trade ins).

After signing all the paperwork I was driven in a new Corolla by a salesman to my Mazda dealer in Denton. I then purchased my Mazda5. Yep I bought it out right with a cashiers check "from me" to the Mazda dealer. I will get the title in the mail and have to send it to Toyota of Dallas. Bizarre doesn't begin to describe it.

For anyone in a lease from Mazda American Credit who found this post....good luck. Both the Mazda dealer and Toyota dealer thought the way Mazda American Credit handles leases is ridiculous. My Toyota Dealer has never and will never again deal with Mazda American Credit leases. Can't blame them. I won't either.

While I am on my soapbox. Classic Mazda of Denton really did a number on me when I leased my Mazda5. It was sold with known knicks in the hood and a slightly damaged 'A' pillar. I know they knew as I remember how odd it was they gave an "Extra" $700 off for no reason. I suspect they knew it was damaged and discounted the price by what it would take to fix it. Of course if I terminated my lease I would have been dinged for the money. Nice eh?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Turn and walk away

I'm going to pay a lot more attention to the new Prius as far as maintenance. I really let it slip on the "old" one.

I replaced the engine and cabin filters, wiper blades, washed and waxed it, corrected the air pressure (they were low due to cold temperature outside) and "freshened' up the interior (Kelli has some kind of air freshener in there that was lowering my testosterone level).

Still adjusting the having Natali in day care. Over the weekend Angela mentioned how she had a hard time dropping off Marin for day care. I thought I would be fine. Eh. I've conditioned myself to turn and walk away once Natali is settled.

Head back to training for my plane on Monday. Can't wait.

For the first time in a while I am okay with the tech in my life. I'm sure this will change soon, the Consumer Electronics Show is next week.

We didn't win the MegaMillion lottery.  I did win $22 on a $1 scratch offs last week. Only spent $3 on the tickets. Not bad.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2004 Prius vs 2010 Prius

We are now a two Prius household. We have the first version of the Generation II Prius (the 2004) and the first version of the Generation III Prius (the 2010).

The two are very different. The 2004 drives like a video game. You know you are driving something not normal. The steering feels disconnected, the transition between hybrid and the "real" engine is very noticeable, and the seating position is a little awkward.

The 2010 drives like a regular car. The steering is more "normal", the transition between the two systems is much more subtle and the seating position is much more comfy. The 2010 seat goes up/down and the steering wheel tilts and telescopes. The 2004 seat height is locked and the steering wheel only tilts.

Our 2004 Prius was the top package offered in 2004 known as package 9. Our 2010 Prius is one step up from the mid-line Prius.

The 2010 has a lot of features, everything the 2004 has save HID headlights and a tape player. The 2010 has lots of nice little touches like foot well lighting, a mood light that makes the shifter and center console glow, an aux in port for MP3 players, heated seats and more.

Kelli did wish for a heated steering wheel on her 2010 Prius. I told her the Kia Optima has a heated steering wheel, smart key and more. She "bleh'd" me.

Yesterday I "took over" the 2004 Prius. I asked the previous owner to clean it out. I then went to work. My "new" 2004 Prius hasn't been washed in a while. It's silver, so it's hard to tell. The interior hasn't been cleaned in even longer.

After about 2 hours I was done cleaning, vacuuming and preparing the inside. I stopped by Pepboys and bought a new engine air filter. A whole $12. I was going to buy a new cabin air filter but it was $37! A better filter on Amazon is $11.

Back to the 2010 Prius. It was a climate control system with the Sanyo Plasmacluster Ionizer. It's in top level Prius and Camry models (including the Camry Hybrid my mother in law has). The system releases small amounts of Ozone to clean the air coming into the car of smells and contaminants. Allegedly if you are behind a smelly diesel car and hit the button, the diesel smell goes away. Also allegedly the amount of Ozone released is negligible.

No idea when I am going back to work for real. I'm getting frustrated with my employer. I'm going to call midday if I don't hear from them about a training date. We dropped Natali off at day care for the first time. Sitting in the house by myself is very odd.