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Would it be absolutely ludicrous to look into buying a car that takes premium fuel in this day and age?
June 15, 2008 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Would it be absolutely ludicrous to look into buying a car that takes premium fuel in this day and age?

I am a 23 year-old aerospace engineer, one year out of college, and making a decent and average starting salary with the job I've been in since graduating. It has come the time to buy a new car since I'm driving a 2004 Cavalier that feels like it's going to fall apart when it approaches 60 mph.

I'd love to buy a used BMW 3-series, Audi A4, Infiniti G-coupe, or maybe even a Mercedes-Benz C-Class. All take premium fuel. The only regular-guzzling car I really would like is a Mazda 3.

Am I out of my mind to consider these more-expensive ones considering the state of the economy and fuel prices?

I keep bouncing back and forth and I'd love to get some advice from you fine people.
posted by decrescendo to Travel & Transportation (55 answers total)
 
My recommendation would be the Mazda 3. It's not as flashy or exciting, but gas will continue to rise and, if we have any crises, premium will be the first type of fuel to stop flowing. Furthermore, consider mileage. The BMW will get about 16 and the Mazda 3 around 25. If you consider the price difference and the mileage, you'll be paying about twice as much for fuel to go the same distance.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:16 AM on June 15, 2008


As a percentage of the total cost of a gallon of gas, the difference between regular, plus and premium is small -- usually only 10-15 cents per gallon for each grade up.
posted by netbros at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2008


Calculate your annual cost of gas consumption at regular grade (ex. $4.00) and your annual cost at premium grade (ex. $4.25). The difference between these two amounts is the premium you will pay for owning a car that takes high octane gas.

And since you're under 25, you might also consider what your insurance rate will be if you purchase one of these premium fueled cars.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2008


I think there is another question to answer first. What kind of care have you provided to the 04 Cavalier? There is no way a 4 year old car should be in bad shape, unless you drive 40K miles a year or something. I'm still tooling around in a 97 Mazda 626 which I believe to have many more years of life yet. If keeping up on preventive maintenance is not your thing, definately stay away from any high end vehicle. The precise engineering in those cars requires you to keep up with your preventive maintenance or you will be spending a lot of time at the shop. If you think gas is expensive wait until you see the repair bill on a BMW or Mercedes!

There is never a good financial argument for replacing a paid for, safe to drive vehicle. The first thing I would do is have a qualified mechanic look over the Cavalier and give you an assessment. 'Falling apart a 60 mph' could be a simple wheel balance issue that will cost $40 to fix.
posted by COD at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2008


It's not ludicrous, but you have to do the calculation up front to see if it's worth it to you. A conservative estimate would expect that the price of gas will stay relatively constant or even go up some more over the lifetime of your car. You can figure out the cost of fuel by dividing the number of miles you drive times by the MPG for each car and multiplying times the estimated cost of fuel.

Also, I think some cars are "premium fuel only", while others are "premium fuel recommended", but putting regular fuel in a car designed for premium reduces gas mileage so it may not save you anything in the long run.

You may find that the Mercedes costs $2000 more over the life of the car (compared to the Mazda) and that this $2000 is worth it to you. But that is just fuel, you also need to consider maintenance, licensing, insurance, and resale value, so the overall difference between the Mercedes and Mazda may really be $8000. You may decide that getting the Mazda and investing $8000 would be better.
posted by amfea at 8:21 AM on June 15, 2008


I like cars. Probably too much. I wouldn't let premium fuel stand between me and the car (both mine and my wife's require it). The price difference is negligible.

I like financial security, too. So while premium isn't a deal-breaker for me, big monthly payments are.

The cars you've listed, with the exception of the Mazda, are luxed-up sport sedans under pricey brands. There are less expensive alternatives (from Mazda, Honda/Acura, Subaru). What are you looking for from your car?
posted by notyou at 8:21 AM on June 15, 2008


BMW is releasing a hybrid X3. Is that an option?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:25 AM on June 15, 2008


I'm driving a 2004 Cavalier that feels like it's going to fall apart when it approaches 60 mph.

Then get it fixed. I guarantee you that will cost less than a new car.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:37 AM on June 15, 2008


Would it be absolutely ludicrous to look into buying a car that takes premium fuel in this day and age?

Ludicrous, no. Self-indulgent, yes.

The thing is, premium fuel is what? 10 to 20-cents a gallon more than regular? That a small portion of over all fuel cost.

You need to be concerned about fuel efficiency, not what blend the car requires. Indeed, there are lots of people out there buying up diesel turbo cars like those from VW at a time when diesel is way more expensive than premium unleaded. Why? Because the few extra pennies at the pump allow them to get 40-50mpg.

I'm also with COD that your '04 car should not be falling to pieces yet. True, the Caviler is reasonably crappy car, but it should be holding up better than you describe. Are you sure you're not inflating the poor quality of your current car in your mind as a justification for buying something more flashy?

I've owned a lot of sports and sporty cars over the years in a time when gas prices and millage were distant second thoughts. If it I had it to do over again I would have driven something economical all those years I was doing dough nuts in my 944 or RX7 - I'd probably have a lot more cash to show for it and be closer to having something really nice tucked away in the garage. Flashy cars are great when you feel the constant need to show off your purchasing power. They are not so great when you're old enough to know better...
posted by wfrgms at 8:40 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Get a Lotus Elise. They're light and aerodynamic so logically they must be really fuel efficient. You'll be doing your bit to help the environment.
posted by Mike1024 at 8:43 AM on June 15, 2008




Fix up your Cavalier while you wait for the Audi A3 TDi to come to the U.S. 52 MPH, low Co2 and a big-ass boot.
posted by Zambrano at 9:25 AM on June 15, 2008


Have you considered getting a really fast motorcycle? Both the performance and the gas mileage, to say nothing of the sticker price, will wildly surpass any of the cars you're considering.
posted by box at 9:41 AM on June 15, 2008


Echoing the "what the heck are you doing to your 04 Cavalier?" sentiment. I'm still driving a 96 Cavalier with 150k miles and it runs wonderfully.
posted by sjl7678 at 9:44 AM on June 15, 2008


I think there is another question to answer first. What kind of care have you provided to the 04 Cavalier? There is no way a 4 year old car should be in bad shape, unless you drive 40K miles a year or something. I'm still tooling around in a 97 Mazda 626 which I believe to have many more years of life yet. If keeping up on preventive maintenance is not your thing, definately stay away from any high end vehicle. The precise engineering in those cars requires you to keep up with your preventive maintenance or you will be spending a lot of time at the shop. If you think gas is expensive wait until you see the repair bill on a BMW or Mercedes!

There is never a good financial argument for replacing a paid for, safe to drive vehicle. The first thing I would do is have a qualified mechanic look over the Cavalier and give you an assessment. 'Falling apart a 60 mph' could be a simple wheel balance issue that will cost $40 to fix.


The wheels have been balanced numerous times and the tires are new. And it still vibrates beginning at 45 mph. Maybe it's a CV joint?
posted by decrescendo at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2008


FWIW I get 32 MPG on the highway with my 2007 Mazda 3 (automatic transmission) and about 23 city. It's not awesome -- not like a hybrid or something really small and fuel-efficient -- but it's better than one of my parents' Hondas and on par with the other.
posted by olinerd at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2008


I had a 98 Cavalier that I put 140,000 miles on it. From day one to the day I sold it, it always felt like it was going to fall apart when it hit 60 miles an hour. It's a cheap car. It feels cheap and handles cheap.

The Mazda 3 is good for fuel economy but has one of the fugliest dashboards ever.
posted by pieoverdone at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2008


Also, while some day I hope to be the proud owner of a British racing green Lotus Elise, I love my 3 -- I got the S Grand Touring pack (full upgrades on seats, wheels, stereo system, sunroof, lots of automatic things, etc) and I adore it. I get tons of compliments from car geek coworkers (including the guy who gets a new BMW or Mercedes with $10k rims every two years).
posted by olinerd at 9:57 AM on June 15, 2008


The cars you've listed, with the exception of the Mazda, are luxed-up sport sedans under pricey brands. There are less expensive alternatives (from Mazda, Honda/Acura, Subaru). What are you looking for from your car?

I've always wanted to drive something with RWD, some performance, and some sex appeal. The car movies I like are The Transporter, etc. Not Fast And The Furious. I like the black tuxedo BMW/Merc type of thing, not a WRX STI.

The Mazda isn't as classy as I'd like but I'm getting fairly gunshy about this whole fuel crisis.
posted by decrescendo at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2008


Echoing the "what the heck are you doing to your 04 Cavalier?" sentiment. I'm still driving a 96 Cavalier with 150k miles and it runs wonderfully.

My car runs fine but there is something causing some insane vibration. I put a lot of miles on it but she's very clean underneath (no oil leaking etc) and the drivetrain is fine. It's just this damn vibration....
posted by decrescendo at 10:00 AM on June 15, 2008


Also, while some day I hope to be the proud owner of a British racing green Lotus Elise, I love my 3 -- I got the S Grand Touring pack (full upgrades on seats, wheels, stereo system, sunroof, lots of automatic things, etc) and I adore it. I get tons of compliments from car geek coworkers (including the guy who gets a new BMW or Mercedes with $10k rims every two years).

I would definitely buy that trim level on the 3. I might even consider the hatch version even though I dislike the look of most hatches.
posted by decrescendo at 10:01 AM on June 15, 2008


What do you all foresee the resale values on premium-sipping cars in the future? If this fuel thing gets really out of hand are they going to end up like SUVs are right now?
posted by decrescendo at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2008


BMW is releasing a hybrid X3. Is that an option?

not really a fan of that car and I want something lower to the ground than that
posted by decrescendo at 10:04 AM on June 15, 2008


Re vibration, decrescendo, your car would benefit from a good mechanic working on it to solve this problem. Don't tell the mechanic "balance the wheels," but rather "get rid of this vibration at 45mph."

A good mechanic should be able to do this.

Re premium or not on a new BMW, I've driven a friend's BMW after a premium fillup and a regular, cheap 87 octane fillup, and cannot tell the difference even in spirited highway driving. I suspect the BMW's engine management system does a very good job of adapting to different grades.
posted by zippy at 10:27 AM on June 15, 2008


I make a good salary and instead of driving something flashy I have, yep, a Mazda 3. It's just fine. FWIW, I get around 28 MPG city driving. I've driven BMW 3 series and while they feel sturdier overall and probably could take a day's worth of hard driving better than the Mazda, the handling wasn't much better and the throttle response just a bit peppier. The other side is that the BMW 3, or the other entry level "luxury" cars you list are for suckers who are waiting to be fleeced. The notion that owning a BMW is somehow indicative of climbing the social ranks is absurd. Pay cash for your cars. Saving money and improving your overall situation is how you climb. If you can pay cash for a nice big BMW, go for it. But I can't see tossing my take home pay on something that is just an ego stroke.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


A 3 series is capable of far better than 16 miles per gallon - depending on how you choose to drive.
posted by rotifer at 10:38 AM on June 15, 2008


I've driven A4s for 8 years now. All of them 100% of the time on premium. When I got my last one in 2005, and the then crazy $2.70/gal premium vs $2.39 regular did give me pause for about one second. Today in Austin, regular unleaded is $3.89 and premium is $4.09 (I've seen it as high as $4.22). The gas tank is 17 gallons so you're talking about $3.5 more a tankful. The 20 cent premium has been around forever so it has always cost me $3.5 to drive a car that takes premium. It was more "decadent" when $3.5 could buy a few gallons of gas, but now, it is less than a gallon. The last time I filled up, the total was $70 so 5% of the total was the "premium" I paid for running premium. The poor bastard in the Expedition pays a much higher premium for driving a gas pig than I do for buying the high falutin premium gas.

My car gets 35mpg on the highway at 75mph (on Texas flatlands) [disclosure: it the 2.0L turbo FWD with 6 speed manual, the quattro mileage will be less... also if you're thinking about the A4, wait until the 2009 get here this fall, new design looks a lot like the A5]. It gets 23 around town. I'm not concerned a bit that the little sticker near the gas cap that says it requires 92+ octane will impact its resale price. If it got shitty mileage AND took premium, then it would be bad. But the shitty mileage, not the grade of gas would be the leading factor.

Now one could say that if fuel gets way out of hand and the refiners shift more of their output to regular unleaded it may drive the price of premium since its demand is limited so maybe the 20 cent delta might become 25 cents. They can't have the price delta be too much because at a certain point, people will put in midgrade or regular gas. Another scenario is supply is constrained on regular unleaded and people are forced to buy higher grade because that's all they can find -- and the gas dealers raise the prices to take advantage of the increased demand). There's a

If VW imports enough of them and there isn't a crazy premium on them, I'm going to get the Jetta TDI hybrid. And when I was in California over Memorial day noticed diesel was approaching $5.50/gal (it is $4.63 here today). But gas would have to be above $12/gallon for it not to be cheaper on a $/mile basis than my current car at current prices.

The method I'm going to select for my next car is $/mile. You can then plug in gas prices which makes the MPG a deal killer.

I'm saving money (or not spending as much) on gas by not driving as much. It also keeps the resale value higher since I'm not putting as much miles on the odometer. Not wearing out the tires or needing maintenance.
posted by birdherder at 10:42 AM on June 15, 2008


Oh, since you're asking whether your choices make sense or not economically, I'll weigh in. A fancy car isn't about economics, so no, these cars don't make economic sense. A Honda Accord will get you there just as reliably, if not more so, and with lower depreciation, maintenance, and operating costs. No matter what the state of the economy, you will be in better financial shape five years down the road with this choice.

If you'd like to split the difference, economically, while still getting a high-end car, I recommend buying a car that's 3 years old with under 60k miles. The previous owner will have eaten most of the depreciation, while handing you a car that should reliably run for another 90k miles without requiring anything but normal maintenance.

But if you want the best economic choice - the one that will give you the greatest financial freedom - buy a used Honda or Toyota, drive it into the ground, lather, rinse, and repeat. A well-built car will run for 150k - 200k miles with regular maintenance.
posted by zippy at 10:48 AM on June 15, 2008


Work out what the cost of owning each of your car choices will be, and factor in an estimate for how much gas will rise over the ownership period. You might also consider the fact that a gas guzzling car might lose resale value. After doing all of that, can you afford it? Then it's not ludicrous. If you can't afford it, then it is. Personally, I think of driving as a chore, and would never pay extra for it, but then you probably wouldn't spend money on pretty fabric or a good quality sewing machine.
posted by happyturtle at 10:52 AM on June 15, 2008


I'd love to buy a used BMW 3-series, Audi A4, Infiniti G-coupe, or maybe even a Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

it's not really that much of a difference. unless you take the largest engines available you'll have an equal or better fuel economy. also don't forget other costs factoring in.

also: they don't really run on premium fuel only. it's just that what counts as premium in north america usually has an octane level of 90-93 while 95 is the absolute minimum you'll find in german fuels. real premium fuels for them are more like 98-100 octanes. that's considered racing fuel in the US.
posted by krautland at 10:54 AM on June 15, 2008




I have nothing positive to add regarding the cars you are interested in, but with regards to the vibration: get your rims checked. I've got a nasty vibration that starts up around 45mph (2002 Ford Focus). My mechanic pointed out the dents in my rims from nailing too many big potholes. When I get around to having it repaired, it will run about $100 per rim (repair, not replace).
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:43 AM on June 15, 2008


With all due respect, you seem confused as to what you want. :)

First, the Mazad 3 isn't rear-wheel drive. It's front-wheel drive, and tends to torque steer at that. Even the Mazdaspeed 3 (premium only!) is front-wheel drive.

Next, if you can reasonably afford a Mercedes, BMW, Audi, or Infiniti, and extra 10% fuel cost isn't going to make a difference to your pocketbook. At all. You're literally talking about doubling the cost of the car itself (MSRP of $13895 - $20195 versus $28900 - $47900 for the A4). Most of the premium marques have nice maintenance plans built in now, e.g. BMW's no-cost maintenance deal, but that's only a real money-saver if you're not going to keep the car longer than 3-5 or so years. And if you have the money to buy a new BMW every few years, well... again, 10% fuel cost increase won't matter.

Lastly, excepting extraordinary circumstances, it will never make more financial sense to buy a new car than to repair an existing one. Parts for older cars are cheaper than for newer ones, the environmental impact of their production has already been made, and the total cost of repairs will almost assuredly be far less than the cost of a new car. You could replace every major system in your Cavalier for less than the cost of a new A4 and still have money to go on vacation. This, of course, all assumes solely a utilitarian argument, but let's face it - driving can be rewarding in and of itself, and there is an economic value associated with that.

I very recently went through the same sort of decision-making process you're going through now. I'm 25, overpaid like you are, and wanted something with cachet and spunk that wouldn't break the bank. In the end, I decided that premium fuel was a small price to pay in order to own an extraordinarily practical car that would still spank the doors off most cars in any contest that matters. I suggest that you prioritize the various aspects of a car, economic arguments amongst them, and decide from that.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:47 AM on June 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have nothing positive to add regarding the cars you are interested in, but with regards to the vibration: get your rims checked. I've got a nasty vibration that starts up around 45mph (2002 Ford Focus). My mechanic pointed out the dents in my rims from nailing too many big potholes. When I get around to having it repaired, it will run about $100 per rim (repair, not replace).

my one rim looks bent but wouldn't they catch that when they are balancing after a rotation?
posted by decrescendo at 11:50 AM on June 15, 2008


First, the Mazad 3 isn't rear-wheel drive. It's front-wheel drive, and tends to torque steer at that. Even the Mazdaspeed 3 (premium only!) is front-wheel drive.

Oh i know that. One of the reasons why I'd rather go with RWD. Audi's are FWD-based AWD which isn't incredible but better than a Mazda FWD.
posted by decrescendo at 11:51 AM on June 15, 2008


wouldn't they catch that when they are balancing after a rotation?
They SHOULD catch it, but whether they actually tell you is a different matter. Depends on where you get the work done. I've learned to avoid the big chain shops as workmanship tends to be lacking.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 12:13 PM on June 15, 2008


They SHOULD catch it, but whether they actually tell you is a different matter. Depends on where you get the work done. I've learned to avoid the big chain shops as workmanship tends to be lacking.

had them balanced/rotated and new tires put on at Sears Auto Center

just had them balance/rotated at a little local place yesterday and nothing has changed

the mechanic said he noticed nothing out of the ordinary

does anyone think this could be CV joint related?
posted by decrescendo at 12:18 PM on June 15, 2008


oh, no one has mentioned this, but if the car is turbocharged, you'll need premium for sure. the 4cyl A4 is turbo. turbocharged cars are specifically tuned to run on a certain octane in order to deal with the changes in the combustion process resulting form forced induction. running on a lower octane rating will usually result in knocking, and the engine computer will dial back ignition timing to prevent damage from the detonation. the car's gonna feel sluggish from the loss of power.

something else to consider, beyond the fuel costs, are the repair costs. If you buy one of the German brands, it's wise to consider buying a 'certified' used model. They all do this now; you get a used car, but with the manufacturer backing the warranty. most of the time it runs a few years/miles; not as long as the original, but when you're dealing with repairs on the German cars, it will save your ass.
posted by ninjew at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2008


Subaru Legacy GT (Real AWD; STi guts, adult manners).

Mazda Miata (RWD; light, sporty)

Honda S200 (RWD; light, extra-sporty, at the end of the production run and available at a steep discount).

If those are too small -- the Mazda RX-8 gets you a back seat.

BMW 1 Series (RWD (no LSD, however); smaller, lighter, cheaper than your 3 Series).

The Pontiac G8 is RWD and it doesn't look terrible.

As are: Ford Mustangs, Infiniti G's, Nissan Z's, Dodge Challenger's and Chargers.

Edmunds Search: (Sedan/Performance/RWD)

And: (Coupe/Performance/RWD)
posted by notyou at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2008


Subaru Legacy GT (Real AWD; STi guts, adult manners).

Mazda Miata (RWD; light, sporty)

Honda S200 (RWD; light, extra-sporty, at the end of the production run and available at a steep discount).

If those are too small -- the Mazda RX-8 gets you a back seat.

BMW 1 Series (RWD (no LSD, however); smaller, lighter, cheaper than your 3 Series).

The Pontiac G8 is RWD and it doesn't look terrible.

As are: Ford Mustangs, Infiniti G's, Nissan Z's, Dodge Challenger's and Chargers.


Legacy - I find it boring/ugly
Miata - too small for me right now
S2000 - same as the Miata
RX-8 - unattractive
1-series - unattractive
G8 - too big for me right now
Challenger/Mustang - don't want a muscle car
Z - don't really like it
G - I think I like the G-coupe, not so much the sedan

maybe I'm picky? haha
posted by decrescendo at 12:29 PM on June 15, 2008


oh, no one has mentioned this, but if the car is turbocharged, you'll need premium for sure. the 4cyl A4 is turbo. turbocharged cars are specifically tuned to run on a certain octane in order to deal with the changes in the combustion process resulting form forced induction. running on a lower octane rating will usually result in knocking, and the engine computer will dial back ignition timing to prevent damage from the detonation. the car's gonna feel sluggish from the loss of power.

Oh wow. Good call there. So there goes the A4, SPEED3, and 335i for the use of regular gas.

330i's are a straight 6 so they'll hopefully handle it. Same with G-coupes and C-classes.
posted by decrescendo at 12:31 PM on June 15, 2008


decrescendo writes "does anyone think this could be CV joint related?"

A CV joint that was so wore out it was causing a vibration would be clicking and clunking like mad. IE: you'd be able to hear it most likely. Assuming it is speed related and not engine RPM related (if you floor it in first you don't get the vibration) your vibration could be caused by
  • Tires/wheels. Anyplace that does dynamic balancing (practically all) should be able to tell you if you have an issue with your tires.
  • Suspension Bushings.
  • Ball joints.
  • Wheel bearings.
  • Struts
  • Motor or transmission mounts.
  • Drive shafts / CV joints.
Any decent mechanic should be able to figure this out, only the motor mounts can be tricky to diagnose.
posted by Mitheral at 12:56 PM on June 15, 2008


Oh wow. Good call there. So there goes the A4, SPEED3, and 335i for the use of regular gas.

Premium is not much of a premium, cost-wise: the premium you're clearly prepared to pay for the Teutons is much bigger. Turbo-charged cars generally get better gas mileage than other cars that achieve comparable performance with Naturally Aspirated engines (since turbos are generally stacked onto smaller, more efficient engines).
posted by notyou at 1:02 PM on June 15, 2008


I was under the impression that bad CV joints made clicking noises going around corners.

As for your question RE: gas, I just picked up a new [to me] motorbike that's only supposed to take premium (BMW). I weighed the potential pitfalls with current gas prices, but as people have noted, the difference now between regular and premium is pretty small. I did my affordability test expecting it to be $5/gallon. Mileage is a bigger factor.

and IMO, ludicrous is SUV / HUMMER territory.
posted by Busithoth at 1:22 PM on June 15, 2008



I was under the impression that bad CV joints made clicking noises going around corners.

As for your question RE: gas, I just picked up a new [to me] motorbike that's only supposed to take premium (BMW). I weighed the potential pitfalls with current gas prices, but as people have noted, the difference now between regular and premium is pretty small. I did my affordability test expecting it to be $5/gallon. Mileage is a bigger factor.

and IMO, ludicrous is SUV / HUMMER territory.


Yeah I suppose so. Naturally, I'd love to get some little car with a V-8 in it (like the S4) but that is getting close to Escalade mileage and even I am throwing those type of cars out of the running. Some of the six cylinder cars are fairly different when it comes to gas mileage. 330i I-6's get vastly better mileage than the V-6 Mustang I believe.
posted by decrescendo at 1:33 PM on June 15, 2008


I filled up my tank today... it cost about 15$ (it was nearly empty at the time), I filled it with premium gas... The vehicle is faster from 0 to 60 than 80% of the other vehicles on the road, handles like a charm, is sporty and fun... I get about 50 mpg.

Get a Sportster....
posted by HuronBob at 3:06 PM on June 15, 2008


Um, you might want to double-check what fuel a Mazda3 takes. I was a little surprised after I purchased a used 2007 Mazda3 hatchback (not a Mazda Speed3, btw) that it wants premium fuel.
posted by amtho at 5:01 PM on June 15, 2008


My last truck (an old 4Runner) wanted premium. I grew to hate paying the extra. My new truck (a Nissan Frontier) takes regular. It's a gas guzzling beast but at least I don't have to watch the premium dials go round.

Shuddering above 45 mph could be a whole bunch of things, including stuck brake calipers heating up a brake rotor which warps as it gets hot. If it was a Toyota, I'd say take it to a dealer. Being as it's a Chevy Cav, I second your idea of buying a new car. From my own experience I'd strongly recommend Toyota, Nissan or Honda in roughly that order.

The Subaru WRX gets a lot of love from folk around here who like to drive fast on dirt roads and snow.
posted by unSane at 5:53 PM on June 15, 2008


I drive a Grand Prix GTP that requires premium. I have no problem filling it with what it wants.

Your per mile cost for premium versus regular, these days, is going to be roughly a penny. Given that the IRS calculates the operating cost of a vehicle at around 50 cents per mile, a penny isn't going to change much. It's just another cost of owning a fine automobile...

(I'd also add that these cars require premium because they are extracting more power out of the fuel. It's possible that when you're driving with fuel economy in mind, you'll make up that difference or even exceed it. Just as a data point, the non-supercharged version of my car gets worse highway mileage than the supercharged version. Exact same car and engine, except for the supercharger. And that the transmission is geared slightly lower, precisely because the engine produces more power and thus can maintain speed with fewer RPMS.)
posted by gjc at 10:02 PM on June 15, 2008


If regular gas is $4.00 and premium is $4.20, then basically you're looking at a 5% "tax" on gas in order to drive the car you want to drive. Only you can decide if it is worth it to you or not. Me? I say, if you can afford it, go for it -- you only live once, and if you are into cars (like you obviously are) you should get the car you want.
posted by spilon at 10:49 PM on June 15, 2008


$4.00 for 87
$4.20 for 91

that's 20 cents. how big is your tank? 15 gallons? that's an extra $3 a tank. gas once a week makes it an extra $156 a year. skip coffee thursday morning.

BFD.
posted by phritosan at 8:17 AM on June 16, 2008


You're 23 years old. They will be plenty of time to responsible later. Go with the 3 Series.
posted by sideshow at 1:10 PM on June 16, 2008


Our car takes premium, but, my wife and I have 1 mile commutes, so, I didn't feel like it's a big deal. If there's one thing I learned from my dad, it's to always get the fast one.
posted by trbrts at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2008


I also have the issue of not having a garage at the moment. I just have a parking lot outside my apartment. I'm not worried about it being dinged by people so much. I'm just a little scared of the inclement weather issue?

Anyone else as paranoid as I am?
posted by decrescendo at 5:26 PM on June 16, 2008


If you're where it gets hot, get a light-colored car. My dark _green_ car got so hot, out in the sun, that it was painful to open the doors and sometimes the locks stuck suspiciously.
posted by amtho at 11:36 PM on June 16, 2008


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