Piston Slap: Truly a Re-volting Notion?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Jason writes:

Dear Sajeev,

This isn’t so much a Piston Slap question, but rather a “what would Sajeev do (WWSD)?”

My father recently approached me and said that he and my mother are interested in getting a pre-owned electric to replace one of their aging cars. My father drives a 2009 Hyundai Sonata GLS (w/ popular pkg) with 65k on the odometer and my mother drives a 2008 Honda Civic EX Sedan with 85k. Both cars are close in age and miles, however, the Honda bests the Hyundai in resale value, hands down. Whatever they end up selling, my dad will keep to drive as an everyday car and my mom will get the electric. My dad is adamant about selling the Hyundai due to some shortcomings like the interior build quality (dashboard makes noises during hot climate) and the fuel tank has an odd evaporation issue where it forces the car not fill properly. However, I’m more for selling the Civic because the Sonata overall is a quieter and plush car for someone his age. In the past, he has complained the Civic is too low and I see him struggle to get in and out of my stock ILX. It’s a tough decision for us because both cars were purchased brand new and if you saw them today, you’d think they qualify as certified pre-owned vehicles.

The second question is the car they intend to purchase. My mom really likes the look and shape of the Nissan Leaf, but I introduced the Chevy Volt as an alternative and she approves. Both are completely different from one another but are a few thousands a part on the certified pre-owned market. My mother has a few years left until retirement and commutes (30 miles round-trip) for work, so both cars will suit her current and future lifestyle.

I know it might sound crazy to you (and readers) to sell any Asian car in such prime of their lives to get an electric car, but my parents are aging and at the end of the day, it’s whatever makes them happy that matters to me. So which makes more sense, selling the Sonata or Civic? Leaf or Volt? Or are we crazy and just keep the set up as is?

Sajeev answers:

Let’s address the elephant in the room:

“I know it might sound crazy to you (and readers) to sell any Asian car in such prime of their lives…are we crazy and just keep the set up as is?”

Son, take it from this countrified Tex-Asian autowriter who before this Piston Slap gig was frequently (mis)cited for an Anti-GM bias: nobody thinks you’re crazy for considering a GM or Nissan electric car.

While GM made a huge mistake with those ignition barrels, Toyota’s recent gooey dashboards and Honda’s transmission bearing failures prove nobody’s perfect. I stand behind my reviews — especially that shameful 2008 Cadillac STS but even I admit purchasing decisions are now dependent on a buyer’s brand perception, styling preferences, incentives, specifications, performance numbers, etc. and not reliability/durability metrics.

So go electric, either the certified pre-owned Chevrolet Volt or similar Nissan Leaf will suffice and both have fantastic depreciation. If Mom thinks the Leaf’s range is unacceptable for her occasional need for wanderlust, the Volt is the clear winner. If not, a test-drive will help her out.

And if I’ve learned anything about aging relatives’ car preferences, let your father decide which car to sell. Both sound fine: he must come to his own conclusion about his struggles of vehicle ingress.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Emg77 Emg77 on May 09, 2018

    I bought a used 2014 Volt last year. I love the thing. The car is really fun to drive. Not sportscar fun, but for a commuter car in city driving, it’s fun. The torque is instant and it doesn’t have to shift. It’s really fast to 30 mph. It’s reasonably fast to 60, but it’s that 0-30 speed that makes it a blast to drive around town. It’s almost dead silent. It’s comfortable and it’s pretty loaded with tech for it’s age. The only things I’d really like it to have is Android Auto and blind spot monitoring, but I can deal without it. As others have mentioned, the blind spots are horrible (the stick on blind spot mirrors did the trick for me), and the A pillar makes a big blind spot to the left. I always have to take a second look when making a left across a crosswalk. What they say about depreciation is right, and it’s a major reason I bought a used Volt. I paid about $17k for a 3 year old car with 33,000 miles that original had a sticker price just North of $40,000 (Mine has every option that was available). When you consider the engineering that went into the Volt, it’s probably an even better value. The Gen 1 Volt was very overengineered and has proven to be very reliable. If you find one as a Certified Pre-owned vehicle, it comes with 12 months and 12,000 miles of bumper to bumper warranty, and the balance of a 5 year, 60,000 mile powertrain warranty and a 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the battery, electric drivetrain, and all equipment that is a part of the electric system (this include many components of the A/C and heating system, since it’s part of the battery management system too. It’s basically a used car with a 5 year warranty on most of the major equipment. The thing has been flawless for me. I can go 2 years between oil changes. Other than that, there’s basically no maintenance. My engine has about 6000 gas miles on it at this point, and 37,000 miles of electric. I’m standing at a combined 222 mpg. I’ve gone up to 4000 miles without stopping at a gas station. It costs me about $1 of electricity to drive about 40 miles and after that, I get about 37 mpg on gas. Most days I drive on just battery. I’ve put 10,000 miles on it and filled it up 3 times with about 8 gallons of gas. My 8 mile commute to work uses 2kwh, or about 20 cents of power. As a commuter car that you can fill up with gas if you need to go on a long trip, it's about perfect. I also really like the styling of the Gen 1 Volt. It's different looking than everything else on the road, but it still looks very modern. I like the 2014 and 2015 a bit better, because they stopped doing the black trunk and greenhouse and painted them body color, and the interior trim got a more subdued.

  • Pickypilot Pickypilot on Jun 07, 2018

    Have they even considered a used Tesla?

  • Charlie 78 for my ‘09 Mercury mariner. It has 850k miles on it and leaks oil. It has 9 scratches, deformed bodywork, and severely rusted frame and suspension. When you stand on the duct taped rear bumper, the suspension creaks loudly. Also it has a loud vibration and rod knock, and the driver rear window is falling out. Ps. Don’t they normally have a roof rack and display screen? Cause mine doesn’t.
  • Honda1 More disposable junk from Hyundai.
  • Analoggrotto The ORDER BOOKS in Australia have netted 300% above projection. Australia is so awesome and they are embracing the Telluride DIesel to overtake the Prado. Pentagon data, and eATPs rule the discussion, bar none. Toyota fans can go home with their sorry little turbo 4 cylinder.
  • Analoggrotto Such a loving artful tribute to TTAC's greatest godfather is much welcomed. There's a new and better PORSCHE and they are from SOUTH KOREA baby! After years of Japanese oppression, SOUTH KOREA is the TIGER of the Far EAST. We just need a modern day James Dean and that would be Rhys Millen!
  • Groza George Our roads and bridges are crumbling and increasing vehicle weight will only make bridges crumble faster. We need more infrastructure work.