Our experiment as a two car family is over…

It started in June 2002. Christine and I needed a new car. At the time I didn’t know how to drive, so we sold her Honda Civic and bought a diesel VW Jetta Wagon. That car was the most expensive item that I had ever purchased besides my house or education, so I thought I should learn how to drive it.

Learning how to drive gave me a new sense of freedom. I know that is a common reaction, but I didn’t think it would be my reaction. I didn’t care about using the car to get to work, but it gave me the option of going hiking (without Christine) or going to visit friends in Olympia or Missoula much more easily than I could in the past. The two of us shared the single car for about 6 months before I bought my own car in Feb 2003.

The funny thing is that I rarely used my own car as intended. Sure, I did drive out to Missoula or Olympia a number of times while owning it. I don’t think that I ever used it to go hiking (without Christine). I did use it for a few bike rides. Mostly it got used to get to work.

Yes, I drove to work. For a year. I did it so much that I actually sold the Jetta and bought the car that I really wanted, a VW Golf TDI.

After a year of driving to work (it was now Jan 2005) I looked back and realized that I didn’t really like driving to work. I had to deal with traffic. Sometimes it was faster than taking the bus, but only if I left really early. I missed talking to friends on the bus and having different routes every day. I missed being on my bike every day. In driving I learned a million ways to avoid SR520 (the highway between home and work) that I really didn’t need to know.

So in Jan 2005 I decided that I’d only “allow” myself to drive at most once a month. That was easy and it turned out that I drove to work about 10 times in 2005. In 2006 the number was even lower. I was getting tickets from the Seattle of City because my car never moved. I started to think about selling the car. It was a hard decision — buying this car was complicated and involved a few sleepless nights and a cross-country drive in the middle of December. It’s hard to sell something that you were so invested in acquiring. I also see the car is not being replacable — used TDI prices are just too high right now for me to justify another one.

In the first 14 weeks of 2007 my car only drove 180 miles. That is just over 10 miles per week. When Christine and I looked at this number it was obvious that the car needed to go. So last week the car went in for a detailing and was listed on craigslist. TDIs are popular (and I knew this) and it instantly got a ton of interest. The second looker was serious, had it inspected by a mechanic yesterday, and is buying it today.

I’m looking forward to going back to being a one car family.

One Comment

  1. Andy M-S says:

    Giving up a car is an interesting experience. I learned to drive just as soon as I could, so driving cars has been a part of my life for more than 33 years. That being said, I also came of age during the ”fuel crisis”/10-speed years, and have, by decision, never lived beyond walking or cycling or public transit distance of work.

    Now, back in ”89, not long after my first child was born, my spouse and I moved from Chicago to upstate NY and acquired our first car. We replaced it two years later with a brand-new Honda Civic Wagon, which was our *only* car until we had a third child, when we got a used minivan because the Honda was getting a little tight. We replaced that van when it died with a slightly newer model.

    And through all this, the Honda was my bad-weather commuting vehicle, getting an annual oil change.

    Last fall, the muffler fell off for the fourth or fifth time, and it developed a radiator leak, and…well, at 15 years, it was getting long in the tooth. And I have bike commuted to my job (save in bad weather) since moving to Wisconsin. But it was November, and bad weather would be coming…

    Well, a little checking at work showed 2 or 3 people who lived within a few blocks of me. So we gave the car to Habitat for Humanity, and for less than a month, I got rides with people. This spring I bought studded tires for my touring bike so that next year…

    Point is, we also became a 1-car family again. And we don”t really miss that second car; it takes a little more planning with 4 kids and all their destinations and one vehicle, but it’’s no big deal. And we have a LOT more garage space.

    How did human beings ever get suckered into the two-cars idea in the first place?