Transposing the Matrix

userpic=matrixOn Tuesday, driving home from the North Hollywood Red Line station after spending the day judging projects at the California State Science Fair, I was rear-ended. To be specific, a 1996 Honda hit the drivers side rear of my 2006 Toyota Matrix in the far right lane of I-5 just S of Osborne, near the end of the Route 170/I-5 merge. We drove off the freeway, exchanged information, and I called for a tow because I was unsure about long-term drivability of my car. The end of the day saw me at home (pissed), and my car over at Schiros Collision in Chatsworth. Here are some photos:

Matrix Rear End DamageAs before (i.e., when my previous Honda Civic was tipped on its side), I thought the car was repairable. As before, the impact of putting low miles on a car does not offset its age, and the car was totalled. To be specific, the repair estimate on the car totals out at $6,263.17 for parts and labor (PDF),  and the KBB trade-in value maxed at $5,300 and the KBB purchase value was between $5,800 and $6,400, depending on how the condition was judged.

As before, I’ve been pissed at the inequality of it all: The person who inflicted the damage gets off with some minor repairs (his car was drivable). The innocent victim gets to replace a vehicle that was paid off with something newer, meaning the insurance proceeds won’t cover the replacement 100%. This means having car loans again, plus having higher registration costs and higher insurance due to a newer vehicle, none of which was planned for.

I have the fellow’s email, and I have the urge to vent at him, but I know it will do little good. This is the fault of the profit-driven nature of our insurance system, which seeks to minimize payouts to insureds.

As a result of all of this, we get to go car shopping. What I’m looking for is a car priced less than $24K, 2013 model year or later (ideally), certified pre-owned if used. I want a wagon or hatchback (because I haul boardgames), but I do not want an SUV. The 2006 Matrix, which this was replacing, was essentially a Toyota Carolla Hatchback. I’m used to smaller cars: the Matrix replaced the 1996 Civic Hatchback, which replaced a 1981 Nissan Stanza Hatchback.

I also wanted to ensure it would work with my iPod Classic, could support an AUX (3.5mm) input, had a rear backup camera, got gas milage equal to or better than the Matrix, and had sufficient cargo hauling capability.

The initial short list was based on recommendations from Consumers Reports, and consisted of the 2013 Toyota Prius V, 2013 Toyota Prius, 2013 Toyota Matrix, 2013 Honda Fit, and 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. Second tier possibilities were the 2013 Scion xB or the 2012 Toyota Venza.

Last night, we went to the local Toyota dealer to do some test drives. Despite the Prius/Prius V being at the top of the list, a test drive eliminated them. The Prius didn’t have enough space. The Prius V did. However, the “get up and go” had gotten up and went, and the car had no pickup. We also did not like the display and control layout. We also drove a 2013 Venza, and that was a “yes”: it is essentially a Camry Wagon. Very comfortable, very nice drive, and loads of storage. However, it lacks a backup camera (until 2015, it wasn’t standard) and has worse gas milage than the Matrix. That’s not a surprise, it has a V6 engine.

Visiting the dealer also led to one unexpected find: the 2016 Scion iM [brochure] (which will become the Toyota Corolla iB in 2017). This is the current version of the Toyota Carollla Hatchback (Aurus in Europe), which means it is a sportier Matrix equivalent. It is new, which likely means a 0% financing deal (which beats the credit union), is priced under $20K before taxes, and gets service covered for two years. It also drives like or better than the Matrix, has similar space and storage, has an Aux port, has a backup camera. In short, it is an updated Matrix. Drawbacks? Being new, there will be the new car depreciation, plus higher registration fees and insurance fees.

Over the weekend, we’ll be test driving the 2013 Subaru Impreza Hatchback. We probably won’t drive the Honda Fit — we’re familiar with the car, but it is hard to find used, and doesn’t have the storage of the Matrix Scion iB. We may also test drive the 2014 Mazda5 Grand Touring and the 2014 Mazda3 5 Door Grand Touring. One last possibility is the Kia Soul, either new or used. For new, we’ll need to see the incentives.

I’ll be glad when this process is over. I’m still pissed; my wife’s car (2002 Honda CR-V) was the next one to be replaced — and now that’s going to be pushed back until the cash flow can support additional payments and a down payment is rebuilt.



Take Me For A Ride With My Car-Car

This hasn’t been our summer for car problems. Back in June you’ll recall a number of posts about how my car (a 1999 Honda Civic DX Hatchback) was tipped on its side, resulting in sufficient damage that our insurance company totalled the car. We ended up replacing it at the beginning of July with a 2006 Toyota Matrix XR.

I think the other car was jealous.

Just before vacation, while my wife was getting on the freeway, the check engine light came on and the car died. They were able to get the car started sufficiently to get it on the tow truck, and they towed it to the closest Honda dealer (Keyes Honda, Woodland Hills). After four days of diagnosing things (because the engine computer kept giving inconsistent answers), they came up with a verdict: the car toasted a valve or piston (I don’t recall which), and they are going to have to open the head to fix it. It looks like this has happened before on CR-Vs.

This afternoon we debated whether to have the dealer repair the problem ($1400 est.), or towing it to our favorite Honda repair shop and having them do it (a diagnosis fee to Keyes+towing+$800 est.). We have more confidence in our favorite shop (experiential assurance, no EAL). However, given the diagnosis cost, towing cost, and then repair, we’re letting Keyes do it. It should be done Friday.


Kudos to AAA

Two weeks ago today, I wrote how my car had been tipped on its side by vandals. Within an hour after the police left, AAA was there to tow the car to the repair shop. Working through the AAA’s Direct Auto Repair program, by the time my wife got to the repair shop, the rental car under our coverage was waiting for her. Two days later I wrote how our insurance had assessed the damage and totalled the car. Although we originally wanted a Honda Fit, due to its scarcity and size, we settled on a Toyota Matrix XR. Using the Auto Club Buying service, we went to their recommended dealer who found us just what we were looking for, at a no-hassle $350 over invoice. We picked up the car last Wednesday. Today, two weeks to the day that my car was tipped, we received a check from the Auto Club for $8,905.33, which was the estimated replacement cost for the vehicle, less our $500 deductable. We’re still expecting just a bit more for this, as they had it down as a manual when it was an automatic.

Still, this speaks very well of AAA. Two weeks from damaged vehicle to check in hand with a completely reasonable reimbursement amount. A no-hassle replacement car purchase. Job well done, AAA.


It’s All Over But The Check

My Honda Civic has been replaced. Yesterday we went to Frontier Toyota in Valencia to pick up our new car. We purchased it through the Auto Club Buying Service, and the process was extremely smooth. Cudos should also go to Bob Corson, the Fleet/Leasing manager at Frontier, for all his help. We were in there around 2:40p, and out at 3:40p with the new car.

Bob was so kind as to take these pictures of gf_guruilla and me with the new car. Doesn’t she look cute (and the car is nice too!):


All that’s left in the car-tipping saga is (1) turning in the pink slip and getting the check for the old car; (2) finding the vandals who did this and establishing suitable and appropriate justice.

Today is the second vacation day I’m taking this week (although I’m doing a little work from home). Yesterday was running around and getting the new car. Today’s plans include running by the Auto Club to start the official insurance coverage [Update: It’s done, and only about $300 more per year], and going to the Hollywood Entertainment Museum before they close tomorrow (we tried this yesterday, but they were closed on Wednesdays).