Cash For Clunkers…Are we really Saving the Planet?

Wow, it’s been a busy week!  Late last week I got set up on, and I’m still trying to get products in my shop there.  Special orders have been picking up again, and the biggest event of the weekend…

We traded in our old ’94 Park Avenue clunker with a defective supercharger for a brand new ’09 Chevrolet HHR on Saturday.

Why?  It was purely a financial decision on our part.  We weren’t worried about the environment or carbon emissions.  The old car required $700 in repairs last month alone, and for the supercharger we received an estimate of about $1000. Between this past April and July alone, we spent another $700 again in repairs.  Since the car was worth $1500, we’d “totaled” it; it was time to get a new one.  We couldn’t afford the “payments!”

Do I feel green for buying a new car?  Not unless you are talking about the “green” Chevy got from me to pay for the car!

Chevy HHR

You see, environmentalists throughout the years have always stated that if you need to buy a car, it’s better to buy one used.  Simply put, buying a new car means that new resources were put into the car, and lots of energy was expended to get the resources.  So not only are you using new metals and plastics in the car, but you are mining for the ores and using energy to process and refine them into steel, and you are drilling for oils and then refining them into plastics.

Used cars require little to no additional energy on the buyer’s part.

Granted, new cars get significantly better gas mileage, and recycling practices have improved.  But the basic concept is still the same. A true environmentalist will try to reduce their footprint, and if a car is necessary, they will choose the one that allows them to have the least responsibility for the production of the vehicle.

I can’t help but think that while I will save money in gasoline, more resources were put into making that car for me than if I had bought used.  It will probably take years for my savings in emissions to catch up to the spending in production.

But in the end, this was a purely financial and emotional decision for us.  We were looking for a dependable car that wouldn’t keep leaving me and the kids stranded, while costing less than a new set of brakes or an alternator every month.  After crunching numbers and realizing that the Cash for Clunkers would allow us to buy a new car for the price of all the newer used ones, we opted for new.

From a financial standpoint, my husband is convinced that Obama and Congress should have done this in the first place, instead of bailing out automakers.

I’ve confessed my green sin.  My penance will be to keep this car until it is falling apart, just like my old one.  With any luck, it’ll be in just the right shape for when my 3.5 year old turns 16 and wants to practice driving!


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mdosborne2 on August 19, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Don’t feel bad, your old car was well…old. And you are like me…you will drive your car into the ground!!! Buying a new car every couple of year…now that is wasteful, geting a car every 10…not so much!
    did you get the blue one?


    • No, I wish! C4C has wiped out all of the lots in this area, so we got a dark gray one. Better than white or light gray, but you know how I feel about gray! But I decided if we were going to buy a new car and keep it for so long, I’d better like it, so we upgraded a little and got a sunroof. It’s nice to have a nice car! LOL


  2. […] in your pocket.  It was a rebate – a discount, basically – off a brand new car.  When we bought our Chevy back in August, it simply meant we got a better deal. But we still paid $18,000 out of pocket in the form of a […]


  3. […] gone in a moment.  I think I find more happiness in a good meal or a nice bar of chocolate than my 2009 Chevy we bought new.  I find more joy in knitting a beautiful sweater than buying the newest haute couture  style off […]


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