Monday, August 29, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac: Four Priuses (Preii?)

Four Priuses (Preii?)

Some of you were expecting the 2nd half of my Coaching Freshmen Football series. Think of what's happening as the Super Bowl half-time show--longer than normal.

Next week--Labor Day--I'm doing a special tribute blog post about my long-time friend and colleague, Owen Miller. It's a salute to all teachers.

Coaching Freshmen Football - The 2nd Half will be posted on September 12. I promise.

This is a tale of two tragedies that ended much less tragically than they might have. It might also include other musings, but I’m not sure about that part. You see, I haven’t written this post yet.

I first saw a Prius at a Science Teachers Convention. It was on display on a rotating stand. There was a Toyota rep walking along just fast enough to maintain her spot in relation with the audience. A video screen highlighted the hybrid technology.

I bought my first Prius in 2001. It was blue.

We ordered it and had to wait. We also paid a premium over the sticker price. I thought it was wonderful. About the size of an Echo, this car was “cute,” as my wife said. Try as I might, AND I TRIED HARD, I never managed 50 mpg for a tank of gas.

I saw the first revision of the Prius in a medical clinic parking lot. Whoa! That was cool looking. I sold my blue Prius to my son. It had around 90K miles on it. He drove it until the hybrid battery died.

My second Prius was a Salsa Red 2004 model. It was much bigger than the first Prius. The a/c ran off electricity, so the gas engine didn’t have to kick in at a stop sign to keep the car cool. I drove that car 600 miles/week for 38 weeks of the years 2005-2012. I finally traded it in when the cost of the catalytic converter replacement was more than the BlueBook.

When I traded in the car, it had the original brakes and hybrid battery. It also had 270,000 miles on the odometer.

Prius number 3 was a Red 2007 Touring model. It had GPS, bigger tires, a smoother ride, and an upgraded JBL sound system. I enjoyed driving it for about a year and a half. The last day I drove that car wasn’t enjoyable at all.

After 15 months of ownership and about 15,000 miles, I was driving home from my son’s house. It was HOT inland that day in San Diego. As I neared the off ramp to my house near Mission Beach and Sea World, traffic was backed up . . . to a standstill.

I braked and stopped before hitting the sedan in front of me. The car behind me was not as successful. It stopped only after crunching into my Prius and shoving my front bumper up over the back bumper of the car in front of me.

No one was hurt. The driver of the car in front of me was 15 days from clearing her last accident of her insurance, so she wanted nothing to do with reporting the accident. I did get her license and phone numbers. The car behind me had a smooshed-in front end. I doubt if she ever got the hood open without taking the car to a body shop—but it was driveable.

Because we all drove off the freeway, I figured my car just looked bad. I was wrong.

When I tried to drive away, a scraping sound and the smell of burning rubber was my clue that things were bad. The entire right rear wheel well was rubbing my right rear tire.

I called AAA. After I gave my version of the accident and provided the driver information for the chocolate Oreo cookie drivers that sandwiched my creamy white filling Prius, she said to wait for a call from an adjuster: Fred Rogers.

My immediate thought was, “Great. I get to report my accident to Mr. Rogers. I hope it’s been a wonderful day in his neighborhood.”

When he called, I repeated my story. He said he needed to ask me some questions the answers to which would determine if they were totaling my car. My car was declared totaled without an insurance eyeball gazing upon it. How cool is that?

Ultimately, we got a very fair settlement from AAA. Plus we had gap coverage through our credit union, and Carmax refunded all but 15 months payments of our extended warranty cost.

I’m now driving a Brilliant Blue 2016 Prius and looks way cooler than my other Priuses/Preii. It’s one model up from the base model.

This car is much different than any other Prius I’ve owned. The ride is smooth. Acceleration is quiet. It gets REALLY GREAT mileage. I’ve got 1100 miles on the car and I’m averaging 57.9 mpg. Check the photo below.

I hear that the future of the Prius is shaky due to "low" gas prices and cars that get 40 MPG on the highway. If the Prius line is on its way out, I'm glad I got one of the last ones.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Next Almanac: In Memory of Owen Miller - A tribute to teachers

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