We did it! Although not in under 3 hours...
We went over for a test drive last night and, as so often happens with the two of us (we are impulse buyers to the nth degree), we'd pretty much decided already to buy it unless we drove it and really hated it or they weren't willing to give us enough for Bill's car in trade. Of course, driving it was loads of fun and it's such a neat little car. It's a manual transmission, which is what both Bill and I were raised on but haven't owned for awhile (we got rid of our other manual when we were in LA and couldn't hack driving it in stop-and-go traffic for two hours).
We did find out, however, that it's next to impossible to buy a car in under three hours. We got there just after five and didn't drive away until 8:30. Even though we pretty much said "we'll take it, we'll pay what you're asking and we're paying in cash" (just FYI, we just took out a home equity loan - we don't normally have that kind of cash just lying around). How much simpler could it be? Still...it is just such a ridiculously slow process. Fine, it's nice customer service, but it doesn't really encourage impulse purchases (especially for those of us with small children who can't just drop everything to buy a car for 3 hours).
Anyway, we're running a tank of regular diesel right now, but as soon as that's gone, we're running straight to the biodiesel pump. I saw a great bumper sticker the other day on a truck - "This Vehicle Powered by French Fries". We found out yesterday that the diesel oil that's used in the TDI is synthetic, so we're going to be almost completely petrol-free! That is so exciting.
As we've been doing all this research on biodiesel, we've both been amazed at how little people know about it. When I first heard the word, I didn't realize exactly what it was. I figured it was a type of diesel fuel that was somehow combined with organic stuff, but was still basically a petroleum product. But 100% biodiesel is completely made from vegetable oil! No petroleum at all. Granted, most places sell a blend of biodiesel and regular diesel, so we'll likely have a 95% biodiesel blend available to us, but still. That's a huge reduction in the amount of petroleum this family will use. Plus, it gets great mileage (40+ mpg highway), which the car we traded in did not.
The biggest problem now is the lack of availability of diesel vehicles. Apparently VW was having problems with the EPA over their diesel engine, so they've stopped producing them. The one we got was on the dealership's 2nd to last shipment, and many of the cars on the last shipment have already been sold. There was no haggling on price because it's such a scarce commodity. However, Daimer-Chrysler did just introduce diesel versions of the Jeep series this year. Hopefully other auto-makers will follow suit. The diesel trucks and Jeeps don't get great mileage, but the diesel versions are MUCH better than the gas versions (20+ mpg versus 10).
Now I've started to feel guilty about my van, but the awesome and fabulous Lolly posted a link in her recent post about what her family is doing to help the environment to Terra Pass, where you can offset your vehicle emissions by helping to fund alternative energy production. So, now I can feel a little less guilty about driving my gas-guzzling minivan (although it's not really a gas guzzler - it gets nearly 30 mpg on the highway, much better than our Subaru Outback did!).
Anyway, enough about our new car. I'm off to work through a mountain of laundry. Woo-hoo!