Car Talk: An update on Steve and looking at Leafs

Steve the Subaru Forester

On this Thanksgiving Day one of the things I am grateful for is our trusty 2007 Forester, Steve.

I last wrote about Steve a couple of years back, and in that post I tell the story of his awkward name. At the end I invited you to tell me about your rides and your cool stories about them. On this easy holiday weekend I thought I’d update you on Steve and invite you to update us all if you commented on the original post or, if not, to tell your cool car story now.

Back in 2016, and for the few years before, Steve was living the easy life. We had an apartment in the city, were walking distance to lots of stuff and he mostly got used on relaxed road trips. Life was a blissful 5-7000 miles a year.

Shortly after I wrote that post, he went in for his 120,000 mile spa treatment. Fresh plugs and filters, and all his fluids flushed and replaced right down to the differential. He is going in for the 150,000 mile version in a couple of weeks. He seems very excited.

In the spring of 2017, we took a road trip to Shamba. This was the same visit during which we, to our great surprise, bought our beach shack Kibanda. Maybe Steve knew what was coming, because his life was about to get much more active.

On arrival, I noticed a puddle of oil under his engine bay. Poor Steve had sprung a leak and, worse, he was down 2.5 quarts of oil. The poor guy only holds 4.

A new oil pressure sensor got his leak patched and we brought his oil back up to par.

Feeling bad, we treated him to new tires and struts a month later and, a month after that a nice fresh oil change at 125,000 miles. We’d been holding our breath, afraid the oil leak and low level had damaged his engine, but all seemed fine.

In the fall we returned to Wisconsin to begin sorting out this beach shack we’d bought and making sure it would survive the winter. One fine November day, I decided to check Steve’s oil level. I’m not sure why.

Steve has never used oil between his 5000 mile oil changes and I was long out of the habit of checking it. He doesn’t blow smoke and had left no further puddles on the floor, something I had begun compulsively checking.

But on this day, I did. There was none on the dipstick. This is bad. Potentially very bad. It took 2.5 quarts to bring it up to proper levels. He had 130,613 miles on the clock.

Now we check it faithfully and I have a new column in his spreadsheet just for oil additions. These days he seems to go thru about a quart every thousand miles. Sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less. The odd thing is, he is still not blowing smoke and shows no signs of further leaks. No telling where to or why it is disappearing. Maybe he is just protesting his harder, rural life. He’ll have gone 20,000 miles by the time this year is done. Quite a change from the 5-7000 he’d gotten used to.

A bit of a change for us as well. When he was racking up mileage slowly and oil tight, we figured he’d last for years. But at this pace, the old guy might be entering his final scenes. I can relate.

So what to do?

Well, we could just replace him. The newer Foresters are well regarded and that would be our choice. But we are attached to the old guy and, frankly curious as to just how long he can go.

A second, more fuel efficient, car might make sense and I have been considering one of these:

Nissan Leaf

The Leaf is an all electric car and in many ways perfect for our needs. Plus, I like the idea and simplicity of an electric car. About all they need in servicing is 7500 mile tire rotations, and the cabin air filter and brake fluid changed every few years.

With Kibanda we have a detached garage with electric and, oddly, it is on a separate meter. Each month we get a separate bill and each month we use ~$2 worth of juice. And, each month, they charge us the $18 minimum. The first $16 worth of charging the Leaf would be free. Well, not free, but paid for already and anyway. So, free.

While we are driving a lot more miles these days, being out in the middle of nowhere, these miles are being accumulated in 40-60 mile-a-day chunks. The kind of miles that would be perfect for a Leaf. The biggest knock on the early generation Leafs (leaves?) is their short range of 70-80 miles. But that, along with fairly long recharge times, is what makes them unpopular (read cheap) used cars.

So why don’t I have a Leaf already?

  • Rural WI was never a hot spot for them and they are thin on the ground around here.
  • If I find one further afield, recalling the short range and long recharge times, how do I get it efficiently home? I recoil at the prospect of paying to ship it.
  • An advantage of most older cars is that the heavy depreciation is behind them. The resale of these, as they get older and the already limited range drops, is likely to plummet. Replacement batteries are very pricy.

Of course, a Prius or similar hybrid would solve those issues; in many ways an ideal solution. Except, the idea of carting around both a gas engine and electric motors just runs against my simple grain. If I’m going without gas, I’d like the full electric experience.

So keep running Steve hard and replace him when the end is near, or give him a break and let a younger more efficient electric companion come to his aid?

Your thoughts on this and stories of your own vehicle(s) are welcome.

If you are in a part of the world that celebrates this holiday…

Happy Thanksgiving!


Update on Steve:

From the comments below, turns out Dave’s assessment…

“…the head gaskets develop leaks at the bottom edge of the cylinders. Depending on the advancement of the leak, oil and/or coolant will leak out of the engine, into the combustion chamber where it’s burned off…”

…was exactly the problem. The shop called Friday to say they’d found the leaking gasket and oil on the plugs on that side.

New gaskets going on both sides and Steve should be good to go, with hopefully no long-term damage done. 🙂


An ode to the early gen Foresters


Not sure why this should surprise me, but many of the comments so far have been about the Leaf from those who own one. That’s great and, as I am considering buying one myself, it leads me to ask the following questions:

  • What specifically should I look for when checking out a used Leaf?
  • Are there any known trouble spots?
  • Any years or models to avoid? To seek out?
  • How long in the real world can you expect the battery to last?
  • Is it age or mileage that does it in?
  • Is a low mileage older model better than a high miliage newer one?
  • When it fails is it just a slow slide into longer charge times and shorter range, or something else?
  • Anything else I should know but am not smart enough to ask?

Also, I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who has a Leaf with very high mileage.



Doug Nordman of The Military Guide, Jane and myself were interviewed for this episode of the What’s Up Next podcast:

How to Raise Financially Responsible Children


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  1. Accidental FIRE says

    Hmmm… I say you see how long Steve can go. He seems like a stand-up dude. Of course, if he starts vacuuming more and more money out of your wallet then you might have to call uncle. But something tells me he’s not done yet.

    I had a Ford Focus wagon that had a similar story, and I hesitated to get the engine mounts replaced when she had 125k on her. She gave me quite a few more years of faithful service.

    Long live Steve 🙂

      • vorlic says

        Agree. I’m not so sure about the electric car thing. People say they’re better for the environment, but I don’t get that either – essentially the tailpipe is just really long. And batteries are nasty and heavy and energy density is very very low compared to gasoline. ICE is tried, true and tested. Oil is with us for a long time to come, and our engines are getting really efficient.

        Our 2003 plate Volvo diesel rolls on… 200,000 miles. Still get 36mpg, more on motorway trips to France. Solid as a rock. Bit o’ rust on the left front arch. We have recently christened it a he, named Vernon. Vernon the Volvo.

        My pushbike commutes me every day of the year.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Yeah, figuring out what is actually environmentally best is more complex than it might appear.

          I’ve seen analysis that indicated an already existing used Hummer, the poster child for environmental callousness, was less impactful than a new Prius once the materials in and manufacturing of the new car were accounted for.

          Still, I love the sheer simplicity of electric cars and I am talking about buying an existing one.

          And for you, the more electrics there are the cheaper diesel fuel for Vernon will become. 🙂

          • Matt says

            The analysis that shows the Hummer uses less resources than the Prius is garbage (assuming you’re talking about the one from CNW Marketing Research). I remember reading it when it came out years ago and being blown away by all its many flaws.

            The main problem is that it overprices research and development for new vehicles by only spreading the R&D cost across vehicles already built and not accounting for future ones. Because relatively few Priuses had been built when it was published it made it look like each had an insanely high R&D cost. CNW reran their research one year later in 2008 and found that the Prius’ cost per mile had dropped 23.54%, I’m sure if they reran it again today after so many Priuses have been made it would be much lower. This to me is reason enough to ignore it, if we followed the principles of this “study” we’d never research anything new and still be riding horses.

            Another problem with it is that it overpriced the cost of recycling. This is something that is happening with solar panels right now. Because there are relatively few panels reaching the end of their life there is not a huge market for recycling them, but when the waste stream picks up efficiency of scale will kick in and recycling costs will go way down. The same has proven true of old Prius batteries, with something like 90% of all prius batteries getting recycled by Toyota.

            The final issue is that it made somewhat random estimations of how many miles different vehicles would be driven before they failed. It claimed that Hummers would average over 300k miles over their lives while Priuses would only average something like 109k. If you apply this same reasoning to a car like a Tesla 3, whose motors have lasted for over 1 million miles in testing then you’ll start to see huge cost reductions.

      • Janna says

        How about having the engine rebuilt? We have a 2002 Forester, got the engine rebuilt 2-3 years ago, cost a lot but we’re still coming out ahead. I drove it 2000 miles this week!

          • Eileen says

            I’m not Janna, but I’ve had a car engine replaced. My 2008 Mazda3 seized up when my son drove it back from college late one night and didn’t realize it was overheating. Anyway, I didn’t want to replace the car, so I had them put in a used engine for $2900. I went from an engine with 140k to one with 93k. We’re only at around 18months post change, but no issues so far. We’re glad we made that choice.

          • jlcollinsnh says

            Thanks Eileen!

            I think, short of major rust, with enough commitment you can keep a car going almost forever. 🙂

        • Nathan @ Life Before Budget says

          Another option would be to just buy a used car with a rebuilt or salvage title. I have bought a few of these that I ran for approximately 100k miles each. As a matter of fact, I am still driving one today. Buying a car with a rebuilt title seems to save me around $4-5k each time that I do it.

  2. Meghan says

    Ollie and I just bought a 2013 Leaf on Monday! So far, we absolutely love it. It replaced my 2006 Civic that I bought new, right out of college. The Civic only had 132,000 miles on it, and I would have kept it for another 100k, but it was a 2-door and with Jack getting bigger every day, it has been getting harder and harder to cram his car seat back there.

    Ollie and I both have short commutes, and my school just installed 2 free charging stations, so I can charge at work. Massachusetts is also incredibly EV-friendly, so we have a quick charge within a mile of our house, plus less than a mile from Ollie’s school. The MassPike also has quick chargers at every rest stop.

    I read a ton about the Leaf in the past few weeks, and test drove three before deciding on one. I also happened to look for used ones near my parents in Crystal Lake out of pure curiosity – there’s a good used market in Chicago. If you can’t find one close to Kibanda, I’d say it’s totally worth getting one in Chicago and driving it back up. PlugShare shows plenty of chargers between you and the Chicago area, including several quick chargers in Milwaukee.

    I originally looked at a 2012 SV (so, 84 mile range and no quick charge). Ultimately we decided on a 2013 SL which has the quick charge. I think we could have done without it, but the quick charge will improve resale and give us more flexibility on who takes what vehicle each day.

    I say go for it! All best to you and Jane 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Meghan…

      Great to hear from you and regards to Ollie!

      Very cool you just bought a Leaf. Couple of dumb questions:

      –What is PlugShare?
      –What is the actual range on your 2013 and how many battery bars are left on it?
      –How long does it really take to charge?

      Depending on where in Chicago we found one, it could easily take two charging stops to get it up here. And that’s assuming it is fully charged and ready to go.

      • Janet says

        I can answer some of these. I have a 2013 LEAF SV and live in Wisconsin. is a website that lists public chargers. EV owners that are willing can input their private charger location to make it available for others. Very handy to find if chargers are available on desired route.

        My 2013 SV has 11 bars left. During summer and city-only driving, I can get 80-90 miles on a charge. Highway driving in summer gives me about 60 miles. During winter, the range takes a BIG hit. I may get as low as 30-40 miles.

        The 2013 takes 4.5 hours to get a full charge on a 240V outlet or level 2 charger. A 110V outlet will take 21 hours to charge from 0% to 100%. There are level 3 chargers in Madison and Milwaukee, and a new one near the MREA site in Custer, that charge at 400V and can charge the LEAF in 30 minutes. Newer LEAFs with bigger batteries may take longer but they also have faster chargers.

      • Meghan says

        Janet pretty much covered PlugShare and the charging times. I have definitely read about the battery taking a big hit during the cold, however my understanding is that they bounce back just fine. The real concern would be extreme heat, which caused permanent degradation issues in places like Phoenix. 99% of the time we’d be driving no more than 15 miles a day, so the Leaf seemed like it wouldn’t really impact our lifestyle much.

        I hear you that it would take one or two charges to get a car up from Chicago. My outlook is that if I can save $1000 or so, or have a better selection of vehicles, then it’s worth a day or two’s drive with leisurely stops along the way to charge. I actually drove all the way down to New Haven CT to test drive one, and would have had to stop to charge to bring it home. But I wasn’t happy with their price negotiations.

        Our 2013 has 40k miles on it, and 11 of 12 bars on the battery. Range seems highly dependent on driving style – with the battery fully charged at the dealership, it only showed 60 miles of range. But that *immediately* started jumping up when I turned off the climate control and began driving. The previous owner must have been doing a lot of highway driving or something. I’m already a bit of a hypermiler, so with that plus the Leaf’s built in eco-assist features I’m hoping to get it back up around 80.

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Thanks Janet and Meghan…

        …very helpful!

        Especially about the effects of the cold weather. Not too concerned about the desert heat around here. 🙂

        I also checked out the PlugShare site. Feels very cumbersome to use, but perhaps it gets better as you get used to it?

        • Karl Fisch says

          Keep in mind you are typically using PlugShare from your phone, which knows your location and shows you the charging stations near you.

          You can also just use google maps and search for “ev charging stations”…

      • Amy K says

        Meghan and Janet gave you good advice.

        My Experience: I just replaced my 2012 Leaf with a 2019 Leaf. At 72,000 miles and 7 years since manufacture the dash said she had just dropped to 8 battery bars. My commute is 18 miles each way. On very cold (below 0 F) days I would not have been able to make my commute without charging somewhere along the way. In temperate weather (40-70F) she would probably have gone 60 miles if you milked it. As the battery gets older the regeneration is decreased, and I was starting to notice it. There was a thread on that I read yesterday that another driver had dropped to 7 bars and it seemed there was very little regeneration available; mainly using the friction brakes.

        That’s a 2012, and from what I can tell things improved quite a bit in 2013, 2014, and 2015. If you can get a used 2015, preferably a higher trim level with a heat pump, I think you will be very happy with it as a second car. Steve can ferry you around on long trips and frigid days (or stay home!) and you’ll have smooth, quiet, inexpensive transport the rest of the time.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Thanks for sharing your experience, Amy.

          Seems like 2015 is a sweet spot for these, especially for our planned use.

  3. wendy says

    Go Steve, go Steve!
    Since you have sufficient money to buy whatever car suits you, I think it’s a matter of safety and practicality… if Steve fails somewhere in your normal life travels, will it cause a major issue for you? Stuck somewhere out in the wilds of WI in a snowstorm? (sort of kidding, love WI, but being stuck in a dead car in a snowstorm is no fun)
    Annoyance is one thing, but at what point (going into winter) is it just really not worth it…
    On the other hand, it would be a fun game to see how long you could nurse him along… as long as that’s a game you want to spend time on.

    On your previous post, I had written about giving my 2002 Forester with 100k to my brother… he had it up until May this year when it threw a rod and destroyed the engine around 150k. So it lasted 16 years or so… not sure if the engine failed due to a less than attentive maintenance mindset from him or if it was just something wrong in the engine. Instead of dropping $5500 on a new engine (everything else in the car was fine and/or had recently had maintenance), he sold it for $500 and got a lease car.
    If we had mechanic friends or not been in CA, an engine probably would have been less expensive and worth it to do, but it was his car and his choice.
    My current 2013 Forester is chugging along with maybe 38k on it. Biggest unscheduled maintenance item I’ve had so far was the driver side visor failing (the pin sheared or something, it fell out!)

    Best wishes to you and the family this Thanksgiving!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Go Steve Go, indeed!

      Yeah, a failure would be a real bummer even in the best of circumstances. Let alone in the dead of night during a blinding snow storm.

      We do keep Steve well maintained, but with the oil having run down that low sudden engine failure is a concern.

      In my original post I mentioned giving our ’93 Accord to a friend in NM. Around 120k it blew out a seal and dumped all its oil. My wife noticed the black streak on the road behind her and pulled over, very likely saving the engine.

      When we passed it on, it had 150k and my pal ran it up to just under 200k over five years. But then the engine blew.

      As in your case, I can’t be sure if it received the same care as with us but it also seems likely that oil dump shortened the engine’s life.

      Who knows how long Steve has to go? 😉

  4. John Casey says

    I’ve recently been contemplating a Forester or Outback for my vehicle of choice once I hit my own version of FI (thank you JL Collins, Dave Ramsey, Mr Money Moustache, Paula Pant, Mike & Lauren, and of course Jack Bogle!). Of course it will be paid for in cash and without debt.

    That being said I’d get a used 2017/2018 Forester with under 20,00o miles on it and call it a day, or more likely 7+ years as the car should suffice that long @ 20,000 miles per year usage rate. Seems like Steve did what he was supposed to do and so did you. Keep it simple and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences and for taking the time to write The Simple Path to Wealth. I just finished wrapping a copy for my nephew for Christmas along with a little cash. Time will tell if he can figure out which gift is more valuable. Thanks again!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi John…

      We’ve loved our Forester and would replace it with another if we decide to just have one car.

      Thanks for the kind words on my book and for gifting it to your nephew. Hope he reads and benefits from it. 🙂

      If you haven’t already, and if you are so inclined, please leave a 5-star review on Amazon for it.

  5. Kevin says

    I’ve owned a 2011 Leaf for just over a year and mostly love it. Paid $7000 cash. It gets about 60 miles but that’s enough to get me to work and back, plus a few side trips. Drives easy and has all the amenities.

    I could replace the battery for about $5000 and the total cost would still be cheaper than a new car. That would bring the range up to 100 or so.

    My wife has a gas car so we use that for long trips. Swapping cars for the day if necessary. Works well.

  6. Elmar says

    Tesla Model 3 Mid Range RWD would be great too. Great performance and range and low/no maintenance. Over-the-air updates that continously make the car better. Tesla battery packs are still over 80% capacity at 800tsd miles so I expect them to hold their value quite well. If Steve can hold out for another 1-2 years used model 3 might will be available. 34k new. My regards to Steve!

    • vorlic says

      But will Tesla be around for much longer? Have you seen their debt levels? They have never made an annual GAAP profit…

      They pulled a lot of tricks to show a profit 2018Q3, mark my words.

      Concurrent investigations on various things by DOJ, SEC, OSHA…

      And I believe Elon Musk is a horrible piece of work.

      Don’t buy a Tesla, JL.

      • jlcollinsnh says

        I confess, I don’t follow Tesla.

        But I may have a chance to have lunch with Elon Musk one of these days. One of our Chautauqua attendees knows him.

        I can’t help but be impressed by the scope of his vision and his audacity in creating “big goal” companies.

        What makes him “a horrible piece of work”?

        • vorlic says

          Uff, how long have you got?! I might start with his threatening of Lawrence Fossi, Martin Tripp, Vern Unsworth… Documented cases of very nasty behaviour. It is happening more and more. Thing is, Mr Collins, Tesla is structurally bankrupt, and has not managed to make money (quite the opposite, its an OPM furnace), even with a complete lack of competition, very favourable government benefits in the form of ZEV and GHG credits, tax credits for the richest people to buy Tesla toys, a fawning fanbase for whom Elon can do no wrong, an adoring media loving the traffic which the idea of man-made climate change creates…

          The other car companies have not bothered to do electric cars because they cannot make money from them. The only reason some do make a small number is because they are so-called “compliance cars” – either they have to buy ZEV credits to “offset” their pollutin’ ways, or they have to make and sell a certain percentage of “green” cars for themselves. Some are chosing to experiment. I could easily go on. Kids to put to bed right now!

          I think Musk will turn out to be worse than Jeff Skilling…

      • Carl says

        vorlic, I’d also like to know more about your beef with Musk. He’s a bit crazy and a megalomaniac, but I don’t think electric vehicles would have the tailwinds they do now without Tesla. Is there a major auto manufacturer that isn’t working on an electric?

      • Matt says

        What’s the real worry about Tesla staying solvent. There are so many Tesla’s out there right now that if they went out of business another company would be formed to handle service. Then again they don’t need much service once all the poor manufacturing issues are cleaned up after the first few years. Maybe the supercharger network would start charging instead of being free?

        I think you buy a used Tesla S before any other car costing 40k and up. If J doesn’t want to spend 40k on a car (perfectly reasonable) then an 8k used Leaf would fit the bill for him. Just get it shipped to your home on a flatbed.

        If you really hate Tesla and want more range than a Leaf then a Bolt might be a good choice. Still can’t really road trip with it, but can roam pretty dang far from your house with it’s 200+ mile battery.

        Finally, you could try and stall a couple years. Lots of companies have announced new electric cars coming out 2020 and beyond. I’m personally holding out for an electric VW microbus, but we’ll see if I can last.

        • vorlic says

          Hi Matt, pleased to meet you here!

          I will be the first to go electric if and when the technology can stand on its own two feet.

          I personally don’t hate Tesla. I love the look of the Model S, and I have absolutely no doubt it’s a blast to drive.

          I don’t hate Elon either. I have no reason to hate him. Lawrence Fossi and others do have very good reason.

          I stumbled on Tesla and couldn’t understand how it managed to exist. The more I dig into their financials and the more I read about Elon Musk, the more I wish I had never started.

          • Carl says

            “Lawrence Fossi and others do have very good reason.”

            I’d be curious to know more about Fossi and some of these other folks who you infer Musk has crossed. I tried to research Fossi myself and from what I can find, he seems to be someone associated with the oil industry, hardly an impartial critic:

            Now, it does look like Musk shut this guy down for being critical of Tesla. That is childish and Musk should just step back and let his work speak for himself.

            More than Musk, I don’t share your pessimistic view of electric motivation. Sure, the technology costs more now, but so does everything in the early stages. It will scale up soon and initial costs will be comparable to dino-juice burning counterparts. What won’t be comparable is how much cheaper electric cars are to own. Compare an electric motor to a fuel burning engine. The latter looks like a Rube Goldberg machine in comparison.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          I’ve looked at some ads for Tesla S models and they can be had for 35-40.

          But they are too dang big for our needs.

          • Karl Fisch says

            Curious if you could define your “needs” a bit more. I know you did in the original post, but this comment seemed to indicate a bit more. I’m also wondering if this comment indicates you would be okay with 35-40 if the Model S wasn’t so big?

          • jlcollinsnh says

            That’s a bit of an issue, Karl…

            ..lots of ways we could go.

            But, realistically, we are most likely to replace Steve with a newer Forester or add a second car. Since I’d like to experience owning an EV and I don’t like tying up cash in cars, a Leaf or Bolt seem most likely.

          • Karl Fisch says

            If you do end up going with a Leaf or other plug-in, see if your utility company offers time-of-use-pricing. Most EVs can be programmed to charge in the middle of the night. With time-of-use pricing, that will save you money and it’s better for the grid (and therefore better for the environment).

      • isip says

        (Hi isip… I have taken the liberty of editing your comment a bit as you make some interesting points. If you prefer, I’ll take it down. Thanks. JL)

        Tesla is not turning a profit since they are investing their revenue back into the company. This is the same playbook from Amazon, and I think they turned out just fine.

        Tesla is reinvesting in the Worldwide Supercharger Network, with over 11,500 superchargers world-wide. They are also readying production of Model Y, Semi, and their 2nd Roadster.

        Don’t forget about Tesla’s energy storage division. Hello Australia. Systems are back-ordered.

        Try the “Now you Know” Youtube channel for more.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Teslas are very intriguing and at times I think I should just buy one. But I can’t bring myself to pay that much and more recently there have been reports of less than stellar reliability.

      Still, a couple of years down the line those may be an option and the recharging infrastructure should only get better.

      As Wendy says:
      “Go Steve, go!”

      • Elmar says

        Actually reliability is much higher then in ICEs. Their overall customer satisfaction is through the roof. Bear in mind that it is disrupting many industries and that you get a lot of hate propaganda (see above).

        They are now rolling out their mobile service where a Tesla guy comes to you to fix your car. Together with a much better safety rating and autopilot to have an extra 8 eyes on the road I think it is just a different animal.

        I find it hard to wrap my head around on how long such a car will last. This is a drivetrain after 1m miles:

        I run my own companies and business-leasing is heavily subsidised in Germany – so I usually get new cars every 3 years. Tesla makes me rethink it all as one car will last decades without much attention.


        • jlcollinsnh says

          That’s the advantage of simplicity I’d guess.

          Battery life and the diminishing range and performance as it ages seems to be the main issue.

          One nice thing about an ICE is that it performs pretty much the same at the end as at the beginning.

          Maybe I should look at used Teslas…

          • El says

            Actually, it seems like the reverse is true for Tesla even opposed to even other e-cars:

            ICEs also loose power but at a minimal level. On the other hand Tesla batt packs outlast several ICEs life times without degrading to noticeable degree – according to the data. That is what I meant when I said that I find it hard to wrap my head around this. On Model 3 packs they offer at 70% retention warranty … my I guess is that they now simply do this because they know that its never going to drop below this anyway.

          • Karl Fisch says

            The problem with used Teslas (for you) is the price – not going to be any low-priced ones. For most folks looking at Teslas, a new Model 3 (if you can take advantage of the tax incentive) is the better deal (unless you need the bigger S or the SUV X).

            I echo what Elmar says. If you just pay casual attention to the news around Tesla you get a very misleading impression. They are safer (the Model 3 is the safest car *ever* tested by NHTSA), more reliable, and actually get better over time because of over-the-air software updates. There is very minor battery degradation over time, so little that it really is a non-factor unless you have a daily commute that is right at the limit of the battery’s range when new. (And, if you have a 220 – 310 mile commute, well, never mind). An EV with a temperature-controlled battery (like Teslas and pretty much everything except the Leafs) is going to perform better over time when compared to an ICE car.

          • Amy says

            Leafs do have the worst batteries of all EVs! Lithium Ion cooled batteries are much more reliable over time (don’t ask me what that means, but it is what I have learned after doing my research). I just bought a 2014 Fiat 500e for less than $6k. It gets 70-110 miles per charge dependent on weather and climate control use. EVs with batteries that don’t degrade hold their value much better than Leafs. Also I think the Leaf is pretty dorky looking and my Fiat (Frank) is super cute.

          • jlcollinsnh says

            I didn’t even know Fiat made a 500e.

            Sounds like you got a steal on yours. Of the very few within 200 miles of me, the cheapest is a 2013 with 35K @ $8500.

            Several years age I rented a gas 500 and it was a blast. Surprisingly rooming inside, at least in the front. So much so, I was always a little shocked at how tiny it was walking up to it.

        • vorlic says

          Hi Elmar, there is no hate propaganda from me, really there isn’t. See my other responses above.

          Tesla isn’t disrupting anything.

          All the best.

          Time will tell.

  7. Trever Kudrna says

    We leased a 2015 Leaf 3 years ago. I think it was a great car if you need something to run day to day errands close to home. It even has timers you can set if you want it to warm the cabin before you leave in the morning. For us, we used it for running kids to their events, going to lunch and general errands. We averaged about 40 miles per day.

    For the first 6 months we used the 120v trickle charger that came with the car. It was more than sufficient. We plugged in at night, and it was ready to go in the morning. One of my friends gave me a 220v charger they didn’t need any longer and we have used it the rest of the time. We just gave the car back a couple weeks ago, and after 3 years, I still enjoyed driving it every day. Not having to stop at the gas station was nice too! For what its worth, we didn’t even notice a change in our electric bill. We live in the pacific northwest and have fairly cheap power anyway.

    My wife wants an suv, and I have found that I hate not having a truck, so unfortunately we are not getting a new leaf, but I really did enjoy driving it.

    I would recommend one if you think the size suits your needs.

    Thanks for you site. Its great, and I recommend it to everyone I get into financial discussions with.

      • Trever says

        I don’t remember exactly. It was Nov of 2014, there was a 7500 federal tax credit they took off, I believe it was on sale as well due to end of model year.

        I do remember our lease payment was less than what I was spending on gas per month for the Ram truck I drove prior to that.

        I understand the newer ones are even nicer than the original and have better range. That being said, highway miles tick off the range way quicker than what you expect, while city driving you get better than expected. The regen braking was easy to get used to also, rarely necessary to use the brake. Electric is great in terms of quietness. After a week or two, gas engines seem barbaric. I would be tempted to look at a Tesla model 3 next time as well.

  8. Roberto says

    Happy thanksgiving to you and thanks for the entertaining post. There is one thing I know for sure, when you finally decide to sell Steve, if the phone is not ringing that will be me :-). On a more serious note, that’s a tough choice, we have a faithful (unnamed) 2005 Honda Jazz that is practically new at 80,000 miles, there are no plans to replace her (it?); but if and when the time comes, my opinion is that electric should be the best option. I am also not against hybrid, maybe something simple like just not sure if coupe or roadster…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      There was an i8 parked at our hotel entrance in Greece this past Chautauqua. A bit small for me. 🙂

      Not sure what I would do with Steve if we decide to move on. Maybe find someone to give him to?

  9. Clayton Patten says

    I am longing for that day in the future when my wife and I have just one car. I’m down from 6 to 5 currently as my oldest daughter just bought the 2010 civic off of us. She is on the road to FI as her boyfriend just bought a Tesla 3 and her girlfriend just bought a Tesla X. Hope he comes around, nice guy. She commutes with both of them and really feels bad when it’s her turn to drive. Other kids drive my 2002 Accord Coupe and 2008 Accord Coupe both V6 gas hogs. I kept the old family van, a 2003 Honda Odyssey with 185k miles, it works great for dogs and carrying stuff. My mom stopped driving so I use her 2006 Ford Fusion when I run errands for her, another V6 gas hog but she pay’s for gas and maintenance.

    My favorite car is my wife’s 2014 Honda Accord Sport because with conservative use of the accelerator and brakes it gets 40 mpg. I get in about 6000 miles a year on my bikes and drive about 3000 miles a year. Can’t wait to get rid of a few cars and a few bikes too for that matter.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      5 cars? Yikes. Tracking, and paying for, the maintenance alone would drive me nuts.

      Too bad you don’t have a Leaf in your fleet to pass on to me. 🙂

  10. Karl Fisch says

    Whether you go electric (or plug-in hybrid) depends on how much you want to spend. If you are truly considering a new Forester (as opposed to something used and less expensive), I would definitely recommend considering electric. If it’s going to be a second car and you don’t need it for extended road trips, a Leaf is great. Particularly the new ones with greater range. Keep in mind if you buy new you’ll get $7500 back in Federal tax credits (assuming you have at least $7500 in fed tax liability). Is Wisconsin where you pay state taxes? Doesn’t look like they have a state incentive, but if you legally reside somewhere else be sure to check (in Colorado we get an additional $5k)

    If you want the option for road trips and want all electric, then Tesla Model 3 is the way to go. Will definitely cost more, but if you order in the next week you’ll still get the $7500 (will drop down to $3750 on January 1). With the SuperCharger network, p,us destination chargers and other non-Tesla chargers, road trips are truly not a problem. (And, of course, road trips are typically a small percentage of your use). PlugShare is a free app (and website) that lists charging stations from everyone, not just Tesla.

    If you want road trip capability but don’t want to pay for the Tesla, consider the Chevy Bolt. Still the $7500 fed tax incentive and still great range, but you lose the fast charging capability that you get with the Tesla.

    Understand the philosophical objection, but would also strongly suggest looking at Chevy Volt and Honda Clarity plug-in hybrids. 50+ miles all electric, then gas engine kicks in. Both get the $7500 fed tax incentive as well.

    TCO On all of these is also much lower so take that into account when looking at initial price.

    Happy to talk with you via phone or email if you’d like. I’m reasonably knowledgeable of the pros and cons (and own a 2006 hybrid Prius, a 2013 plug-in hybrid Volt, and a 2018 Tesla Model 3).

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Karl…

      ..for all the info. Very helpful.

      The motivation in looking at the Leaf is to keep Steve going and to experience an electric vehicle.

      If we can’t find one or the shortcomings are too much, we may look at a Bolt or Prius.

      If we are only going to have one, it will be another Forester. For now, at least 😉

      • Karl Fisch says

        Understood. If you’re looking at used Leaf’s, you might also consider looking at used Volts. Two years ago we bought a low mileage, used 2013 Volt for about $13,000. So far we’ve driven it a little over 12,000 miles and used 12.4 gallons of gas. And most of that is because it forces you to use the gas engine after a while so the gas doesn’t get stale. The 2010-15 Volts only get about 35 miles on pure electric, so for your use case you probably would want to look for a 2016 to get the 53 miles on pure electric.

        • jlcollinsnh says

          “…forces you to use the gas engine after a while so the gas doesn’t get stale.”

          That’s pretty cool. I had wondered about the stale gas issue.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Kane…

      …for sharing those links.

      I have seen them. In fact, they were what got me thinking about a Leaf. 🙂

  11. jlcollinsnh says

    Not sure why this should surprise me, but many of the comments so far have been about the Leaf from those who own one. That’s great and, as I am considering buying one myself, it leads me to ask the following questions:

    –What specifically should I look for when checking out a used Leaf?
    –Are there any known trouble spots?
    –Any years or models to avoid? To seek out?
    –How long in the real world can you expect the battery to last?
    –Is it age or mileage that does it in?
    –Is a low mileage old model better than a high miliage newer one?
    –When it fails is it just a slow slide into longer charge times and shorter range, or something else?
    –Anything else I should know but am not smart enough to ask?

    Also, I’d be very interested in hearing from anyone who has a Leaf with very high mileage. 


    • Joshua Pritt says

      We bought a 2013 leaf and love it. It has about 50,000 miles. I would recommend anything 2013 and later since they have most of the bugs worked out and better capacity batteries. The quick charge has been over rated for most circumstances. I am a third owner and since all of the cars owners have used slow charging I still have 11 of 12bars. Beware of cars with low battery life available remaining. As the battery degrades it simply denies you the ability to get as much juice (range) but as a positive the charging time would be lower!

      One thing that does grind my gears is that Nissan wants me to pay $250 to upgrade the TeleCommunications Unit so that I can control and monitor the car via the Nissan App. In 2013 and earlier models they used 2g which is now obsolete.

      Another random whiny thing to note is that sometimes the car conflicts itself. If you charge on a timer there is a separate option to limit charging to 80% for optimized battery life. BUT there is a separate option to limit normal charging to 80% that doesn’t over ride the charger timer max charge setting.

      Hands down I love the car and can’t wait to see the tech continue to advance.

    • Paul says

      I’m in Wisconsin, and have a 2013 Leaf SV that we bought used in April 2017. We love it.

      For those curious about the Leaf, I tell people that it is a great Second Car.

      Our Leaf is our primary grocery-getter, around town car, and we use it for all our trips to the next town over (about 20 miles one-way, at mostly interstate speed). So we can get there and back on a full charge, with about 30% left when we get home. Perfect.

      It is our daughter’s primary college commuter car (same commute as above, 40 miles round trip at highway speed) and has saved her a fair bit in fuel costs.

      For us to charge the battery costs $1.50 to $2.00, give or take, and usually less because we never run it to empty.

      The longest trip that we regularly take in our Leaf is a 50 mile trip (one-way) which is primarily at interstate speeds, and it takes the battery down to about 18%.

      The only reason we even attempt this trip is because we know we will be in that town for 2.5 to 3 hours, which gives us enough time to charge to 100% in order to get home. Level 2 charging still isn’t that fast.

      (The only reason we tried this trip in the first place is because I’m crazy. 🙂 We haven’t made this trip in winter yet, due to reduced range in the Wisconsin winter. I’m nervous about trying it, but probably will anyway.)

      To answer your questions above:

      –What specifically should I look for when checking out a used Leaf?
      …. Look at the dashboard with the car turned “on.” The battery bars on the right will be at 12 (8 white, 4 red) if it has all of its bars. However, the battery could be as low as 86% of original capacity, and still show 12 bars. (I think it drops its first bar at 85%) Your best bet is to use the LeafSpy App, with a supported OBDII bluetooth dongle, which lets the app talk to the Leaf’s computer and show you the exact battery capacity. My 2013 Leaf is at around 87% and has lived its life in the upper midwest. I haven’t lost much capacity at all in the past 19 months, but it is still going down a bit.
      … Look for other standard stuff you’d check when buying a car, did the owner take care of it, any strange wear on the tires, etc. There really isn’t that much to maintain. Even the brakes don’t wear as fast, since “regen” assists the car in slowing down at stop lights and in traffic.

      –Are there any known trouble spots?
      … If your Leaf lived its life in a hot climate (Arizona, Florida) the battery will have taken a beating, as the Leaf does not have active thermal management to cool the battery. (Tesla, Chevy *do*) This can accelerate battery degradation.
      … This isn’t super common, but my heater doesn’t work well at all. I’ve had it worked on but I suspect the ceramic heater has failed.
      … The stock tires are junk, so be prepared to replace them before 30,000 miles. I put on Nokian Entyre 2.0 for summer, and Hakkapeliitta’s for Wisconsin winters.

      –Any years or models to avoid? To seek out?
      … Avoid anything older than Sept 2013. Supposedly Nissan changed the battery chemistry that year, to help with the battery degradation in hot climates. Mine is from November, 2013, and I specifically checked that when shopping.
      … SV and SL models have a heat pump, which is a little more efficient for heating the cabin. They also have creature comforts like heated seats and steering wheel, but that might be more common on the new S models.

      –How long in the real world can you expect the battery to last?
      … Nobody knows. My Leaf is 5 years old, we drive it like we stole it, and we have around 87% of battery capacity. It suits our needs, and will for some time. Some owners of 2011 and 2012 models got new batteries under warranty due to degradation, but I haven’t heard many stories of 2013 owners. And that warranty period is likely expired now anyway.

      –Is it age or mileage that does it in?
      … More mileage = more wear on the battery. See above. A hot climate does it in. And, supposedly lots of Quick Charges (Level 3). Nissan recommends Level 2 charging (240 volt) for maximum battery happiness. It’s OK to charge at 120 volt, but that takes forever. But perfectly fine if you plug in at night, and make shorter trips. Quick charges are fine for longer trips, but you don’t want that to be your primary charging method if you can help it. Most folks charge at home anyway.

      –Is a low mileage old model better than a high miliage newer one?
      … Good question. Advantage of a newer model (2016) is that some have a larger 30kW battery, as opposed to the original 24kW battery. MMM has the 30kW version iirc… gives you a little more range. But I wouldn’t avoid an older 2014 or 2013 with low miles, as long as the battery seems “healthy” according to LeafSpy.

      –When it fails is it just a slow slide into longer charge times and shorter range, or something else?
      … Shorter range. Charge times aren’t really an issue unless you try to make multiple trips in a day “at capacity.” Treat it like your cell phone (charge it at night) and you’re good to go every morning.
      … Note, we have had marathon sessions where the kid took it to school, charged it from 30% when she got home, did our 50 mile trip, charged for 3 hours there and drove the 50 miles home, and then charged it overnight for the kid to use it again in the morning. We really do like this car, but you have to plan if you want to use it like this. 🙂

      –Anything else I should know but am not smart enough to ask?
      … Take some time to think about why you would want an electric car.
      … to save money on fuel? or maintenance costs (oil changes, spark plugs, cooling system, water pumps, brakes)?
      … no need to take long road trips? (or if you do, then you already have a gasoline vehicle for those trips)
      … Save the environment? or just excited about the tech? (that was me, and to save on fuel)

      EV’s are great. If money were no object, I’d buy a Tesla for the range, existing charging infrastructure for road trips, safety, and to be on the cutting edge.

      Since money *is* an object, we bought a used Leaf (around US $8,000); we know how far we regularly need to drive, and plan our trips based on the range of the Leaf; charge at home, which is inexpensive), and are still (sort-of) on the cutting edge. And we took a long time to make sure that the Leaf would fit our needs, before seriously shopping.

      We’ve saved a bunch of money on fuel. I figure the electricity costs us about 1/3 of what we’d be paying for gasoline. Insurance is a little more expensive. My annual registration fee is $100 higher in Wisconsin, presumably to make up for lost gas tax revenue.

      The Leaf isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great little car if you can live with the limited range (60 to 85 miles, depending).

      If you need range, but want an EV, look at the Chevy Bolt, a Tesla, or maybe the new Hyundai Kona EV (good luck finding one). Or a Volt, which will go around 30 miles on electric before using the gas engine. Perfect for trips around town.

      You can find more info on the Leaf or Electric Vehicles in general on the web: (Leaf forums)


      • Paul says

        Almost forgot some details:

        Our 2013 Leaf SV had 21,549 miles on it when we bought it.

        It has 42,179 miles on it now, 19 months later. (We drive it a lot 🙂

        Battery health was at 86% when we bought it, crept back up into the 90’s somehow (!) and has dropped back down to 87.5.

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Thanks Paul…

        …for your awesome and detailed comment. Very helpful.

        I’ll have to read thru it a couple more times.

        Where are you in WI?

        • Paul says

          You’re welcome, Jim! I’ve learned a lot from your blog and book. Glad I can offer a little information in return.

          We’re near Stevens Point, about 90 minutes due north of Madison.

          I’d drive down to visit you in my Leaf but we’d probably have to charge twice to make it there 😀

  12. MrFireMe says

    Jim, I just received Steve’s prayers. Why not cut him some slack? If you don’t see any black smoke it usually means the oil is not firing in your cylinders; it might be in your carter or carter vent, you might want to look at your spark plugs after an oil change and check them again after 2 weeks. If they aren’t carbonized, greasy and are just clean the engine is fine (ie: no leaks on your cylinders) and the problem might be easily solved by a mechanic.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Might be my prayers you’re hearing there, Mr. FM. 🙂

      Steve goes in for his 150,000 mile service in a week or two and will get new plugs. We can see what the old ones look like then.

  13. Dave says

    Personally, I’d run the piss outta ol’ Steve as long as you don’t feel too vulnerable doing so. If so, then get yourself another “indestructible Japanese shitbox (gas) “ that will last you another 10 years……😉👍🏻

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Steve is offended and likely to spit oil at you.

      He prefers to think of himself as the rugged SUV of the TV commercials, going anywhere and always seeking adventure.

      Even as we baby him down the tarmac. 🙂

  14. MICHAEL KEEL says

    I have the same issue with my 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt with 160,000 miles.
    The oil needs to be added every couple weeks of daily driving. No smoke or leaks.
    If I uncover the reason I will let you know.

    I also looked at replacing it with a Leaf. I think they are great. Unfortunately the range on the older (cheaper) versions isn’t enough for my needs here in northern New Jersey. I need about 150 mile of range. Maybe a Volt or a Telsa or a newer Leaf.

    I am leaning towards an older Prius. I too would love an all electric.

    Anyway good luck and let us know what you end up doing!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Please do let us know if you figure out the reason, Michael…

      …and I’ll do the same.

      Did the oil usage come on suddenly? Around what mileage?

  15. Carly says

    We lost my dear 2001 Chevrolet Prizm to the same slow oil leak, after 180k trusty miles. She was losing 1 qt/750 miles, and we still were able to run her for another 2 years! Like you, we were simply curious as to just how long we could run the car.

  16. Darrow Kirkpatrick says

    Thanks for the update Jim, always great to talk cars. We have 2012 and 2015 Foresters thanks in part to your original suggestion! We love them, but at around 70K the 2012 recently sprung leaks in the front diff and trans pan. It was an expensive repair, but a call to Subaru national granted us a $500 credit, so it’s always worth checking. We owned a 2007 Prius for many years but weren’t that happy with it, unfortunately. Several significant repairs and the gas mileage never got out of the low 40’s and was often in the 30’s. That said, several relatives own them and love them.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hey Darrow…

      Great to hear from you and glad your Foresters have (mostly) worked out.

      Interesting take on the Prius. Most reports on them are so glowing it makes me nervous. 😉

  17. Lynne says

    Long time reader, first time commenter here – thank you, jlcollinsnh, for all the wisdom you’ve shared with us readers over the years.

    As for the topic at hand – we have a Chevy Bolt and we put in solar panels at the same time, so we essentially commute on sunshine. Best combo, if you can manage it.

    The Bolt is zippier and more fun to drive than the Leaf, if you believe the reviews. (Full disclosure: I’ve never driven a Leaf.) And the “238” range means less “range anxiety” when taking it longer than about town.

    I put 238 in quotes because that is the advertised range but it really depends on the type of driving you are doing, and the temperature, and whether you’re using the heater or A/C in the car. We’ve managed to get over 300 miles on a charge under perfect conditions. But if you’re driving at highway speed in cold weather with the heater on, though, you would get fewer miles per charge.

    Definitely recommend Plugshare when you’re on the road to find the charging stations. With a fast charger installed on the Bolt, you can get 90 miles in 45 minutes. We find the Bolt comfortable and surprisingly roomy inside, for a smallish car, because there is no center hump that you need in an ICE vehicle.

    We also have a second car – in fact we just traded in our 2003 Forester when she needed a new catalytic converter.

  18. Val says

    Funny, but I’ve been having the same problem with my 2014 Subaru Outback. Normally I drive 3-5K miles per year, but this past spring I drove about 5K miles in a month. Ever since then, I’ve had trouble maintaining oil levels – the low oil light comes on before I hit 3K miles. I keep a quart of oil in the car just in case. This seems ridiculous for a four year old car, but the mechanics at the dealership say there is nothing they can find wrong.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      For a low mileage 2014, that does seem wrong.

      But I have heard many manufacturers claim that a quart every 1000 can be normal even when new. Sounds bogus to me, and I’ve never had a car use oil between changes until, like Steve, it got up in years and miles.

    • AT says

      One more.. 2013 Impreza. Topping off oil every 2-3k. Multiple checks and oil consumption tests by the dealer found zero issues.. go figure. Mileage is under 40k.

  19. Mark H. says


    As a fellow Wisconsinite (although full-time), I can empathize with the lack of charging stations in the area. I solved this by purchasing a Toyota Prius Prime to replace our old Prius. The Prime plugs in and I can get around 40 miles per charge. When I run out of EV range, I’m running as a regular Prius hybrid.

    I gas up about once a month, and often average around 100+ MPG between fill ups (due to running mainly in EV mode). With a $4,502 federal tax credit, the Prime was actually less expensive than purchasing a regular Prius.

    You said your preference is full EV versus a hybrid. The other option I considered was the Chevy Bolt. I believe the federal tax credit was $7,500 at the time, and still is for awhile. The Bolt (as opposed to the similarly named Volt) is full EV. You may find that an intriguing alternative to the Leaf.

    If I hadn’t had such a great experience with the Prius in the past, and didn’t want range anxiety with a full EV, I think the Bolt would have been my choice.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Bolts are thin on the ground around here, too.

      Might just come down to which shows up in the search first. 🙂

  20. Robin says

    Jim I have loved following your column and your block for years. Thank you for your inspiration you have given me We are currently looking at the leaf or so but we were waiting for the model With the bigger battery that was due out by the end of 2018. Does anybody have any information on that and I have a question about if the battery is upgradable in the leaf as they improve the range. I understand with the Tesla you can swap out to the larger battery as they come out with better ones. I haven’t been able to find much information about the batteries specifically on the leaf. We are considering buying a new one and keeping it for a very very long time. Any help would be appreciated. thanks again !

    • Paul says

      There’s not really any official word on a larger Leaf battery yet.

      And batteries in any EV aren’t upgradeable. Tesla sold some cars with batteries that could be upgraded with a “software unlock” (basically artificially limited to a smaller “size” for a cheaper price). But as far as I know, manufacturers aren’t offering better (bigger?) batteries for their older cars.

      If the 150 mile range of the 2018 Leaf suits your needs, go for it, otherwise keep an eye on the market as EV tech is changing every year.

      Or, save some money and pick up a used EV, as the prices tend to drop quite a bit in the used market.

  21. Michael Schepers says

    I’d suggest looking at the Chevy Volt. I owned two of them. I leased a 2013 and at the end of that lease I bought a 2015. You can pick up a used one (2013-2015) for around $10k-$12k. It gets you 35 to 40 electric miles and then runs as a fuel-efficient gas car. This completely eliminates range anxiety and your concerns about having to ship the car long distances. I found both my Volts to be extremely reliable. Over 5 years of ownership I averaged about 150mpg, including several cross-country road trips.

  22. Ben in Maine says

    Keep Steve for the next 6 months. Table the research, fretting, etc. until the end of May and check in again. Just like VTSAX, it’s best to just relax and maintain your car rather than constantly falling prey to hype, fear and “I heard….”.
    I’ll bet in May Steve’ll be a lot like he is now and then you can get back to driving and check in again next Thanksgiving.
    Or you can come to Maine and BUY the Prius I just rebuilt the battery on…(it’s available to anyone in the area) (and yes, I’m *that* Ben in Maine)

    • jlcollinsnh says

      I have it on good authority that Prius doesn’t even have a back seat in it. You’d be lucky to have me take it off your hands. 😉

  23. Ari says

    I’d be inclined to hang onto Steve a while longer, but then hubby was an aircraft mechanic and does all the servicing and maintenance on our cars so we’re only paying for parts as they come up. I like my cars and don’t want to let them go yet.

    We have had a few repairs recently – his Subaru Outback (05, his baby) has wheel somethings being replaced, with the radiator done a few months ago, and my Toyota Corolla needs a new water pump, radiator done last month. But she’s just rolled over to 350000km today (218k miles) and will be 19 in January. I want to get her to 400k at least.

    I’ll be going electric once the utes hit mainstream, so not for a while yet!

  24. Colleen says

    We have a 2011 Leaf with about 55,000 mile on her and like it very much…that being said, we live in Chicago burbs and the fact that the heater is tied into the main batteries, ie. the miles drop like a rock if I turn the heat on, is kind of annoying. (I think they fixed this in later models) On the upside, the seat and steering wheel heater don’t run drop the range so I have them on and a wool blanket on my lap all winter long which keeps my toasty enough for my 20 minute commute. 🙂 In the winter my mileage fully charged is about 60 miles and in the summer I can get it up to about 75 since I have lost about 30% of my range overall. I’m not looking forward to swapping out the batteries…other than that, its a great car and works for my family. In fact, according to ComEd our household energy use is still “better than the neighbors” and that’s with my car plugged in every 2-3 days.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      From what I hear, still having a 60-75 mile range in a 2011 is pretty good.

      At what point will you swap out the battery?

  25. FIRECracker says

    I vote for moving to portugal and never needing a car again 🙂 (of course I would say that).

    Or maybe get a Tesla? You’ll get a lot of ogling from nerdy Silicon Valley dudes (Bryce included).

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Portugal, at least for part of the year, sounds sweet. I’ll have to see what my advance scouting party comes up with. 😉

      Envy from the likes of Bryce is (almost) enough to tip the scales to Tesla. 🙂

  26. Adam Taylor says

    Hi Jim, long time reader, first time commenter. Great blog, it’s really helped me!

    As a Tesla driver (s) I’d highly recommend at least looking at the Model 3 too. As you will have already gathered from some of your other posts, they can arise certain passions! But then all EVs seem to do this to some degree. I think people are very resistant to change.

    I am unsure about the US tax system, or how your site / book business is set up, but in the UK, there are extremely generous tax benefits to electric vehicle ownership through a company. For anyone in the UK with a company: The actual cost of ownership is pretty low after a few years. At least this is how I justified such a large upfront expense!

    I’ve had no issues with the Telsa and still love to drive it. I’d say definitely switch to an EV and you wont look back. Its great to wake up to a full tank every morning and I definitely don’t miss the trips to the filling station.

  27. Adam says

    In your last post about Steve, I commented about my “12-year-old stickshift Hyundai hatchback with 126k on the ticker”. I now have a 14-year-old stickshift Hyundai hatchback with 141k on the ticker. Here’s hoping your biennial car posts continue, and that I can update similarly each time!

    That said, it’s unlikely. My wife isn’t interested in driving a manual, her snazzy Mazda — one year newer, half the mileage — seems to be holding up just fine, I telecommute, and we’re well-served by public transportation… so when my nimble little hatchback gives up the ghost, we’ll not be buying another. And when her car dies, hopefully even more years into the future, I’m comfortable wagering that a Leaf or Soul EV or similar will be adequately affordable and have all the range we’ll ever need (200+ miles).

    In short we’ll hope for the best, plan for the worst, and will probably be pleasantly surprised. Works for us.

  28. Dave says

    As a former Subaru owner of similar vintage, I’d suggest getting the head gaskets checked — a common failure mode for these engines is the head gaskets develop leaks at the bottom edge of the cylinders. Depending on the advancement of the leak, oil and/or coolant will leak out of the engine, into the combustion chamber where it’s burned off, or oil ends up in the coolant and vice versa. If it’s caught and fixed soon enough, no damage will be done and you’ll have plenty of life left in the engine — if the rest of the Forester is otherwise in good shape then having the cylinder heads cleaned up, machined, and installed with new gaskets is a worthwhile investment. After that, aside from timing belt maintenance it should easily be good for another 100k or more. While they’re in there, checking the valve cover seals and rear main seal are a good idea, as they’re common leak points too. Any place that specializes in Subarus or Japanese vehicles should have some familiarity with this situation, as it’s been the one big common issue with the engine design from the late 90s until the late 2000s.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Dave…

      We had the head gasket on the left side replaced in 2014 @ 94k miles. As you say, a common issue. Timing belt was replaced at the same time, so we have another 30k to go on that.

      The shop says everything looks nice a dry at the moment. But they’ll have a chance for a closer look with the 150k service.

      I gather you no longer have a Subie?

      • Dave says

        Ahh, glad to hear the shop is keeping up with your Forester then, I’m sure they’ll get things sorted out with it. Unfortunately with my Subie, despite it being a dependable vehicle while I had it, its life with a previous owner up north had caused a lot of rust underneath that made it difficult to work on, and was on its way to becoming a structural concern. I replaced it a year ago with a manual Toyota hatchback that I plan on getting a good 15-20 years out of 🙂

      • jlcollinsnh says

        Hey Dave…

        Turns out your assessment:

        “…the head gaskets develop leaks at the bottom edge of the cylinders. Depending on the advancement of the leak, oil and/or coolant will leak out of the engine, into the combustion chamber where it’s burned off…”

        was exactly the problem. The shop called Friday to say they’d found the leaking gasket and oil on the plugs on that side.

        New gaskets going on both sides and Steve should be good to go, with hopefully no long-term damage done. 🙂

        • Bruce says

          Hey Jim,

          Checking in on how it went with the head gasket replacements. My Subaru is now leaking oil and antifreeze externally and I’m trying to weigh replacing the head gaskets or looking at other options. Sue (our Subaru) just turned 130K and has new tires and brakes so would like to keep her around for a while longer.
          Are you happy with the decision to get the repair? What did it cost if you don’t mind me asking?

          • jlcollinsnh says

            Hi Bruce…

            Turns out it was the valve cover gaskets that were replaced. And the leak is still there. It uses between half a quart and a quart every thousand miles.

            Their best guess is it is just burning it.

            Several years ago at around 90K miles, I did have one of the head gaskets replaced and, as I recall, that was ~$800.

            Let us know what you decide.

  29. Andrew Mitchell says

    We are owners of multiple Teslas and a 2013 LEAF.
    We’ve put 35000 miles on the LEAF and over 100k on the Teslas.

    Some points to consider:
    1) driving in cold weather:
    The EVs are generally better than ICE in ice/snow due to the ability of the car to react quickly to slipping.
    Consider if you want AWD… if so then the options are a used Tesla S/X or a new 3.

    2) options for used Tesla S/X
    You can find used S/X in the usual places or at
    The AWD Tesla S/X have a D (dual motor) in the name, such as 85D.
    These older S/X are larger than a 3, and there are already roof racks available… but the older ones won’t have autopilot (which is useful on long drives)
    You can get one for under $45k

    3) options for model 3:
    There are a bunch of used RWD 3s out there in the market right now from people upgrading to the newly made-in-volume AWD.
    Otherwise, assuming you qualify for the federal rebate, see what you can do with Tesla… right now if you want AWD and buy new they can’t guarantee delivery this year (for the full credit). However last quarter they ended up having a last minute car lot style go-and-grab-a-car at the end of the quarter, I expect something similar this quarter.

    4) Buying new EVs
    Figure out what government rebates and local utility rebates you qualify for.
    If you qualify for $10k or so in rebates, buy new. Otherwise buy used from somewhere where used prices are depressed $10k due to the government rebates available for new. In some locations you can get a new LEAF for under $16k new… so if that isn’t you, buy an almost new one for $12k.

    5) LEAF versus Tesla
    As owners of each, the biggest practical Tesla advantage over new LEAFs is the supercharger network. They are correctly located (near freeways, every 100 miles, near food outlets), they have 4-20 stalls each time. When driving a long way (and you will, in a Tesla) just stop for 20-30 minutes every couple of hours.
    For the other networks, they are located poorly (in cities, not near freeways, or often food outlets), typically only have 1-2 charging locations in each spot (so sometimes you wait an hour to get a charge) and have big gaps in coverage across the US.
    However if you know you have a trip that is 100 miles or less and that is what you will always do, then a LEAF is the cheaper option.

    6) buying a LEAF.
    The big difference in model years is the range. A 2013 started at 80 miles of range, which has degraded to 70 by now. Let’s call it 60 miles in cold weather for a single drive. (if you make multiple drives on a charge in winter it might only be 50 miles)
    Used 2013s are cheap << $6k and can pay for themselves in fuel savings as a second car.
    New Leafs have negotiable pricing, NMAC incentives, etc, so after rebates can be $16k.

    7) aging of the cars.
    The EVs age pretty well due to less vibrations, less moving parts. However this doesn't affect rusting.
    Batteries age like this: In the first few months you will lose maybe 5% on your range. Then 1%-2% per year after that. Given the aging of Tesloop vehicles we can see that amount driven, use of superchargers, has little to do with it. The only exceptions are:
    * It is still recommended to not leave the car 90% charged for long periods… only top up above 90% when you are driving soon to somewhere that might be useful.
    * Old LEAFS suffer from not having active cooling and an older battery style. In very hot (Texas) environments these degraded quickly.
    (There are a few studies of Tesla battery milage versus degradation online. Also see the Tesloop results. They tend to show a wide variety of degradation as they typically don’t take into account age. Have a look at those and see if you come to the same conclusion as me)

    Conclusion: The LEAF isn’t yet a road trip car. It would be a great car for most purposes if you kept Steve.
    With cheap comfortable driving you will likely drive more with an EV. If this is your primary car, get a Tesla 3 long range AWD, use it for everything, and add some road trips to it. Figure out with the government rebates how to optimize to get the full rebate by taking delivery by dec 31st.

  30. Marco says

    Buy a 2-3 year old prius, its the best of both worlds. great fuel mileage and you can drive for long trips without worrying about charging it up. We bought a 2013 with 50K on it for $16K that model (navigation, heated seats sound system upgrade) sold new for $27k. We are amazed by this vehicle gets around 51mpg in town and one trip from Oregon to Whidbey island I got 54.4mpg

  31. Bruce says

    You may want to replace the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve and see if there is change in oil consumption. The valve may be plugged or stuck which could cause your oil concern. The valve costs around $5 to $10 and the major auto parts stores carry them. Might be worth a try. Good luck.
    Your blog is an outstanding resource that I look forward to reading and learning from. The Simple Path to Wealth is an easy to read book with great advice and recommendations along with the rationale behind them! Our local library didn’t have the book when it first came out so I requested they order it. Within 2 weeks I was reading the book and now many more people are learning from your wisdom. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and perspective!!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Bruce!

      A new PVC valve is on the list for the upcoming 150k service. Hope it helps!

      Thanks, too, for the kind words on my book. If you haven’t already left a 5-star review for it on Amazon, the second part of your comment would be a great one.

      Just sayin’ 🙂

  32. Celeste says

    I’ve been driving a 2015 Leaf for one year now. Bought it used last November with 20k miles for just under $11k. I commute about 35 miles round trip in upstate New York, a mix of city and highway driving, and find that it’s absolutely perfect for my needs. We installed a Level 2 charger at home to make weekends easier with running errands/transporting kids/lots of home and out and back again trips, but in truth, the 120V “trickle” charger it came with would suit our needs 95% of the time, so this was entirely optional.

    My Leaf had it’s full capacity, 12 bars, when I bought it and still does today. The range is typically 85 miles or so in warm weather, city driving. I take a HUGE hit in the winter, especially if I’m on the highway, and will see the range drop down to 45-50. However, my daily commute is lower than this, so it’s never been a problem. I put snow tires on it (thanks MMM!) and am absolutely thrilled with how well it handles. Numerous vehicles off the road and sliding through intersections last year during one particularly nasty storm, and my Leaf just trucked on through. Truly impressive.

    We’ve put 11k miles on it in the last year, and seen zero drop in performance/reliability. We’ve also seen zero change in our electricity bill, which was surprising. The gas savings has been awesome.

    I wouldn’t buy a used Leaf with a degraded battery (less than 12 bars) simply because that would stress me out, always wondering when it might drop another bar. My research indicated that 2013 and later models were preferable; as another reader mentioned above, many of the “bugs” had been worked out.

    I also have two car seats in the back, and plenty of leg room up front. Gotta love it! Driving it is just plain fun, and it’s positively zippy when ECO mode is turned off. And nearly silent. It’s great! My husband was dead set against it (can’t be fast enough, sturdy enough, reliable enough) and now he loves it too — swears up and down he’d buy another one in a hot second.

    Thanks Jim!

  33. Van says

    If you take the approach of renting (read: leasing) the lifestyle first to make sure it works for you, I’d suggest taking a look at: The blogger does a nice job providing monthly updates on EV lease deals. There tend to be two or three year leases — but some dealerships will also lease prior year’s models at a better rate. It is unusual, but possible.

    As someone in a single car household who moved from ICE to EV, I asked the same questions about range, reliability, etc. when looking to make the change. I now understand the look I would get from EV drivers when I asked about “range” — and I probably now give that look to everyone who asks me about it. Range (and range anxiety) is better understood once you are actively driving an EV. It depends on how you drive, the topography, the car battery, etc. At first I was concerned about running out of juice and maybe needing some sort of gasoline backup. Never happened and never needed it. It turns out that when evaluating how our household really uses a car, we didn’t need more range. We aren’t roadtrippers except for 1 – 2 times a year — and in those cases we rent a car. At first we used the trickle (Level 1) charger, but had a Level 2 charger installed about three months in. Made a big difference on charging time and we tend to live off the top half of the battery the way we lived off the top half of the gas tank in the ICE days.

    We are three years into having only one (EV) vehicle. From a cost standpoint, our electric bill has gone up minimally (about $22/month average), but we are saving on gasoline (which was more than $100/month) and don’t have many of the maintenance costs (e.g., oil changes). Even with the Level 2 install and occasional car rental for those roadtrips, it has been a significant net savings. I really like our EV and have no motivation to have an ICE.

    From a driving experience, the EV is really “peppy” with instant response and, for some models, genuine one-pedal driving. Regarding driving in ice/snow — that really depends on whether the vehicle is AWD and how much regenerative breaking the EV has. Regenerative breaking means that when you take your foot off the gas, the car begins to break to gather energy back into the battery. And, as you know from NH, breaking on ice and snow can be tricky business.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Van…

      …very helpful.

      You don’t mention which EV you drive, but I imagine “living off the top half of the battery” (great term and concept!) is easier with a longer range Bolt or Tesla.

      With a Leaf down around 60 miles of range it might be more of an issue. For us anyway.

      • Van says

        Was trying to be brand neutral, but for transparency: BMW i3 (BEV, no REX). Range on full charge is about 90 – 100 miles, less with colder temperatures (e.g., less than 50 degrees F). 75% city driving, 25% highway. The two items I wish someone had told me about for the i3 are: (1) you will eventually get a rock stuck in the wheel which will make an unbelievable screech (and everyone will stare) — so turn in circles and go over a few speed bumps to loosen and dislodge; and (2) the tires are its Achilles heel – the upgraded wheels have a tendency to puncture or bulge if you try to go over a curb. So, don’t try to off-road with it.

  34. Jeff says

    Hello and thanks for your wisdom as always Mr CollinsNH.

    I think I read somewhere regarding the 2013 models that the basic S model had a different type battery than the higher tier SL and SV models. It may have been this post:

    I am still driving Ellen, my wonderful 06 Outback XT with 198k miles on her now. My wife has a base model 07 Impreza and we are also considering an EV. Problem is most of my high mileage driving is for search and rescue and on dirt roads, or to the Seattle airport on the other side of the mountains where I may or may not even get to point A on one charge. I walk my wife to her office in the morning and back home to my home office so we do little local driving.

    I’ll be keeping a close eye on this post. My wife half teases that I tend to buy things after you buy them. Our Mint mattress should be here next week.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      One good thing, Jeff…

      …if you buy things only after I buy them, you are not buying much 🙂

      Sounds like your old Outback is a better vehicle for your needs than an EV would be.

  35. Mr. FC says

    been a long minute since i stuck my head into the FI blogosphere. been busy getting mechanically trained up on keeping my older cars on the road, which has been far more satisfying and frugal and personally applicable than getting smug on MMM. 🙂

    glad to hear it was just a gasket issue. oil leaks like this tend to look worse than they really are. the boxer engines in this generation of subarus (subarii?) have a few well-documented issues to sort and this is one of them. fortunately i don’t think there’s much else, so drive and enjoy.

    i say skip the EV for now and drive the wheels off the forester. steve has already taken the depreciation hit and once the EV coolness wears off, you’re stuck with an import shitbox with an expensive battery that needs replacing and can’t go very far without plugging in. (side note – i’m all for import shitboxes…of a certain age.) the gen 1 leaf battery design was good for its day but didn’t age well. not sure about gen 2, they are probably still too new to know much about the battery lifespan.

    fwiw, your 2006 forester was built to be repaired and one of the last ones built that way. go take a look at the engine bay in a current model year subaru, or any car for that matter, and you’ll be greeted by a sea of plastic cowlings and crap keeping you from seeing or touching the engine. ever wonder why oil change intervals have gone from 3-4K miles to 5K and now 10-15K? i find it very interesting that’s coincided with dealers covering “scheduled maintenance for the first 3 years or 30K miles.” or “lifetime” fluids in the transmission or differential or cooling systems? what lifetime are we talking about…the life of the car or the life of the part? no manufacturer is immune to this, by the way – my 2013 bmw (since sold) had plastic parts in the differential and is meant for replacement when worn. my 1991 bmw’s diff is solid metal and can be rebuilt. as just one example.

    cars are fun and stuff, but they are expensive AF if you buy new or even lightly used and sell quickly. i’ve done more than my share of that and have the lighter bank account to show for it. most new cars these days are built like smartphones, meant for the “ownership experience” of the first 40-50k miles, only to be traded in for a new model 3 years later. take this pattern and apply it to the rest of your stuff, and you’ll see it repeats. interesting, no? you could probably hit FI by only buying what you need and buying well, and investing the rest. 🙂

  36. Mark says

    The last few years are the the ugly ones… Spare yourself the grief ! Cut the cord now with “Steve” while you still have a few fond memories of him. — If you hold on too long you are in for a lot of pain and suffering to witness… getting old isn’t pretty.
    A Leaf?… Meh … I’d get a reliable gasser… Toyota, Honda, or another Forester.

  37. Travis Thompson says

    I too share your interest in EVs but I was unable to pull the trigger on a used Leaf. I spent countless hours researching the car online and one afternoon test driving several used ones. Despite the fuel savings and novelty of owning an electric car, I realized the Leaf would probably never leave my town due to the range limitations. Something about that reality ended my interest in the Leaf.

    Instead we bought a used Prius V. Which is about as bullet proof of a vehicle as I’ve ever known. It gets mid 40’s mpgs, has heated leather seats, bluetooth stereo, and can hold 40 bags of black earth grow mulch from home depot. During 5 years of ownership, we’ve only had a few oil changes, new wipers, and a set of tires put on it.

    Toyota recently discontinued importing the Prius V to the US. Apparently we Americans prefer SUVs and trucks as opposed to gas sipping hybrid station wagons. As a result, the prices have dropped considerably. You can find excellent used models with less than 100k for around $11,000.

    My only gripe with the car is that I miss having a manual transmission. The continuous variable tranny takes some getting use to. On the plus side, the car only costs $18 to fill up for 400+ miles. The cost of ownership is one of the lowest out there according to Consumer Reports.

    Best of luck with Steve. I know how hard it can be to part with an old friend. I had to let one of my old friends go after 345k miles. Still miss that car.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      It is the idea of owning an electric that is a big part of the appeal for me. Plus, the range of the Leaf is pretty ideal for our daily usage.

      Still, it would only work as a second car. And as a way to help Steve thru the years. 🙂

      What was your 345k mile old friend?

      • Travis Thompson says

        1991 Toyota 4Runner with 5speed transmission. After many great years, the rust and constant oil leaks eventually became too much.

        If the Leaf is a 2nd car, then you’re good to go. They’re ideal for getting around town. Just make sure to toss some love to Steve so he doesn’t feel left out.

  38. Matt says

    FYI, they also just announced US pricing on the new Hyundai Kona EV. It will start at $36,450 ($28,950 after federal tax credit, $23,950 for Colorado residents It basically looks like a better Bolt with more range (258 mile rated), comfort and interior space (here’s an Edmunds head to head It can quick charge up to 80% of it’s battery in 54 minutes on a 100kw CCS charger so road trips are possible (check this link out for details on how quick charging works Volkswagon’s Electrify America company is planning on installing a lot of these 100kw CCS chargers over the next few years, but there aren’t any in WI right now. Also, driving it at high speed in cold temperatures will greatly reduce an EVs range (Car and Driver says Kona gets 160 miles at 75 mph below freezing A Kona EV might not be right for you right now, but in 3 years when they start coming off leases they may be very cheap (because similar to the Leaf new EVs will likely have improved a ton over the next 3 years). A cheap Leaf from CA shipped to your house in WI could tide you over till then.

  39. Kcsm says

    I love my 2018 Volt. Best of both worlds. I drive 18k miles a year and take several 300 mile+ trips so a full EV wasn’t for me. If you consider a Tesla look at locations of superchargers compared to where you frequently travel. If you have a longer trip that you make several times a year and the chargers aren’t convenient then you are wasting time (and paying a premium to do it). That’s why I didn’t buy a Tesla.

    My initial plans were to buy an E class Mercedes, BMW 5 series, Audi a6, or something similar (and pay cash for it). But after driving a Volt I didn’t want any of those cars – too loud, not as much fun to drive, too much maintenance, and too overpriced. My only complaint is it is small, that could be a problem for some (my 6-2 spouse complains). But this car is loaded and after applicable tax incentives I paid $31k. It saves me $100/ month in energy costs compared to my former ride, which got 23 mpg. My lifetime average on the Volt is 115 mpg. If someone had told me 16 months ago that I would buy a Chevy I would have wondered what happened, job loss, stock market crash, divorce?? If someone would have told me I would buy and love a Chevy I would have laughed the out of the room.

    I don’t want to turn you away from a full EV. But I don’t see how you can consider another ICE. I will never buy another one – the cost is just too high and the time the require is ridiculous. Teslas are fantastic cars and I believe the Leaf and Bolt are well made, too. But just know what you are getting into. For me the Volt (or a Honda Clarity,which came out a month after I bought my Volt) seem to offer the best of both worlds. And their prices are hard to beat, especially if you don’t need a loaded one like I wanted.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Kcsm…

      Great review.

      The Volt is a very interesting option, although I am also 6’2″

      The only reason I am considering a full EV is that it would be a second errand running car, which is how most of our miles rack up. We’d still have Steve for the snowy days and longer trips. Plus I want to experience a full EV.

      This is also the reason a cheap used Leaf seems a good choice. We don’t need the range of a Tesla, or even a Bolt.

      At various times in my life, I have also considered buy an older (10 year or so) E class Mercedes or BMW 5 series. Cost of repairs and maintenance scared me off. 😉

    • Sara says

      My mother gifted me my late father’s 1996 Chevy Caprice Classic in September 2014. It had less than 100k miles on it. I’ve since put ~27k on it. On the last day of 2014 I wrote a check for a 2014 Chevy Silverado for less than what I could find what I wanted used. I’ve been “sharing the miles” between the two vehicles. The truck has ~30k on it.

    • Mollie says

      This post and its comments have been great research helps. We need to get a car in the next couple months and have been eyeing the Leaf for a few years because we would love to go fully electric. It would be our only car which brings some concerns–mainly range and winter here in Chicago. Most of the time it would be fine, but we don’t want to be SOL those few other times we need to drive more. I can’t bear the thought of buying a Chevy which is why I haven’t looked into the Volt even though I know I should. I’m glad to hear Kcsm did not going into it willingly, but found it positive anyway. We’re going to have to at least check it out at some point.

      Also looking at hybrids, but again, we’d love to be more on the electric side of things if possible. Eventually, we’ll have to face the reality of what it will mean if we truly want a long-term car. I’ve seen a few articles about third party options or badgering the Nissan dealer to replace a Leaf battery (third party article:

      Congrats on coming to a decision with your car dilemma, JL!

  40. Scott says

    I imported a 2005 GMC Jimmy from Alberta to Wisconsin in 2016. My grandfather passed away and the Jimmy sat in my parents backyard for a few years with only 24000 km on it. I have the same steep driveway problem but with a push of a button the 4×4 kicks in and up we go. It’s not pretty, comfortable, spacious or good on gas but it was free and that buys you a lot of gas. I’m sure gramps is looking down smiling knowing that I have given his rig a full second life here in the land of cheese.

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