And it was a necessity.
For those of you who don't know, Paul commutes around 600 miles a week to school (about 300 miles each way) plus the 20 or so miles each day going to and from work (not to mention our trips to "the city" to stock up on supplies... those are 100+ miles).
When we bought the new car we had just sold my Volkswagen Beetle, after putting thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars of repair in it. I can honestly say that I have some very bad feelings about VW's after that experience because in the course of a year my fairly new Bug needed a new water pump, a new oil pump, a new head gasket, and quite a few other fixes. It only had around 60,000 miles on it, but was no longer under warranty. It was insane.
So when Paul and I went car shopping we had a few important requirements. We needed a car that got great gas mileage for all the driving he does. And it needed to be reliable. I should note that our income was a bit more back then and after crunching the numbers, researching and going on a test drive we made our decision:
A Toyota Prius.
I remember thinking about how reliable and dependable Toyota's were. The words "good quality" went through my head too. But dependable and reliable and safe were really huge selling points. After owning a few lemons, buying a Toyota seemed like a wonderful idea. Fast forward to the present...
It seems that we were very, very wrong...
I had a long conversation with Paul today explaining my experimentation with shifting the car into neutral while driving (I tried this on a straight flat part of the dirt road). After watching the ABC special with the college professor who says that it's an electrical short I decided to try his fix, shifting into neutral, to see what happened.... I want to be prepared if our car takes off and can't be stopped!
I tapped the shifter into neutral and nothing happened. I did it twice and it worked. Then I tried it again and it took six taps. After quite a few tries I figured it out. Since the shifter, like every other part of the car, is electronic and computerized, it has to be held in the neutral position if you shift while driving. Otherwise the car acts like I accidently bumped the thing and keeps on driving. So, to shift into neutral while driving the Prius I have to hold the shifter in the "neutral" position for two or three seconds. Which would be very, very scary with a car suddenly accelerating. And it's not something you would have time to figure out in an emergency.
Minutes after I told Paul about this, the weatherman on our local station explained the exact same thing (he apparently has a Prius too).
Before this whole Toyota-disaster we'd talked about buying cars in the future, after Paul's done with school and we were so happy with the Prius we were pretty sure that our future cars would be Toyota's. That's highly unlikely now.
I just hope that they stop lying and pretending it's the floor mats soon and fix the actual problem... Although at this point I will probably very likely still be skeptical and a little nervous even after they say that they've figured it out and it's all "fixed."
Once trust has been destroyed it's not easy to get it back. I think Toyota is going to discover that in the coming months and years.