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Help Me Decide On a New (used) Car
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jersey
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Oct 1, 2010, 06:01 PM
 
Hello All,

I need a new car. I live in NYC and commute to NJ 4 days a week. I need something small so it's easy to park, and want something that is reliable and wont fall apart after 2 years on the roads out here. Also, I need an automatic - I dont want one - but my left leg says otherwise.

I've been looking at the 3 following cars - but am having a hard time deciding. I'd like to finance around $12k and put $2-3K down, and dont have a trade.

-06 newer GTI. This is top of the list. It seems however that for a less than 60K mile example people refuse to come up off them for less than $15-16.

-07or newer Rabbit / Golf. While thee are ok, they just dont compare to the GTI.

-07 or newer Mini Cooper. Older Mini's have a potential grenade for a transmission.

Do your best to talk me into or out of one of these, or into something completely different.

Thanks.
     
olePigeon
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Oct 1, 2010, 06:05 PM
 
Mini is always fun. I'm not a car person so I don't have any input outside of that.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 1, 2010, 06:14 PM
 
If you want reliable, don't get a Mini Cooper. Least reliable vehicle sold in the US. Don't get the Rabbit/Golf. Although well built, the 2.5L is quite thirsty. So from your list, I'd pick the GTI. However, I still wouldn't want to have one in the city where a nice car like that is gonna get banged up. I'd probably just get a Civic. They're cheap, easy to park, get great gas mileage, and really aren't that bad handling either. Plus Honda's 5 speed auto is a very smooth box.
     
jersey  (op)
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Oct 1, 2010, 06:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
If you want reliable, don't get a Mini Cooper. Least reliable vehicle sold in the US. Don't get the Rabbit/Golf. Although well built, the 2.5L is quite thirsty. So from your list, I'd pick the GTI. However, I still wouldn't want to have one in the city where a nice car like that is gonna get banged up. I'd probably just get a Civic. They're cheap, easy to park, get great gas mileage, and really aren't that bad handling either. Plus Honda's 5 speed auto is a very smooth box.
I hear that a lot about the Mini. I also hear it a lot about VWs, so I'm not too sure how much weight I can give that in the decision.

I havent heard anything about the 2.5 being thirsty. Thats something I'll have to look into. Are the manufacturers ratings off, or are they more of an ideal conditions instead of real world?

I've looked at the civic, but it's just too damn long at 175.5 inches. The GTI is 168 - those 7 inches can save you 30 minutes in terms of parking - and the mini is 143".
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 1, 2010, 06:53 PM
 
Well, looking at JD Power and Associate info, Mini Cooper has 125 problems per car VW GTI has 65 (although on their site, they both have the same 2 out of 5 rating). The problem with the 2.5L is that you get the power of a 4 cylinder with the gas mileage of a 6 cylinder and the noise of something ungodly. I hear most people get 21-24 mpg in the 2.5 Jetta estate, which is quite similar to the Rabbit (same chassis).

Have you looked at the Honda Fit? For your price range, you could get a nearly-new Fit, and those are small and very easy to drive and also surprisingly roomy, and the auto even has paddle shifters. Plus 35 mpg is easily attainable. The build quality isn't what you'd get from a VW, but it's also not as bad as a Yaris or Corolla.
     
CreepDogg
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:01 PM
 
On the Minis - you're right about the transmission. The '07 and newer have a common torque converter automatic. The 06 and older have a CVT that many people have had problems with - necessitating a total replacement to the tune of $6-7K. The average point anecdotally seems to be around 70,000 miles. So - I wouldn't get the CVT.

The '06 and older Cooper S with automatic don't use a CVT - they use a regular automatic like the '07 and newer. So you could look for an older Cooper S if that works. I have an '06 Cooper S and like it - I actually like the interior on the older Minis a bit better, but that's a matter of preference.

On reliability - obviously this is anecdotal, but all I can say is that we have 2 of them (I have a Cooper S and my wife actually does have the Cooper with the CVT), and haven't really had any problems. They're both '06 models, so they're late in the production run of the first version of the 'new' Mini, and a lot of people have said they sorted out a lot of the issues by then. We've had a LOT better experience with them than with my wife's old VW Cabrio or other family members' Jettas.

That said, we will be looking to get rid of my wife's CVT model in the next year or so. She doesn't drive a lot of miles (has about 24000 on it now), so we're crossing our fingers that we don't have any issues. We'll certainly be selling it before 40000 or so. That transmission is a ticking time bomb.
     
CreepDogg
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Have you looked at the Honda Fit? For your price range, you could get a nearly-new Fit, and those are small and very easy to drive and also surprisingly roomy, and the auto even has paddle shifters. Plus 35 mpg is easily attainable. The build quality isn't what you'd get from a VW, but it's also not as bad as a Yaris or Corolla.
I'd also look at the new Ford Fiesta. I haven't driven one yet, but want to. It seems like it has a nicer build quality more like the VW and Mini, and has features comparable to the Fit.

EDIT: Sorry, just saw the price range now. Never mind!
     
ghporter
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:04 PM
 
Another vote for the Fit. My son has one that has been great. It's fun to drive, efficient, small enough to park in a lot of small spaces, and it's built with "fitting stuff in" in mind. You can put an amazing amount of stuff in that car, and configure it as almost all cargo space (flat and level) in seconds.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:05 PM
 
I've driven the Fiesta quite a few times (I actually pre-ordered one, but apparently it got lost in space). It's a very, very nice drive, but gets quite expensive with options. The build quality is amazing though. The other day I test drove a Fiesta and then a Golf TDI back to back and the Fiesta honestly felt to be the same quality. Again though, the price can get pretty high. A SES hatch with the automatic will run you ~$19,000.
     
CreepDogg
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:19 PM
 
Yeah, I'd missed the price range, and also know that the Fiesta can get pretty pricey. So it's probably out of the running here. I'm starting to think about what to get when we sell my wife's Mini (she loves the Mini, and I may give her mine and drive whatever we get myself) - and the Fiesta is on the short list which is why it popped into my head. It gets pricey, but not nearly as pricey as a new Mini when optioned up!

We're also trying to, uh, 'grow' the family, so what we get kind of depends on that. I'm actually kind of thinking new Fiesta if that doesn't happen, and new (2012) Focus if it does (we'll want a little extra room!).

In this price range, I agree, a couple-year-old Fit > new 'base' Fiesta.
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:23 PM
 
Sure, definitely. The 2012 Focus looks to be a great option as well. I'm actually kind of waiting for it to come out along with the next wave of smaller cars (Cruze, Focus, Jetta, Civic etc.).
     
CreepDogg
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Oct 1, 2010, 07:49 PM
 
Anyway, jersey - on the Mini - as a Mini owner, I'd say if you end up really liking the Mini, get the Mini. I doubt you'll regret it. There's nothing else that drives quite like it. Just don't get the CVT.
     
jersey  (op)
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Oct 1, 2010, 09:00 PM
 
Thanks for all the info so far.

I am looking at the Mini more seriously now. Didnt know that about the milage and sound of the rabbit.

As for the Fit and Fiesta it's a tie - both are ugly, imo. The Fit on the outside and the Fiesta on the inside. However, a family member is a retired Ford employee so I could get their x-plan pricing which would knock the price of the Fiesta down considerably. Perhaps I should drive a fiesta next week....
     
downinflames68
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Oct 1, 2010, 09:09 PM
 
Small and easy to park = parallel park outside = get something old, all that stuff is too nice and will get beat up.
     
hayesk
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Oct 1, 2010, 09:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Have you looked at the Honda Fit? For your price range, you could get a nearly-new Fit, and those are small and very easy to drive and also surprisingly roomy, and the auto even has paddle shifters. Plus 35 mpg is easily attainable. The build quality isn't what you'd get from a VW, but it's also not as bad as a Yaris or Corolla.
I'm finding the same thing. I Just bought a Fit for my commute (50km/30miles per day) a couple of months ago. It's surprisingly roomy on the inside, back seats are very configurable (check out the "magic seats") and it's excellent on gas. I can confirm your 35mpg figure - I'm getting a little better than that.

I bought the manual (this is my first), so I can't comment on the automatic. It's not a fast car (could be my newly acquired shifting skills though), but it gets the job done.

We looked at the Yaris, but it's much smaller on the inside. We also looked at the Nissan Versa - it was narrow on the inside, my leg was pressed against the door when sitting in a natural position.
     
ghporter
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Oct 1, 2010, 10:12 PM
 
The Fit with the paddle-shift automatic is pretty peppy, and still very fuel efficient. I'm over 6'2", my son is over 6' and wider than me, and we can sit next to each other in the front seats and have lots of room. It's a fun car to drive, too.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
CreepDogg
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Oct 1, 2010, 11:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by downinflames68 View Post
Small and easy to park = parallel park outside = get something old, all that stuff is too nice and will get beat up.
What if he wants something nice, that can take a bit of a beating and still be nice, particularly inside?
     
macaddict0001
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Oct 1, 2010, 11:57 PM
 
Whatever you do, test drive the car and ideally get an inspection from a third party. Even the most reputable dealers ignore things that are simply too expensive to be worth fixing. A used car inspection is much better than on oil change inspection. Much more in depth. BTW isn't the train to trenton from manhattan $10 or something(well maybe 100 if you go amtrak).
     
Andy8
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Oct 2, 2010, 03:33 AM
 
     
ghporter
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Oct 2, 2010, 09:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by CreepDogg View Post
What if he wants something nice, that can take a bit of a beating and still be nice, particularly inside?
I think that's a major issue for the OP to consider. How much real street abuse can be expected versus how nice he wants, inside and out.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
jersey  (op)
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Oct 2, 2010, 09:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I think that's a major issue for the OP to consider. How much real street abuse can be expected versus how nice he wants, inside and out.
I do want something nice - not just transportation. If I wanted just transportation I'd buy a Yaris / Versa / etc.

I know it's going to take a bit of beating living in NYC, but I'm willing to live with that. I frequently get home late and leave early, so the cars in front and behind me dont change which will cut down on the damage. If you're smart about it you can keep the car looking nice while parking it on the street. There is a lady with a new Porsche Cayman S that parks overnight in our neighborhood frequently and the thing looks brand new and I havent seen a dent / scratch yet.

The more research I do the crankier I get about Americans and their big cars, especially when I see the multitude of nice, small, well built hatches in Europe.
     
jersey  (op)
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Oct 2, 2010, 10:02 AM
 
Originally Posted by macaddict0001 View Post
... BTW isn't the train to trenton from manhattan $10 or something(well maybe 100 if you go amtrak).
Ha! You would think that it would be cheaper than owning a vehicle, but a monthly train ticket between NYC and Trenton is $440. And then you have to sit among idiots for an hour and a half. I'm not going to get started on the inadequacies of NJ Transit.
     
downinflames68
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Oct 2, 2010, 12:50 PM
 
Get something you hate then. That way when it gets trashed you don't care.
     
Railroader
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Oct 2, 2010, 01:18 PM
 
Have you looked at the Nissan Cube?

Originally Posted by jersey
I need something small so it's easy to park, and want something that is reliable and wont fall apart after 2 years on the roads out here. Also, I need an automatic
Are there any other requirements? 2-door vs. 4-door? Cargo space?
     
Buffy Summers
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Oct 2, 2010, 03:53 PM
 
BMW 1 Series
the scapegoat
     
imitchellg5
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Oct 2, 2010, 05:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Buffy Summers View Post
BMW 1 Series
Yeah, that's right in his price range
     
Laminar
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Oct 2, 2010, 09:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
Have you looked at the Nissan Cube?
That question is interchangeable with "Have you vomited lately?"
     
Railroader
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Oct 2, 2010, 10:54 PM
 
A good vomit is amazingly refreshing.
     
Buffy Summers
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Oct 2, 2010, 11:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Yeah, that's right in his price range
Aren't we talking about a new (used) car.

Isn't there a market for used cars there in the States?
the scapegoat
     
Laminar
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Oct 2, 2010, 11:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Buffy Summers View Post
Aren't we talking about a new (used) car.

Isn't there a market for used cars there in the States?
Good job.

     
Buffy Summers
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Oct 3, 2010, 05:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Good job.
I know.



the scapegoat
     
Paco500
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Oct 3, 2010, 08:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Well, looking at JD Power and Associate info, Mini Cooper has 125 problems per car VW GTI has 65 (although on their site, they both have the same 2 out of 5 rating).
I don't get this. In the UK, Minis and VWs are considered very reliable cars. The VWs, at least, may come from different factories- I think the US ones are built in Mexico (or is my info out of date?). But aren't all Mini's built in the same place?

Is it all perception or are these cars really less reliable in the US than in the UK? And if so, why?
     
ghporter
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Oct 3, 2010, 09:24 AM
 
VW announced in 2008 that they would build a plant in Tennessee. Their only other North American plant is indeed in Mexico, but it's not really clear if all US Volkswagen cars come from Mexico. Interestingly, VW America had been headquartered in Troy, Michigan, then Auburn Hills, Michigan. They moved in 2007 to Herndon, Virginia. Gotta wonder why they moved away from the headquarters area of the major US auto makers to Virginia...

Anyway, as far as I can tell, the Crowley, Oxfordshire, UK plant is THE Mini plant.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Thorzdad
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Oct 3, 2010, 09:35 AM
 
Don't some US-bound VWs still come from their Brazil factory? I know MkIV GTIs did. Not sure about the more recent cars, though.
     
hayesk
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Oct 3, 2010, 10:39 AM
 
My friend bought a City Golf (in Canada) three years ago - it was made in Brazil.
     
Laminar
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Oct 3, 2010, 10:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by Buffy Summers View Post
I know.
Are you suggesting that the OP go to Germany to buy a used car? I'm not sure how your reply is helpful.
     
And.reg
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Oct 3, 2010, 11:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
A good vomit is amazingly refreshing.
If your car makes you vomit, then I suggest debugging your air freshener.

Not that air fresheners attract bugs, but whatever.




By the way, you can get a solid 50-60 mpg with a mini cooper on the highway. One of my classmates drives hers all the time and I've never heard her complain about car maintenance.
     
downinflames68
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Oct 3, 2010, 12:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by Andrej View Post


By the way, you can get a solid 50-60 mpg with a mini cooper on the highway.
No you can't.
     
ghporter
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Oct 3, 2010, 12:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by downinflames68 View Post
No you can't.
Maybe YOU can't, but mileage is related to driving style. The same car driven by two different people will get different mileage depending on how these two people drive. A very conservative driver can get a much higher mileage than an aggressive driver in that same car. Factor in "driving within the speed limit" versus "pushing the limit of tolerance," and you have another level of complication.

My Civic is rated at a higher mileage than I typically get. I keep the A/C on almost all the time, and I don't take special pains to maximize my mileage. A friend has a different year Civic that gets better mileage than mine-and better than his sticker mileage-because he's pretty much a fiend about NOT using A/C, driving it until the tank is almost dry, and other conservative techniques. If we were driving the same car, he'd still get better mileage than I do for just that reason-different driving styles.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 3, 2010, 01:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by downinflames68 View Post
No you can't.
Not driving like a total asshole greatly improves the mileage of ANY car.
     
downinflames68
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Oct 3, 2010, 01:54 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Maybe YOU can't, but mileage is related to driving style. The same car driven by two different people will get different mileage depending on how these two people drive. A very conservative driver can get a much higher mileage than an aggressive driver in that same car. Factor in "driving within the speed limit" versus "pushing the limit of tolerance," and you have another level of complication.

My Civic is rated at a higher mileage than I typically get. I keep the A/C on almost all the time, and I don't take special pains to maximize my mileage. A friend has a different year Civic that gets better mileage than mine-and better than his sticker mileage-because he's pretty much a fiend about NOT using A/C, driving it until the tank is almost dry, and other conservative techniques. If we were driving the same car, he'd still get better mileage than I do for just that reason-different driving styles.
Dude. This may surprise you but i am a hypermiler. My commuter is a 91 civic with a bazillion miles that's been slightly aero modded. By honing my driving techniques I've gotten progressively better mileage. I shut my engine off on downhills, I draft behind larger vehicles, etc etc.



There is no way you're going to get 50-60mpg in a Mini cooper. The aero is just not there.
     
downinflames68
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Oct 3, 2010, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Not driving like a total asshole greatly improves the mileage of ANY car.


1991 Honda Civic Sedan LX Gas Mileage (Crusty) - EcoModder.com
     
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Oct 3, 2010, 01:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
Not driving like a total asshole greatly improves the mileage of ANY car.
Is there a sign for that?
     
And.reg
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Oct 3, 2010, 03:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by downinflames68 View Post
No you can't.
Really?

Well then how come I can get 27-33 mpg on the highway with a 2004-model 4x4, including spare tire on the back? A smaller car will get better mpg.

P.S. 60 mpg is rather lousy for hybrids. We should be trying for 100 mpg.
     
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Oct 3, 2010, 03:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by Andrej View Post
Well then how come I can get 27-33 mpg on the highway with a 2004-model 4x4, including spare tire on the back?
Usually it's because you're talking about the Imperial gallons used in the UK, which are bigger than US gallons. It's just a guess, but are you?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 3, 2010, 04:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by downinflames68 View Post
I shut my engine off on downhills,
You and I obviously don't drive the same kinds of cars.

On the ones I usually drive, that shuts off the steering servos and brake pedal booster.

Ack!

(I just put 'em in neutral when coasting. Obviously, not automatics, but I think I've only ever driven one automatic in my life.)
     
Laminar
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Oct 3, 2010, 04:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
You and I obviously don't drive the same kinds of cars.

On the ones I usually drive, that shuts off the steering servos and brake pedal booster.

Ack!

(I just put 'em in neutral when coasting. Obviously, not automatics, but I think I've only ever driven one automatic in my life.)
Hypermiling isn't about safe driving.
     
downinflames68
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Oct 3, 2010, 04:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
You and I obviously don't drive the same kinds of cars.

On the ones I usually drive, that shuts off the steering servos and brake pedal booster.

Ack!

(I just put 'em in neutral when coasting. Obviously, not automatics, but I think I've only ever driven one automatic in my life.)
If it's a big downhill, you click the engine off til the RPMs drop to zero. Then put the key back to run, and shift into nuetral. Let you foot off the clutch, and coast. By putting the key back to run, it prevents the steering column from locking. You do lose power steering, but that isn't a big deal at high speed, and you still have power brakes due to the pressure in the booster, but it only lasts for a few seconds of braking action. Once you're at the bottom of the hill, put into whatever gear you want, and let out the clutch.

http://ecomodder.com/forum/EM-hyperm...ecodriving.php
     
Spheric Harlot
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Oct 3, 2010, 05:00 PM
 
Yes, I gathered all that. It's happened to me when the engine cut out due to a defect.

It seems completely - pardon me - idiotic to do this voluntarily. Might as well blindfold yourself and remove your seatbelt - go all the way if your going to willfully eliminate safety margins. Brakes? Power steering? My granddad had none of that, and spent ten years of his life with a silver watch up his arse, so there!
     
Cold Warrior
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Oct 3, 2010, 05:50 PM
 
Doesn't it use more fuel to restart the engine than one would save by turning it off downhill? Seems more efficient to just take the foot off the accelerator to coast.
     
 
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