Boomerater™ Report: Buying a Hybrid Car

Readers like going green, but suggest studying driving habits, tax breaks, and costs.

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The Boomerater™ Report is our weekly collaboration with Boomerater. Boomerater is an online resource for baby boomers that covers topics such as finding a financial planner and searching for the perfect place to live. The site also contains forums where boomers can post questions and swap first-hand experiences.

In each report, we feature a Best Life question of the week on Boomerater for which we are looking to hear your advice and tips. This week, we would like to know if you have loaned or borrowed money from a family member because of the recession. Do you have any thoughts or advice for others? Go to Boomerater.com to share your story, and in the next report we will feature some of the responses.

Last week, we asked readers if they had bought or considered buying a hybrid car, and what advantages or disadvantages they may have encountered. Here are some of the member responses we received:

A. There are obvious environmental reasons to drive a hybrid, but you also may be able to get a generous tax credit. Before a model hits a certain threshold of cars sold, you may be able to get a federal income tax credit. You can find out the status of the different models. Also, some states exempt hybrids from sales tax.

A. I do a lot of local driving and get about 22 miles a gallon. You actually get better mileage in stop-and-go traffic, because when you apply the breaks it stores energy. At higher speeds the engine switches from electric to gas, so highway driving is less advantageous. But, one caveat—the engine has to heat up before the electric mode kicks in—so if you only drive very short distances, a hybrid may not make much of a difference in your fuel costs.

A. On some highways like here in Florida, you can travel in HOV lanes even if you are alone...check your state motor vehicle commission website.

A. I have been looking into purchasing a hybrid car and after doing some research, found a few negatives worth considering...obviously one of the main reasons is the higher price tag associated with a hybrid. But other things I read were that their battery packs made the car heavier, in different states there were extra fees for registering a hybrid, it may be harder to find spare parts for the car, and you could potentially be exposed to high voltage wires if you are in an accident. It’s worth thinking about these different negatives when considering about purchasing a hybrid...of course, there are many positives associated with helping the environment which may ultimately be more important, as well as that over the long run hybrid cars are cheaper than gasoline ones.

A. We just started to think about our next car and I want to do my share, but my commute to work is 99 percent highway. The hybrid technology won’t come into play since the brakes are not engaged as often as street driving. The obvious disadvantage to buying a hybrid is the additional expense. Before going further, I’m going to study how much of my total mileage is street driving during a two-week period. It may be close enough to make it worthwhile and feel proud about what I drive.

If there are questions on your mind that you would like answered by other people who have faced similar situations, or you have advice of your own to share, go to Boomerater.com and participate in the forums. Say that The Best Life sent you!