Trading in VW Beetle 2000 for Hybrid

My husband bought a 2000 VW New Beetle two years ago with an extended warranty, which expires at the end of February 2011. Our check engine light came on over the holidays and repairs are over $1,000 (knock on wood-- looks like the repairs are covered by the warranty).

Since the warranty is almost up, we want to trade in the Beetle and avoid the expensive repairs we have heard so much about. Plus, we want even better fuel economy.

We know we want a hybrid. (Actually, we really want the Chevy Volt, but we live in an apartment building, so we can’t plug it in).

Is the Prius the best option? We looked at the Ford hybrids, but they seem to be much more expensive.

We live in Salt Lake City. Although we pretty much stay in the valley and out of the treacherous mountain roads during winter, we do encounter snow here in the city. Will a Prius be OK in that? What about for times we do drive on steep roads in the city or during road trips in summer?

Any car can have expensive repairs. There are stories about both VW’s and Hybrids and their cost of ownership (repairs).

Any car can and likely will have repair cost from time to time. There are a number of factors determining the number of and the cost of repairs.  First and foremost is luck.  The second is the care the car receives and driving conditions. While there are lots of studies, I have yet to see on that has done the work needed to have clean numbers.

Having said that, I would guess that VW’s and hybrids do have a little higher than average repair cost. However I would suggest that owner variations, which studies do not generally address, are a far better indicator of future repair cost and reliability.

I spend most of my professional career estimating the life of industrial equipment. The one that really surprised me was the life of vehicles used on site of a steel mill. As I was being driven around the plant the corporate people asked me how old I would guess the pickup we were in was. I considered the conditions and I guessed 5 years. No it was about 6 months and it was about to be junked. When I was doing the numbers back in the office, the numbers supported what they said.

So why all that? Just this. If YOU take proper care of your car. Get all the recommended maintenance etc. then, no matter what brand of model it is, it will out last the average car and cost you far less to own in the long run. The owner who does not care for their car or who has different conditions than you do will have different results.

I don’t have the numbers, but I’d put my money on the drivers of different makes of cars having a general tendency for better or worse care of the car based on the make they purchase.

So final comment, buy what you like and take care of it. Buying something because you think it will last longer but you really don’t like, may cost you more in the long run.

Prius is fine at winter roads equipped with winter(snow) tires.

As far as long steep grades they are like a somewhat underpowered car once the battery charge expends. However on the downhill the battery’s get charged up nice and you can speed back up the grade and notice a drop in power at some point. It works overall.

Great points. We are on top of maintenance and take good care of the car.

We still got hit with this repair, but the car is 11 years old with 79,000 miles and has never had a major repair (just minor things).

We bought it used, but it only had one previous owner who hardly ever drove it. My husband has a somewhat long commute, so he has certainly put some miles on it.

Thanks for your input. It gives us something to think about.

Awesome. Thank you. That is exactly the information we were looking for.

Here’s a great option for you:

Next time it snows, head over to your local Toyota and Honda dealers.
Test drive all their hybrid vehicle in the snow.

Then choose which one you like the most.

And doesn’t the Volt have a gas engine that’s sole purpose is the recharge the battery?
At the worst, you could always buy a portable gasoline generator, and use that to recharge your car while you’re at work. :wink:


Oh, of course. The only question will be how to fit that into my husband’s insane work schedule. I do not drive, so he gets to have all the test-drive fun. Well, I get to go along for the ride. :wink:

We just hoped to get input from hybrid car owners & make sure it wasn’t a waste of time to even consider one in this climate/region.

I’m not at all sure that a hybrid will give you the gas mileage you expect. Living in Salt Lake, I’m guessing that most of your driving is on interstates for fairly long distances.

The way a hybrid saves you gasoline: the electric motor deploys in relatively short stop and go type driving. While under electric power you’re not burning gasoline. Hybrid cars are designed for fuel economy in stop and go city driving.

The battery recharges from the gasoline engine, and also regeneratively from braking. Salt Lake is not your typical big city driving environment. Most of your driving will be under power from your gasoline engine, and you’ll be getting mileage in the high 30’s

The Prius wil be fine in snow in the valley - front wheel drive puts the engine weight over the drive wheels.

If I were you, I’d wait for serious diesel offering.

You are absolutely right. Most of my husband’s driving is on the interstate. Sure, he does a little driving in the city, but not nearly as much. Thank you for your comment.

I have a retired colleague who has a 2005 or 2006 Toyota Prius. He now has 90,000 miles on the car and has no major problems. His road mileage is between 45 and 50 mpg. I ride in it every other week for a 26 mile round trip to a band rehearsal. We have had 4 people, 4 music stands, 2 French horns, 1 trombone and 1 trumpet in the vehicle on the way to a performance.

My colleague also has a Ford Escape Hybrid. Most of the time they use the Prius for long (800 mile) road trips. The only time they used the Escape for a trip was when they took their dog. However, the dog passed away a couple of years ago, so the Prius is the road car.

I like riding in the Prius and have driven it on occasion. I think it would be a good option.

I have a friend who is now in his mid 80’s. He bought one of the first Toyota Prius that was available. On his way back to the midwest from the east coast in the middle of the winter, he hit a patch of “black ice” in Pennsylvania. The Prius went out of control and eventually rolled over 3 times. My friend had some bruises and a broken wrist, but survived the accident. He immediately bought a new later generation Prius to replace the one that was totaled. Every car this man has owned only has 2 speeds–stopped and wide open. I imagine he was moving right along when he had the accident, but he never 'fessed up to the speed he was traveling.

The repairs were covered. However, we took the Beetle in for scheduled maintenance. The timing belt needs to be replaced, which they are estimating at $800. That will not be covered by the warranty, obviously.

Question: Since we want to trade in the car, should we replace the timing belt or just trade it in as is? Will replacing the timing belt help us to get maximum trade-in value or will it just be a sinkhole? My other big worry is not replacing it and the car breaking down before we can trade it in.

Sorry if this is a stupid question. Remember, we are not used to cars. This was our first car in 13 years, and the first one we ever had to get repaired or consider trading in.

You need two things in order for a hybrid to be a good economical choice vehicle.

  1. Most of your driving should be around town driving. If not forget-about-it. The hybrid gets its best mileage in city driving. If mostly highway driving then you’re better off getting a non-hybrid small vehicle.

  2. Average 30k/yr or more.

the timing belt is routine maintenance. I guess you have to decide whether you want keep your car who’s history you know compared to a purchase of a used (?) vehicle. If you are planning to purchase new there are many options to choose from…reliable cars with good mpg toyota, forester, honda -

Oh yes, we are aware it is routine maintenance. That’s why I said the warranty would not cover it. Thank goodness it covered the other repairs, though.

We are just confused about whether we should plug that kind of money into the car since we plan to trade it in so soon (for a new car). We are not sure what that does to trade-in value. Would we lose money because the repair isn’t “worth it” this close to trading it in? Or gain better trade-in value to make up for the cost? Then there is the risk of the car breaking down before we can find a new car.

I personally want to take care of the timing belt maintenance asap so we have plenty of time to look for a new car without worrying about breakdowns. Hubby, however, is leaning toward not doing the maintenance and trading it in as is. Who is right?

After researching more, we are interested in the Honda Fit sport or 2011 Ford Fiesta. We still dig the Prius, but the price tag seems too high.

I believe you have a non-interference engine…which means that if the belt breaks the engine will just stop. If the scheduled maintenance calls for the belt to be replaced now, it should be or you are gambling that it will last until you sell the car. No body is right or wrong. Just follow the maintenance schedule and perhaps you will keep the beetle a little longer. Read up on timing belts - see

Thank you. I convinced hubby that we ought to get the maintenance and go from there. It would certainly give us more time to decide on a new car (or change our minds and not buy one). I never like to make decisions like that in a hurry.

That’s good. The salespeople can always smell the desperation in their customers. Also, if the Fiesta interests you, check out the Mazda 2.

It’s really a moot point, if you decide against the timing belt, When you trade it in, the dealer will just deduct however much it will cost him/her to do job from the trade-in price.

That makes perfect sense. Thank you.