It happens so quickly: They learn to crawl, and then walk, and before you know it, you're helping them do their first oil change in their first new car.
A little more than six months ago, I contributed an article on my car shopping experiences with my daughter Priscilla.
Those ended with her purchase of a brand-new 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage in Sapphire Blue.
The Mirage was a totally new car in the American market then.
Its light weight (less than 2000 pounds), low price (starting around $13,000), and less-known brand led a lot of people to ask me how the car has worked out.
Odometer reading on 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage when SRS warning light appeared
The short answer: Great. Priscilla has enjoyed the freedom of movement that only car ownership provides. Her days of relying solely on public transportation, Zipcars, and the abiding patience of her boyfriend have passed.
While public transportation and her own feet still play their part, she has learned the joys of car ownership and how gracefully the Mirage zips around in city traffic.
With one exception, the car has been trouble-free for its first six months. At about 1500 miles, a warning light came on.
It indicated a problem with the SRS (supplemental restraint system, aka airbags) or possibly the seat-belt pre-tensioners--and it required a trip back to the dealer.
Cryptically, the technician said the fault was with the front-left airbag (there are seven airbags altogether), which is usually caused by a faulty wire.
But the technician also said nothing appeared to be wrong with the wire--so the shop turned the airbag back on.
In any case, the fault has not recurred, and Priscilla's baby has avoided the dealership since.
Of course, the little Mirage isn't an electric car, so its oil needed to be changed at 3000 miles.
Having seen her father change his own oil many times before, Priscilla decided she would do it herself.
This would have been easier if she had ever participated, but better late than never. She successfully changed the oil and filter on her own, and rotated the tires as well.
Aside from learning an important lesson--about not getting her long blonde hair underneath the wheels of the roll-around floor jack--she did very well.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES - Driven, April 2014
The other fluid in the car, gasoline, needs refilling more frequently than every 3000 miles, which brings us to the question of gas mileage.
The Mirage has the highest EPA fuel economy ratings of any non-hybrid /non-plugin car sold in the USA, at a combined 37 or 40 mpg for the five-speed and CVT versions respectively.
But those are EPA numbers, and everyone wants to know about real-world user results--which were all but unknown when she bought this new-to-the-market car six months ago.
The Mirage Forum has a tool for tracking user consumption figures that recently tallied up more than a million kilometers driven. It shows that the collective 42.9 mpg actually exceeds the EPA combined figures.
Additionally, Fuelly has tracked nearly 250,000 miles for 2014 Mirages; it shows a figure of 41.2 mpg at the time of this writing.
2014 Mitsubishi Mirage ES
As of November, my daughter averaged, a slightly less impressive, 37.9 mpg for the first 3000 miles, which closely matches the 37 mpg EPA combined for her preferred shift-it-yourself gearbox.
Considering that her driving is almost exclusively in the city, that number is quite respectable, and it keeps her cost of ownership low.
Another joy, is that at only $12,000 (after a $1,000 factory-cash incentive), she was able buy the car outright and skip the pesky monthly car payments that might have been needed had she bought a fancier car.
Looking forward, the future of her Mirage is uncertain as it looks like Priscilla might end up on the car-unfriendly island of Manhattan.
On the plus side, her dad might finally be able to get some extended driving time behind the wheel of this fun-to-drive minicar.