I’ve only ever purchased one car that I actually went shopping for. I was still in college, likely going to graduate school the next year, and needed to have a way to get there!
No longer tucked safely into a pedestrian-friendly, small college campus, I’d have no choice but to obtain transportation to travel from a suburban apartment to the urban campus of my graduate school.
I went shopping with my dad. Under the guise that my earned scholarship money would be utilized to purchase said car, we scoured dealerships for a sound, reliable, used car whose price wouldn’t break the bank.
I ended up with an early 90s Toyota Corolla, and I kept it until 2005. My poor husband ended up driving this later because I usually had the responsibility of taking the kids to caregivers and preschool.
My current vehicle was a bargain from a friend who maintained a fleet of cars for his business. He kept them until they were out of their bumper-to-bumper warranty, and found a worthy recipient at an amazing price. I thought I’d won the lottery.
Alas, I’ve driven this car for 12 years, and in its advanced age, I’ve poured about $1,000 into it about every 6 months. Tires, brakes, fixing the air conditioning, a new starter. And the key fob no longer works. It’s at almost 300,000 miles. Lovely. But we’ve reached the “add oil every week and pray” stage of its life. I’m not happy about it.
The thing is, I love my car. It’s a Honda. Sure, it’s got some problems. There’s definitely something going on with the power steering, as the steering wheel no longer sits level. It vibrates violently when accelerating between 50 and 60 mph. (My daughter went so far as to give it the nickname “Parkinson’s Car.”) And it also complains with extreme turns. And apparently, I will receive a recall notice soon, something about the potential for the rear axle to spontaneously combust. Sigh.
But, oh, the agony of acquiring a car payment. Who can actually afford a car right now?
I almost bought a used Toyota Rav 4. I’m lucky that I have a friend in the car business. It seemed like a good deal.
I only had 4 requests: a functional key fob, cloth seats (because Anne the Vegan cannot drive a car with leather seats!), Bluetooth, and a rear camera. You know, most of the features of every modern-day car.
I pulled out of the dealer lot in my potential new car, drove to a restaurant to meet my family, got out of the car, hit that key fob button, and NOTHING.
Shit. The key fob doesn’t work! And as OCD as I am about locking my vehicle, I love that satisfying sound of the beep indicating my car is safely locked.
Plus, sitting in that Toyota was like visiting a foreign country. Nothing felt like my Honda.
And on the way home with it, all of the safety features popped up on the dash with errors. Nice. I called my friend. She was speechless. She sent a tow truck for it, and we are starting over.
So, here’s the dilemma in the current car market. We typically buy used ones, however, they are so expensive still! So do I go with something smaller and new? This is where I’m leaning.
But I will miss my old car. I love her so much. She’s been reliable until recently. She has a 6-disc CD changer, which makes the music lover in me very happy! We became inseparable for the year I did home health. And she has taken me on numerous adventures.
Is it weird to grieve the loss of a car?
Well, I don’t know what I will end up buying, but I will have to make a decision soon. And I will have to say goodbye to my beloved car.
I hate that I will have to work more just to have a car to drive to work. And I am the absolute worst at making decisions about big purchases. The whole situation makes me a giant ball of anxiety. Wish me luck.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.
One thought on “Why Buying a Car Sucks”
It’s no weird at all! For many people, purchasing a car is a big purchase. It represents a phase in your life or follows you through many. And Americans love our cars… we spend so much time there. We give them pet names. We personalize license plates. Some adorn them with stickers representing values, beliefs, places we’ve been, personal accomplishments, etc. Our cars are so much more than just a machine. You’ll find what’s right for you for the journey ahead 💚
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