For some time I have been ruminating about what to do about my dying car. It is 13 years old and has cost us a lot of money in repairs. I was saving up cash to buy a newer car and go tot he point where I had enough cash to pay off a loan and thought that would be the prudent thing to do. So almost 2 months ago I did just that. And woo hoo! Isn’t that a great feeling. Walk into the bank, plop down an envelope of cash (feeling slightly like a stripper or mob member) and pay off a loan. How grand! I was betting on my car lasting me another year or so.
It has been acting up and it became obvious that the transmission was pending collapse but it’s been doing this for over 2 years and hadn’t died so I kept living in hope. See the first transmission was replaced when the car was only 5 years old, just before the warranty ended. It’s been 7 years since then . I think it was inevitable. On Monday, the car died on my way home from work.
It was a hot humid day and I drove a trunk full of stuff to the thrift shop for donation. On the way home, the car started bucking even before I drove it up any hills. Driving up the hill to my house it got pretty bad and the transmission service light came on. I barely got it to go up my driveway. Sigh.
My mechanic is pretty cool and actually came to my house to drive it to the garage. My car has been in his shop so much we are pretty much family at this point but still, that was a really nice touch. Yesterday I got the call that, yeah, it needs a new transmission and the cost of it would be the amount I have left to pay toward a newer vehicle. So we decided to replace it. Ya know, about a year before I wanted to. In fact, I was thinking that 3 years from now would have been great. I guess we don’t get to decide these things…
In a way, I’m kind of in shock. It really died. You wouldn’t know it by the outside. No rust. The leather interior is still in fairly good condition. The AC no longer works but I hate AC anyway. The CD player is perfect and the turbo works like a charm. Its kind of like someone who has a disease but looks great and everyone says how wonderful they look when really they are withering on the inside. Very sad. Looks can be deceiving.
I have been quite frugal since buying this car. Before that I made may foolish car decisions. Like not paying off one car before trading it in. Or buying a new car rather than repairing an older car that only needed brakes and tires. (I bet that car is still running) Actually, I think I’ve done that twice. But not this time. I bought it used, paid it off early, and have maintained it for 8 years. Actually, I bought it a month after I met my husband so the car and I have a history and good memories. I’ve thought about replacing it but just couldn’t bring myself to do it and I didn’t want a car payment.
Perhaps the car “knew” it was time. Perhaps stuff just breaks and is no longer worth fixing. Perhaps I was foolish to wait so long. Whatever it is, it is. Gotta move on.
I’ve taken a few cars for test drives over the past few months in anticipation of this and I thought I had decided on a smaller car with AWD. Slightly better gas mileage, still able to get up my hill yet short enough to get a kayak on to. My husband wasn’t crazy about my choice so we test drove a car yesterday that was slightly larger with even better gas mileage but it was new. New car, new model so it did not have a Consumer Reports rating. (I’m a total geek and live by Consumer Reports)
Today we test drove a used luxury vehicle (MEOW! So cool!) and a used mid-size SUV. Not so crazy about the SUV and the used luxury vehicle was uber nice, totally my style, but had higher mileage and the same price tag as both the new cars and the used SUV. Consumer reports raved about it except for that years electrical system which was eerily similar to my old car. They said the transmission wasn’t reliable. They were right and I wish I had read that ahead of time.
Then, an angel from heaven appeared and said she had her “old” car for sale. Its a 2012, has low mileage, serviced every 3000 miles, no accidents and super clean. She is a friend of mine and super nice and trustworthy. The car wasn’t one I had really considered but is actually quite similar to one I test drove. So we went for a test drive and it was great. The best part? It’s got an extended warranty and it’s about $10k LESS than what I would have spent on the other cars. How do you say no to that?
Ok, so I didn’t jump up and down and yell yes immediately. I still wanted to brood it over and make an informed decision. I like to calculate things to death. Consumer Reports highly recommends it as a used car and it gets the highest scores for reliability in all areas. It has most of the features I wanted and the ones it doesn’t have I can live without for now. So it struck me as I sat at the computer that I was being given exactly what I needed, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. In the end, I think it’s even better than what I thought I wanted.
See, I didn’t want a big loan breathing down my neck and that’s exactly what I would have gotten along with all of the cars we were looking at. I was uneasy about it and was even questioning how long it would take to walk to work. (The answer: too long) I don’t own a bike and don’t like bike riding particularly. There isn’t a good bike path on the way to work either and our local traffic isn’t exactly bike-savy. I had to get wheels but wasn’t feeling the love. Once we decided to go ahead with my friends car, my innards calmed down and now I am excited.
This morning the rest of my anxiety was eased when we walked into the bank and left 30 minutes later with a small loan approved. I called the insurance company and I already have insurance cards. My friend is delivering the car later and all I have left is (probably painful) trip to the DMV this week to get it registered. It’s been so easy so far, it’s almost scary. I guess when stuff goes so well, it was meant to be.
All this blathering on is just to say that sometimes stuff happens and it doesn’t seem so great. I am trying to be frugal and my car dies. I was trying to plan well for it’s replacement with something smaller and fuel efficient that was also reliable and highly recommended by Consumer Reports. I was trying to be “minimalist” about it, whatever that looks like. In the end, a really good decision was thrown in my lap like a gift and all the fretting over the past couple of months has been for nothing. Figures. Heh.
Think I’ll go have a drink now to go celebrate. Cheers!!