My First Car: A Major Purchase Update, in Three Parts Because Blogs Are Short….

Posted on December 4, 2010 No Comments


At 28, I passed my first driver’s exam. Upon hearing this news, I cried. In the car. With the instructor.  I gave my dad a thumbs up from behind the wheel. Standing outside the DMV, he began to tear up.

My dad is not a crier. I think there have only been three other times in my life when I’ve seen him cry. But getting a license had been a long journey for me. I took the exam at age 16, and again at age 21. I began to think I would never drive. Getting my license was my Mount Everest. And my dad is a car guy, so seeing his oldest child earn her license after more than 10 years of trying (ok, half-hearted trying) was surely monumental. I was a licensed driver. We celebrated over brunch at a diner. The world rejoiced at the magnificence of my accomplishment.

At 31, I undertook another previously unimaginable feat. I bought a car. Here is my harrowing story, the first of three parts (because blog writing is supposed to be short and I wasn’t blogging when this epic saga unfolded).

I had been thinking about buying a car for at least a year. I was previously exclusively driving my man-friend’s 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse, affectionately named Carmen. Carmen was 10 years old, and though we loved that spiffy little silver firecracker and she was totally paid off, lately she was requiring monthly repairs – she needed new breaks, she had cracks in her underside, the engine was overheating regularly, and on and on. We were spending $500 here, $200 there. I started to question the value of making monthly repairs vs. making new car payments. Why sink so much money into something that only had a couple years left?

I had a few other reasons for wanting a new car. Carmen wasn’t reliable enough to take on road trips anymore. And since we use the train to commute to work daily, our car only serves two purposes: running errands locally, and traveling long distances. Furthermore, now that we’ve been doing more active pursuits like biking and triathlons, we were always borrowing my mom’s SUV (a Hyundai Santa Fe) for our road trips.  Carmen could only fit two people and a few bags in the trunk. Putting a hitch on to haul cargo wasn’t an option; she rode so low I tore skirt seams getting in and out of the car. And roof racks aren’t made to go with an eclipse. By last Spring, we were putting the money into repairs simply to run errands.

Around the same time that Carmen was sputtering, I finished payment on my student loans (hurrah!). I knew we needed a car, and I had some additional disposable income. The timing couldn’t have been better. I was about to do the unthinkable: my quest for a new car had begun.

(Stay tuned for Part II: Exploration (aka. Shopping Around) coming tomorrow…)

Category: Life
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