11 December 2011


I have the absolute worst luck with cars.  I can buy a car and have it go screaming in the void of Murphy's law within hours.

In 1998, my parents bought me a 1990 Ford Escort as a graduation present.  6 hours later, the timing belt broke on the freeway.  I fixed it, and nursed it through a couple of years until I broke my ankle while I was living in Seattle and having to drive a manual in rush hour traffic was not working out for me.

2001 - the Kia.  Great little car.  I once hit a pothole.  That bent the suspension and frame.  Oops.  It got totalled while I was underwater, and I had to refinance my house in 2004 to pay it off.

2004 - Borrowed a Jeep Cherokee. I drove it for a year. It's still in my front yard, as the owners moved to Germany (and then England) and the power of attorney ran out.  The water pump died, and the shop said that if I fixed it, it would probably only run for another six months anyway.

2005 - Bought a Chevy Corsica for $950.  The radiator cracked on my drive home.  There was a hole in the dash where the radio was supposed to be, and when winter hit, I discovered that the previous owner had bypassed the heater core instead of fixing it - so I had no heat.  I fixed the heater, and the radiator (Both, by myself, in my driveway.)  But, when the power steering fluid began to leak, I didn't bother to fix it.  I discovered that it was drive-able without the fluid, and well, when it leaked, the smoke gave be blood pressure problems and probably wasn't good for me.

I bought my last car in May of 2008, it was a 2000 Subaru Outback Limited, and it was beautiful.  Before the summer was over, I had not only jumped through a bunch of hoops to get it to pass emissions, but I had also replaced the head gasket.  I reasoned that this was not totally unexpected for a car with 140 thousand miles on it, and that If I just did the repairs, then I would have a reliable car.  I loved the car.  I loved everything about it.  Except for the fact that it had to go into the shop, over and over again, and every time It went in it cost me more than $2000 to have it fixed.  Plus the whole not having a car for a week at a time while they fixed it.  Or getting stranded on thanksgiving weekend in the middle of nowhere Washington with no heat in the car while it was 9 degrees outside (the second time the head gasket went).

Yesterday we took the Subaru to the shop to get looked at.  Diagnosis:  The head gasket, again.  The Catalytic Converter.  The water pump and timing belt, again.  The estimated bill:  $2800, and only because the parts from the last head gasket were still under warranty.

I couldn't do it anymore.  I had no faith that at the end of the day we were't going to be sitting at the mechanic again, sometime next year, with a car that wasn't worth as much as the repairs it needed - after the repairs were done.  So - we sold the Subaru to the mechanic.

Yesterday, we bought a certified 2009 Prius.  And then we decided that given my history, the extra money to extend the bumper-to-bumper warranty to 125,000 miles was definitely worth it.

So - Now we have a car payment.  And given that I have to start paying my student loans in January as well, we're going to have some adjusting to do.  But I just keep reminding myself that really the difference between car payments and repair bills is that car payments are predictable.  We're probably spending close to the same amount of money either way.

1 comment:

  1. So funny that you had a Chevy Corsica. That was my first car, and I loved it. It lasted forever, and I'm still amazed that it did.

    I drive a toyota yaris now, and I love it too. I hope your new prius is as good!


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