jetsetgreen

Monday, January 26, 2009

Personal Stimulus Package (not as dirty as it sounds)

Upon reflection, it became apparent that my car had reached the end of its natural life when it overheated while idling for 10 minutes in a parking lot on the coldest morning of the year.

It’s not like there weren’t other clues: the quart of oil a month it seemed to drink, when the rear defroster gave out, the rusty gashes in the passenger side, the long-gone clear coat, the unraveling upholstery, the power nothing.

“Could I get a new car?” I asked Other Half.
“No,” he said cruelly and with what I'm pretty sure was a sneer (could have been just gas.) (Frozen chimis.)

I loved that car, my very first car; paid off for ten years—practically my dowry—but I’m over it.

This morning the doors were frozen shut. I had to use my considerable might to yank open the rear passenger side for E.G, which caused the black rubber seal to come off. The seal wouldn’t go back on. I couldn’t shut the door. I drove E.G. to school with the door half open, begging him to get his fingers out of the crack! I never thought I’d ever mean more than his underwear.

Oh yeah, and

THE HOLE IN THE FLOOR.

The hole in the floor where pieces of ice fly up and hit my legs, or my hand while I’m shifting, and sometimes my face, the hole that the floor mat will only cover when it feels like it (which is never.)

Look, I’m all for being frugal, but my car has crossed the line to unsafe. I don't want to drive the kids in it anymore. I don't like having the check engine light go on and wondering if I'm going to make it home tonight. When I took it in for the inspection a couple months ago I mentioned, knowing it was probably futile, that the check engine light comes on intermittently. They laughed in my face. This car is an ’89, ma’am, the check engine light is going to be on a lot. Well I know that, but can you tell my husband?

No airbags, no anti-lock brakes, no LATCH tethers for the car seats, no side impact protection, no impact protection whatsoever, really. The seat belts no longer retract, which means you do that awesome thing where you close your car door and slam the buckle, breaking it bit by bit. And why don’t you notice? Because you have to use your quads to close those doors.

At least it’s still got its sweet tape deck.


I’m done. I’m out. It’s time.


So tell me, Internets, what kind of car do I really need to buy?

59 comments:

petullant said...

I posted a guide to car buying last year when I was in the same situation (my engine died): http://www.specsappeal.net/archives/2008/10/laura_llews_gui.html

I think I skipped the part where I researched all the cars though. I settled on a Honda Civic. (I really liked the design of Honda Accords but they were just barely out of my budget.) They last forever, and the newer ones also got very good consumer report ratings. My gas mileage is AWESOME too, and I'm really happy with it thus far.

Stay away from models (of any kind of car) that have just been redesigned that year or the year before. Evidently, it takes a few years to get all the kinks worked out under the hood which is why I would absolutely not ever recommend buying a 2002 - 2004 Nissan Altima.

jennie w. said...

I know you'll screech when I say this, but my Honda minivan is pretty much the best car ever. I would marry it if I could.

lisa said...

Does it really matter WHAT it is at this point? Pretty much anything is gonna be an improvement, right? :)

A Few Tacos Shy... said...

We just bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna (minivan). Well, when I say bought, I mean got student loans to help us buy... I love it but you may not want that much vehicle, in which case you should get anything Toyota or Honda, they last forever!

And I know, I took the "I will never drive a minivan" vow too but once you take a roadtrip and can easily fit 3 kids and copious amounts of crap and still have leg room, you kind of give up your pride..

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Oh! I have so many opinions on the matter.

I heart VW's, but we're taking ours in today to get $1000+ of work on it. (OUCH.) Too expensive to fix.

Get a Honda. Or a Toyota. But don't (call me what you will...) get an American made car. They are just not worth it.

I second the Honda Odyssey. That's what I'm getting when I win the lottery. Or someone dies and leaves me some money. Or I sell a kidney. Whichever is first.

Monica said...

Anything from the 90's on would be an improvement (except American made cars, they kind of suck). I to really like Honda and Toyota although they are expensive.

FoxyJ said...

We bought a Kia Rondo last year and totally love it. It's a little funky on the outside, but very comfortable on the inside and it gets great highway mpg. Plus it's only the size of a regular car and you can fit seven people in it. If you're planning on having more than three kids, it would probably be best to just get a van or to use the Rondo as a second car. We love it because we can carry our kids and plenty of stuff, or if we have people visit there's an extra seat or two. And Kia has a great warrenty program (same as Hyundai) and the price was low.

Kalli Ko said...

buy foreign. the just make better cars. that or my father in law has successfully ingrained in me his crazy foreign car propaganda. that and all u.s. car makers are pretty much on the same sinking ship.

citymama1 said...

Join the Prius brigade! We're nerdy and proud. It's big...enough (2 kids + 70 lbs dog= piece of cake) and can I just say it costs less then $15 to fill her up these days? Mahvelous.

or get a minivan. whatever.

Azúcar said...

We still have just two kids, even though we might have another, and I will use this car on my commute (empty of children) so I didn't want to get a mini van because the gas mileage won't be worth it.

I was considering a Camry Hybrid, or maybe a Rav4 (with the 3rd row?) but I'm wondering if there are other cars I could be thinking of?

b. said...

I love my new car...but realize it's only temporary.

Buy foreign.

Azúcar said...

Do they make Bentleys for under 20k?

amelia said...

I have always been of the mindset that foreign sucks, particularly Fords. My husband's extended family owns a dealership, so those are the only cars we get (discount!). BUT. We got the Ford Fusion in 2006 and IT IS AWESOME. It's consistently getting all these car awards and we've never had to take it in the shop.

Azúcar said...

I've also been reading lately that the Americans have improved in quality and are nearly the same as the foreign makes, especially Fords.

Are Aston Martins domestic? NO?

wendysue said...

Wanna buy my '93 Altima? It still has some good years in it. . .and a sweet tape deck. However the fuse went out for the cruise control AND the horn. . .we can't seem to get it to work again.

emily said...

Honda Odyssey! Those aren't under $20k though...Buy a Hyundai. They're cheap and have a wicked awesome warranty.

Johnna said...

I really think your perfect car would be an Audi A4. With Clive Owen driving it.

FoxyJ said...

I know a lot of people who are very happy with their Hyundais. We almost bought an Elantra until we realized we needed more room and got the Kia. Kia recently merged with Hyundai and they offer the same 10-year warranty. And they are cheap!

kristenlibrarian said...

I have a 2003 Toyota Corolla and love it. It is kind of small for a family though.

My dad recently bought a used
car, and he got an awesome deal on it. It was a 07 or 08 driver's ed car. Only had 1,000 miles or so on it and he got it for $11,000, which I think is a pretty good deal. Just something to think about!

Kacy said...

I would get a Subaru Wagon. Car Talk always recommends them. I had one with two kids and I loved. (People will say it's a lesbian car--don't believe them.)

rookie cookie said...

http://www.motherproof.com. Car reviews by moms.

Ticonderoga forever.

Cafe Johnsonia said...

We also love our Toyota Corolla. If you aren't going to be toting kids with you--definitely ditch the minivan idea.

The Toyota Camry hybrid would be great.

Or you could go for a convertible, which is what my husband thinks is the IDEAL commuter car. (He doesn't have one...yet.)

Rachie said...

Honda Civic, Honda Civic! It will last you FOREVER. (It comes in hybrid, too.) Mine's a 2002 and, when it's clean, still looks (and runs lite it's) brand new.

If you don't go with the Civic (or Accords work too), I am also of the opinion that you stick only to Japanese cars. You just can't trust their American and German counterparts. **gets shifty-eyed**

Lindsey said...

Next time will you post about a personal stilmulus package that IS as dirty as it sounds? Because I just gotta know what that is.

I am not a mini-van person. I 3.9 kids and I WON'T GET ONE. I don't care if I have to haul all their little butts up into the car 25 times a day because I am just that vain. NO, I won't do it. HOWEVER, I hate gas guzzlers..so, My honda Pilot suits me just fine. I am not crazy about the new body style, so, get an '06 (make yourself feel better and save money by buying a used one) and get it loaded with Options. You will L.O.V.E.

Someone I know just got a Saturn Outlook. Honestly, I was impressed. Fitted like a mini-van, but didn't really look like one from the outside. My kinda car. (Really, it was cool) Have fun! Car shopping is the BEST!

Lindsey said...

NOT 13.9 kids... THat should read I HAVE 3.9 kids.

veedaloca said...

now that I have two kiddos, I am wishing for something bigger to transport them in. maybe like a minivan. i'm not above a minivan.

(driving a vehicle without latch tethers is another story. no way. Holes in the floor and all, I'm amazed by you!)

BowlerGirl said...

I vote the Subaru. Although I'm not transporting around tiny tots. . .I have been successfully hauling around all the young women from my ward in it. It's a winner with the all-wheel drive, comfy seating and lots of storage.

Kathy said...

Funny we just picked up our 2003 (??) Subaru Outback from the mechanic. We drove with the check engine light on for about 2 months and one day my husband came home and said "the car healed itself - the check engine light went out! Woo hoo). The next day, it broke down, stranding, thankfully him and not me, for 3 hours in the -20 degree weather waiting for CAA to show up.

La Yen said...

If you are buying new, go for a Hyundai. Serio. Used, I second the Fusion. Really nice. REALLY.

Azúcar said...

I never buy new; instant depreciation makes me grumpy.

This is me said...

I gotta vote for the Subaru Outback wagon. It was perfect when we had two kids (but wouldn't fit the third). I really, really miss that car.
My parents have always been Camry drivers and my husband drives a Chevy Malibu and I love both of those. They fit two kids in the back very nicely and have very large trunks.

So you can fit all your junk in it.

Shelby Lou said...

buy a toyota camry. they are FILLED with air bags. :D

Shirley said...

See who's still in business the day you go shopping.

Shirley said...

...or----go to that site, what's it called? Right on the tip of my tongue. Oh yeah, Autoblog?

Azúcar said...

HA!

Laura said...

That was funny!

I know about the economy and all, but go used and foreign. Honda or Toyota. You can't go wrong.

Rynell said...

Honda, Toyota or (my personal favorite) Nissan. We've driven Hondas and Nissans into the ground. Seriously do not get a stupid American made model or you'll be regretting it like I am my Chevy minivan that breaks down constantly.

Good luck!

fijiangirl said...

Having owned two Chevies’s and drove them for over 200,000 miles with only normal wear and tear I don't understand everyone's beef with American Cars. Also my parents have driven Chevy’s and had one that almost had 300,000 miles before he needed to rebuild the engine. However, we just purchased a 2008 Honda Accord, it was in some kind of show so they had to mark it used instead of new! Luck us, we saved over $6,000 on the price. We actually can fit all 3 kids in car seats in the back of the Accord and still have plenty of room. I am falling in love with this car but will remain loyal to our great American Chevy’s. My suggestion is to pick the car and all the features you want. Then email all the dealerships with in 50 miles telling them what you want and what price you are willing to pay. Let them know you will be purchasing with in the week and that you have contacted other dealerships as well. Then you will have the offers pouring in and people will be willing to compete for your sale and you can get what you want at a great price. In this economy they are so desperate for a sale. I have a couple of friends who did that and got amazing deals on some great cars. Good Luck and have fun shopping.

batty said...

I found your blog thru Segullah. I never comment, but just had to on this one. Just a little background...My dad owns a used car lot, and I have worked for him for the past 5 years. I get sick of cars often, and trade them alot. I have had American made and foreign made, minivans, cars, toys, you name it. My husband thinks I'm nuts but he puts up with it. We have four drivers and four vehicles. I have loved cars my whole life since I started going to car shows when I was little. There are many great cars out there. Hyundai is ok, but around 100,000 you may be sad. VW - stay away from. I love them, but repairs are awful. Seriously, the two best are Honda and Toyota. I really try not to be biased, but it's true. Of almost every model in their line-ups. I always thought they were a little boring, design wise, but longevity wise there is no contest. I am partial to Honda's, only because I love the Pilot and the Element. Anyway, there's my 2 cents.

soybeanlover said...

http://nicole.kaimori.com/blog/2009/01/dear-azucar.html

Jen, RN said...

So I bought a Honda CR-V last year so that I can have the safety of a bigger car with great gas mileage. I got the 2004 version because I think the new ones are kind of ugly. I haven't had any problems with it and I love it-wouldn't trade it for anything. And since it's a Honda it will last forever-good luck! Car shopping sucks but it's worth it when it's over...

Shirley said...

Okay, for real this time. I have a 2006 Toyota (Corolla) Matrix. I bought it because the '91 Tercel I drove for 3 years never needed a repair. Matrix is built on a Corolla frame so it is classified a 'crossover' as opposed to an SUV (built on truck frames). I get 26-ish mpg and it has been a little dream car. When I took some family for a spin in my new ride my brother commented from the back seat, "Wow Sis, you got a REAL car!" lol I have had to do nothing to it mechanically in the 3 years I've had it. It has a substantial back seat and pretty good room in the back section for groceries or whatever. The '06 I know also has those infant seat hook thingies...if ya need that kinda thing.

Happy hunting!
p.s. I gave my (other) brother my Tercel and he has had no trouble with it. It is 18 years old!

Aunt Annie said...

Now that Obama is in office you can afford to buy all of the meds you so obviously need!!

Azúcar said...

I love that because I don't like President Bush, along with 78% of the American people, you think I need meds.

La Yen said...

I am actually ON meds (two, in fact!) and I voted Republican.


Oh, and I think Anne-Marie's husband works on a car lot...

Sheena! said...

Aunt Annie, are you Marianne? I've missed you!

Emily said...

I second Batty's comment, go for the Toyota or Honda. You won't be sorry.
Run far far away from any Hyundai's, especially if you buy used.

Aunt Annie said...

I know that many people don't like him. (I wasn't so thrilled with him either). I just thought the "burn in hell" comment was a bit harsh to post on Courtney's blog.

Azúcar said...

Courtney is one of my best friends; I know her. I would never post anything on her blog that she wouldn't approve of or find amusing. It should occur to you that I might have had her permission.

Shirley said...

Obama is sponsoring meds? COOL! Give him a call, maybe he can get you a deal on a used car, too!

Aunt Annie said...

You are like talking to a 7th grader. "She's one of my best friends...I know her...it should occur to you that I might have had her permission." So let me get this straight. When you feel like commenting you call Courtney and run your comment by her? I have never heard of "pre-approved" comments. This is all just too weird. I feel as though I'm in the middle of a "Twilight Zone"episode. So sweetie, you reconsider those meds. I won't be back, so if you and your little blogging buddies decide to make more snide remarks about me it will be all for nothing, as I will never see them. Toodles.

La Yen said...

I am glad I am not in seventh grade. And I am glad that you made a comment that made her laugh, rather than one that made her roll her eyes. (Because she does roll her eyes, even though it seems impossible for her to do that AND suffer through the stigmata.)

And I bet EG will be begging you to go on meds when he is in seventh grade--so he can get that little buzz in his thermos.

Shirley said...

SO! What kinda car ya gettin'?

Azúcar said...

Can't afford one now, what with all the meds I need to take.

Shirley said...

You can have some of mine if ya want. I have lots. :D

wait. thats illegal. we'll get some other ne'er do well posting about the crime of dispensing pharmaceuticals without a license. (call me, we'll talk)

kiki said...

AUNT ANNIE, DON'T PRETEND LIKE YOU DON'T CHECK BACK EVERY HOUR TO SEE IF WE'RE TALKING ABOUT YOU!

She needs to remove the long stick of uncomfortable girth shoved up her chute.

When are all the blogging buddies going to get together for a lunch to so we can run all our comments past Courtney and to decide what car you should get? (Something Japanese but made in America.)

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Oh...I've been missing out on all the fun over here.

ceholman44 said...

Azucar: I am a faithful follower of your blog for a while. I never read comments but today I thought I would give some car advice but then I read the Aunt Annie comment, Say it ain't so the... "burn in hell" comment. I do not read cjane comments.

Will you fill me in on the context. Oh and this is my first time commenting on ANY outside blog I read. I hope no one I know sees my name-they will make fun of me forever. I dont know what has gotten into me. I am way cooler than to leave a comment on a blog of a person I do not associate with:) But I guess we are in seventh grade so it's all good.

Clyde said...

Hondas are great if you're hunting for a good looking-medium size-great milage sedan-style car... but I perfectly can see you in a car with a minivan confort inside but a different look (a.k.a SUV look) outside - in case a third kiddo shows up soon. :)

Either one of those, or a Hummer to fit all your blogging buddies in a fun Saturday night outing!