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©October 2001

Carol Jane Remsburg



Car Shopping






The idea of car shopping didn't just begin with that tempting video that came in the mail the other day, it's been building for some time.  I've had my car for over twelve years now and its age is beginning to tell in a myriad of ways that aren't just obvious to the owner.  Yet the five-minute video re-focused my attention. 


Two years ago the great debate began in the house as to which one of use was going to get a new vehicle.  I kept looking at the budget and pleaded to keep what we had.  And since I didn't take the initiative, hubby did.  His 8-year-old truck was simply worn out.  It was time.  We bit the bullet and purchased a very nice new truck—his heart's desire.  Facing a 6-year loan, I knew I would have to make my car last a good while longer.


The big things wrong with my car are a constant worry, like the oil leak that's getting progressively worse and how she'll stall suddenly on occasion.  Then there's that new noise, nearly like a burr in low gear and how I've had to make her shift gears by letting off the gas over the last four years.  I think about those things when I'm driving the car and when I'm not.  My unease has grown with each passing month that I won't be able to make this car last as long as I want to. 


But since that video promising 0% financing and deep discounts arrived, all the little things wrong with my car began to bother me more.  It's how a headlamp will suddenly go or that my windshield sprayers only spray the passenger side.  It's how my blinkers work sometimes and then don't.  It's that the car's air conditioner up and died six years ago and every summer is a baking hell.  Now the fan in the car refuses to work no matter how many fuses I change.  Then there is the power window—the driver's side of course.  The window is out of alignment and cannot completely close—the cost of fixing that on this old import is just too astronomical to bear so when I drive the window blows in air and sometimes rain.  It's also how this car eats brakes—a new set approximately every 24,000, that's five times since I bought her new.  I don't know what it would be for someone else who actually rode the brakes.


With all that said, you'd think I'd hate this car.  I don't.  Actually it's saved my bacon a few times in the past.  There are things about the car that I still love.  It handles supremely well on the road as long as there is no snow.  That is due in part to the fact that I will ONLY ride on Michelin tires after having learned my lesson. 


This car is also quite forgiving.  You should have seen the look on the mechanic's face when he discovered that I'd been riding with a broken universal joint for almost two years and the only way I could get it to stop that awful noise was to drive 70 mph down the highway.  After his explanation of just how close to death I'd been come, not just once, but each time I drove the car, well, you should have seen my face then.


Certain things in this car still work well, the sound system, the power seats, and the "butt" warmers.  For years I have driven down the road with confidence in the knowledge of how well constructed my car is in case of an accident.  And it's over time that I've gotten used to all of her quirks.


Now the big stuff and the little stuff are nagging at me.  Part of me says that it's time to make the leap simply because the deals may be much better now than they will be later.  Sales are slow due to the crisis and the dealers may be willing to make a good deal.


Then there was the consideration of what I'm looking for.  What I'd like and what I can afford are two entirely separate issues.  In my dreams I'd like an enormous "Hummer" with everything.  Few can afford that.  Still, I'd like a fully loaded Expedition by Ford and I can't afford that either.  It will likely either a Ford Explorer Sport or a Ford Escape.  Now the Escape is small but still taller than my car.  I want height but can only offer so much.  I do want A/C and power windows and doors and a V6 with the 4-Wheel Drive.  So, compact is how I'm going to have to go—but ONLY if the price is right.


The invitation is for this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  Will I actually do this and forsake my long-suffering "Duchess?"  Tune in next week to find out. 


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