Thursday, June 11, 2009

New car saga

This has been a true test of my "frugal"ness. Testing my limits.

I currently have a 13 year old Toyota Corolla. I have had this car since my son was a year old....this would be my OLDEST son! It is weird to have a car that is older than my youngest child, considering that my youngest is 10. She is very much a part of the family, our primary transportation, we take a 10 hour trip to Montana every summer. She is part of our family history.

However, she is getting older. The A/C stopped working 4 years ago, the condenser needs to be replaced. That means the 10 hour drive during summer is miserable. Plus, things are breaking down, the key switch went out last summer and needed to be replaced (thank the Lord for mechanic hubby), the check engine light came on over Memorial Day and we had to change the spark plugs, cap and rotor because the piston was misfiring (or something like that....I leave it to hubby!). She's leaking oil now, the vessel that holds the windshield wiper fluid is cracked so it leaks out, meaning no who-juice! Bottom line, we need to ask the question of how much these continual fixes are going to cost, versus the cost of a car payment.

I drag myself off to the bank. Get a pre-approval for a loan in our price range. Then, start calling around to dealerships, to private owners, looking on-line at cars. Investigate Kelly Blue Book prices on what we are looking at, checking into Consumer Reports for their evaluation. Basically, doing our homework.

One car seller was so motivated that they drove the car to our HOUSE to show it to us. Oh, my friends, it was nice. I am used to a 13 year old, sub compact. This was much roomier, clean, no soda stains on the ceiling, plenty of room in the trunk (I have a teen boy who plays hockey, and his sticks no longer fit in the trunk, and have to be carried inside the car. Not to mention the size of his gear bag!). More leg room. A/C that works, cruise control (oh, a dream of mine!)....a nice car. But the seller wouldn't budge on price.

We walked away from the deal. Sorry, it's above our limit on price by a 1,000 and we had anticipated that they would come down in price. So, back to the computer. Back to the search.

And, my husband asked if we really wanted to do this. Now, I am the saver in the family, he is the spender. If anyone was going to "go for it!" it would be him. But, he has now had time to think it over, and realize that we are talking about a car payment each month, for the next five years. If his job goes pfft!, we will be in serious trouble in a short amount of time.

So, we chatted about it for a while. Does the mechanic in him think it is fixable? How many more repairs might there be? Can we get it running well enough to do the 10 hour drive in a few months?

We have decided, at this time in our lives, to repair the old girl and live with her for a while longer. Our new plan is to bank the car payments that we would have been making with a new car, and save up for our next car. Or at least have an excellent down payment so our monthly payments are minimal.

It makes me sad on some levels. I really was excited about the idea of a new car. It's been so long since I've had a new car. And the new car would have been MY transportation, not hubby's. So the person truly giving something up is me. BUT, I am respecting my husbands fears about his job, his skill at being able to fix the car that we have, and his concerns about being able to afford a car payment.

Ah well, there is always a few years from now!

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