Saturday, July 11, 2009

Auto focus

To me the car is mostly what gets me where I'm going and not much more. I've liked some cars more than others, but ultimately the main thing I have invested in the vehicle is its reliability. Maybe that's what made my parting with each of my previous cars relatively easy.

There was the 1982 Datsun 200SX (owned August 1992-August 1996). It was my first and, let's face it, my favorite. The $600 purchase price didn't hurt, but that car had horsepower AND a woman's voice that delivered information ("the door is ajar). It was kind of like owning KITT. I hated to get rid of it, but it broke down on the side of the interstate one night and then had the hatchback window shattered when someone threw a beer bottle at it. (Luckily I wasn't in the car at the time.) With glass all over the interior and who knows what to repair under the hood, it had to go.

Next was the 1987 Toyota Corolla (August 1996-March 1998). Call it a rebound car, again purchased for $600. The first major problem I encountered with it was antifreeze leaking into the oil. Not good. That eventually seemed to be patched, but then the clutch went. It wasn't worth putting additional money into it, and I wasn't sad to see it go.

My third car, a 1990 Ford Taurus (March 1998-April 2004), had been totalled and rebuilt by someone my dad knew. Considering how long I did have it, perhaps it was worth the chance taken on it, although I remember it having its share of issues. Again, when the time came, there was no question I needed to move on. A dead cylinder will do that.

My current car, a 1997 Saturn (April 2004-???) has treated me well despite having more miles on it than I preferred when I bought it. I've only ever had to have regular and routine maintenance done on it. In that way it's probably been the best car I've owned. I'd been hoping to maybe get another year or so out of it, but today I think I've decided that the time to call it quits may be soon.

You see, the car is bucking, a problem that seems unrelated to the transmission. It started a little more than a week ago and has been stressing me out since. While it accelerates fine, I'm worried that whatever is underneath the hood that wants to leap forward--I can feel it--is going to cause me to get stranded or worse.

If this unidentified problem were the only thing in need of repair, perhaps I wouldn't be so hasty to break it off, but there are plenty of other issues that could use addressing but would be prohibitively expensive for a car with 192,000+ miles on it. So I've decided, more or less, that we've had a good run, but I'll be better off moving on.

The car buying process isn't something I enjoy. Ideally I would get another year or year and a half out of my current car. Fingers crossed, at least this time I might be able to end things on my terms rather than being in a situation in which I have a vehicle that won't operate and must find a replacement.

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At 2:15 PM, Anonymous LittleWit said...

My friend has rebuilt his Saturn a few times and it now has over 200k miles on it. :) I like car shopping for other people but can't imagine having to do it for myself. I got such a steal on my first car that I feel like any subsequent purchases will just let me down.


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