My 2002 Hyundai Elantra is dying. Sigh.
She’s the first new car I ever purchased and she has faithfully supported all of my ground transportation needs for over 187,000 miles with very little maintenance and absolutely no breakdown drama.
That said, Hyundai been showing her age for a while now. Her headlights burn out about every 60-90 days. She squeals miserably when I start her on chilly mornings, hesitates when I start her on hot days and clicks noisily when we take sharp turns. Her body is dinged, dented and generally lackluster. Her interior is spotty, worn and downright ragged in places. Her visor mirrors fall out occasionally and have to be Super Glued back in place. When we go over small bumps in the road, the radio switches to CD causing a miserable and frustrating listening experience. On occasion, her driver’s side window gets stuck partially open.
Back in 2009, her alarm system was permanently disabled when it malfunctioned and the cost of repair was almost as much as her Blue Book value.
Certified Hyundai Repair Guy: Ma’am, we really do not recommend disabling a car’s alarm system.
Me: Seriously? Who is going to steal this car?
Certified Hyundai Repair Guy: You’d be surprised.
Me: I’m going to invent my own alarm system for old Hyundais. My alarm system will laugh at anyone who breaks in. It will say things like, “Dude, are you stealing a 2002 Hyundai? Seriously? How pathetic are you?”
Certified Hyundai Repair Guy: (Turns away and tries to hide the fact that he’s laughing.)
In weird and not-so-complimentary ways, this raggedy old Hyundai has started to reflect my crappy self-image. For months now, I’ve been telling myself that I really should invest in a new car. Better Feng Shui and I’m worth it and all that crap. But then I would remember how much I hate, loathe and despise car shopping…and how much I LOVE budgeting $0 for car payments each month. So I’d crank up my ABBA Greatest Hits CD to bypass the radio issue and drown out all of her aging car noises and keep on driving.
A few weeks ago, after taking us for a lovely drive up to the Appalachian Trail, Hyundai pulled into the garage and just gave up. Fluids suddenly gushed out of her. She reeked of burned chemicals. I half expected to see all four tires deflate. The message was clear. She was DONE.
We’ve been together 11 years and I love her. I really do. But it’s time to let her go.
Yes, I could invest in costly repairs and force her to continue to limp along. Yes, the costly repairs would still be cheaper than getting a new car. Yes, there are plenty of cars on the road over 200,000 miles and still going strong. Yes, I still hate, loathe and despise car shopping. But I have made up my mind to do this thing.
And now that I find myself deep in the trenches of car shopping, I realize that a person’s relationship with their vehicle – what we drive now, what we’ve driven in the past, our first car, our first new car, how we go about choosing a vehicle, and how we deal with this whole modern necessity of vehicle ownership – it really does say quite a bit about a person’s character. We all know this even if we pretend it isn’t true. And we judge. We do!
Think about it.
Scene 1: A slim brunette in old Levis steps out of a green convertible Beatle, slings a backpack over one shoulder and checks her iPhone as she bumps the car door shut with one hip. Nose still glued to her phone, she hurries away.
Scene 2: A slim brunette in old Levis steps out of a 1958 Chevy pickup, slings a backpack over her shoulder and turns to kick the driver’s side door closed, giving it a second kick to make sure it’s really shut. Then she turns and hurries away.
Scene 3: A slim brunette in old Levis steps out of a white Lexis SUV, slings a backpack over one shoulder and looks around as she eases the car door shut. She spots someone, waves and hurries away to meet the other person.
What assumptions have you just made about these three women?
Coming Soon: On Car Shopping & Character Building