Friday, August 23, 2013

A Girl's Guide to Buying a Car

“Sneaky would be a lime-green Volkswagen. Nobody would suspect the assassins in the lime-green Volkswagen.”
                                                                                                ― Adam Rex

It's time for me to get kinda serious about buying a car.  Well, I need to at least start thinking about getting kinda serious about buying a car.  Don't get me wrong.  I L-U-V my current vehicle.  You wouldn't necessarily be able to tell how much I love it by its condition.  It's pretty filthy. But I do love it.  It's zippy.  And I get this really STEADY feeling steering it.  And I pretty much beat most cars off the line.  Well, in my mind I'm beating them.  I don't think they actually know we're racing.

But, here's the thing:  the maintenance costs on a BMW are RIDICULOUS.  And, at this point, I'm going to need to invest some serious jack to keep it going smoothly at 287,000 miles.  I'm looking at replacing the fuel pump, the clutch, and, heck, probably the ENGINE fairly soon. And the cigarette lighter (which I need for charging the plethora of electronic devices we own) keeps shorting out so it's virtually unusable. All I see are dollar signs.  On the FLIP side, it was paid off long ago.  I don't have a monthly car payment.  And THAT is a beautiful thing.

But, I've got to start thinking about it.  I now have new car fever.  I've never, EVER owned a new car but I'm starting to think it might make sense to buy one.  Not a new BMW...I'm a freakin' single mom now, I can't afford THAT.  I also need a car that's big enough to fit two growing boys, one really big dog and a little dog and ALL our camping equipment for a weekend.  I'd like something rugged enough to strap a canoe to the top but classy enough that I don't feel like a big ol' redneck behind the wheel.  So many criteria, so little time.

What I really need is to focus on the top ten things a woman like me needs in a car:

  1. Chick-cute.  I like FUN things in a car.  I love the VW Beetle touch with the little flower vase.  I like neat accessories like a USB port to plug in my phone while I drive.  Fashion colors are a must...a RED car would be perfect (bright red, not burgundy).  I want a CUTE car.  Preferably one that cleans itself.
  2. Man-tough.  I also want a rugged car that fits my adventurous personality.  I like to do guy things.  I like camping and backpacking and canoeing and whitewater rafting. It needs to be able to hold ALL my gear AND the fun people/animals I drag along.
  3. Gas to spare.  I put a LOT of miles on cars.  I am always on the go hither and yon.  I need something that's fuel efficient.  And, if Thing 1 has his way, I would prefer something environmentally friendly.
  4. Low maintenance costs.  WHO KNEW this should be a factor in car buying?  I need a car that doesn't require the selling of a kidney to fix.  Actually, I would like a car that never needs to be fixed.  Which brings me to...
  5. Dependable.  I'd like something that gets me from Point A to Point B.  I drive at all hours in all conditions.  Thumbing my way home beside a steaming, sputtering heap of junk is not my idea of a fun Saturday night.
  6. Intuitive.  Lights that tell me my tire pressure is low or that my brakes are getting worn or that my door is ajar are almost a requirement.  I am not an exceptionally observant person (usually my head is firmly planted in the clouds) so it would be nice if my car does a little "thinking" for me.
  7. Inexpensive.  OK, that's relative, I realize.  I don't want to forego travel the next five years while I pay off some extravagant hunk of metal and plastic.  I want my next car to be affordable...on all levels.
  8. Fun to drive. I don't mind a stick shift.  I like something with firm steering and a little get-up-and-go.  
  9. Personality.  I don't want boring.  I don't want "I'm a sedan" and I REALLY don't want something that screams "I'm a mom" (no offense intended, minivan drivers).  I just want something with a little panache. I want something I can give a name to.
  10. Staying power.  I'd like something I can drive for more than five years without wanting to shoot myself every time I get in the car.  I've had my current car for years and I still love getting behind the wheel.  
 I know what you're probably thinking: Is that ALL you want, you little diva?  Oh, satisfying THAT list won't be tough...

I know it's a lot to ask. And I realize that I'm going to have to sacrifice one or two or five things. And I also know that it probably WON'T be a new car (because I just can't get past the fact that new cars are STUPID EXPENSIVE).  But I'm excited about the process.  This will be the very first time I've ever bought a car without a man's help.  It's all me.  I know it means there will be no one to BLAME if something goes wrong...but it's also kinda cool to think that I can do this research, come up with a plan and buy this car on my own.  I'm feelin' all like an independent woman with REAL grown-up lady panties.

Drive on.

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  1. I have the perfect car for you. Runs forever. Utterly utilitarian for your family, dogs and camping and exploring. So comfortable to drive. I never get fatigued. Easy in and out. No minivan stigma. The service manager at the Honda dealership said it was the most maintenance free car Honda ever sold. I love mine.

  2. Check out the Honda/Acura crossovers, very spacious and fun to drive! Or a subaru wagon? I don't think they are as pretty, but they ARE tough