13 September 2010


I drive an old car. About 10 years old. Nothing fancy. It’s a transportation tool, not a luxury item or source of entertainment. I might feel differently if my car was, in fact, luxurious. But it isn’t.

On my first real job, I once had an assignment to join my department manager to give a presentation to another business unit located across town. He offered to drive and when we arrived at his car, I was surprised that this mid-level manager was driving such a heap of junk. At the ripe age of 23, I held automobiles in much higher esteem than I do now.

Well, he must have noticed the mildly quizzical look on my face and explained that in this world, you can either have a really nice house or a really nice car, but usually not both. He chose the house. And when I got to the point in life when I was ready to buy a house, I did exactly the same thing.

So, back to my car.

After 161,800 miles, it is one tired machine and needs a few replacement parts so I called the auto mechanic shop last week to give them fair warning I would be in on Saturday morning. They didn’t exactly roll out the red carpet, but I was able to find a spot in the customer waiting room. I fretted while they assessed my car and tallied up the list of parts that needed replacing. I had asked them to break the work into two groupings – one for this month and one for next month.

And the news came in with a four-figure price attached.   > gulp <

Cristy was with me, thankfully. We all went to stand underneath the car and peer into the mysterious places where the wheels attach to the chassis. I asked this auto mechanic if my car was sound; if this money I was about to spend in repairs was indeed a good investment?

The look he gave me in reply did little to bolster my confidence.

I explained my working hypothesis: the cost of repairs to my auto, over the span of the next 12 months, would probably be less than the cost of 12 payments on a car loan. But I wanted a more informed opinion. Thankfully, this made more sense to him and he understood where I was coming from. He pointed out 2 additional things that needed to be addressed over the course of the next couple of months and otherwise pronounced the car healthy.

Next year at this time, I hope to have exceeded the 200,000 mile mark on my odometer with no other unforseen mechanical repairs.


  1. OMG, I thought you were going to say that you had to buy new car!?

    Yaaaaaay! I'm so glad to hear your car still has more life!

    I really enjoyed reading about what your department manager shared...

    "explained that in this world, you can either have a really nice house or a really nice car, but usually not both. He chose the house."

    I agree. In all the years I ever owned a car, it was always very basic. No frills, so extras. I always bought used, never new. Can you believe I never had a car payment over $200.00 a month?


  2. I am impressed.....160,000+ miles. I have never driven a car with that many miles on it. But then again....I rarely drive compared to most.

  3. I feel your pain. We have to put four figures into my son's car, and we did so last year...together the two major repairs actually equal the value of the car...however, if we get him another used car (not affording a new one for him) mwith not fully anticipating what the future with it might bring makes it appear we have not choice but to chuck out the moolah.

  4. I'm with Ron: I was worried the post was going to end with the story of a hunt for a new car.

    Our family is growing this winter and I need to get a bigger car (a minivan, I suspect). I'd love to find one that would give me 161,800 miles of driving life. Not too shabby, my friend.