Estimated total spent in last 16 years on my car: $3,000 for repairs and new tires
What I could have spent:
- Age 16 - an old beater (used, $6,000)
- Age 22 - a car to celebrate college graduation (new, $20,000)
- Age 27 - a car because other one is too old and I'm a pretentious yuppie (new, $25,000)
- Age 32 - a car for the expanding family (used, $18,000)
Hey - I saved $56,000? That was a great present! Thanks, Mom & Dad! However, now my steady companion has fallen low. I took her in for some "preventative maintenance" a few months ago, and she hasn't been the same ever since. I recently calculated her mileage at 24 mpg - a 20% decrease from usual. She has started having trouble getting up to 60 miles per hour. I have to stare in the rear-view mirror as the cars on the highway bear down on my little car - malevolently, it seems.
To be honest, my Prizm also has a few, ahem, aesthetic issues. I had a fender bender about 5 years ago, and the damage repair would have cost more than the car was worth. Of course I had dropped comp & collision since my car was already 12 years old. So I asked the mechanic just to pry the body away from the tire with a crowbar. Voila! Working (if cosmetically challenged) car! So I've been driving my little car ever since, enduring the occasional ribbing from family, friends, or co-workers with a combination of pride and sheepishness.
Now, my car has developed some REAL, not just aesthetic problems. She's approaching 145,000 miles, not looking so hot, and so I am contemplating getting a new used car. A 2007 Prius, to be exact. Because OKC has no other real options for getting around. It is one of the largest cities in the country, by area. I think of it as a city of suburbs. It was built mostly after WWII and so there's no real urban core (although city planners are developing one now that the urban core is back in style). With all of that huge area and low density, the public transportation system is sorely lacking.
We have located ourselves in a good spot in OKC, near many amenities and necessities - with two exceptions. My husbands' work, and family. His family all live on the South side of town - the part of town that is slowly filling in the wide open spaces between Oklahoma City and Norman. We witnessed the same thing happen when we lived in Denver and the highway corridor between Denver and Boulder slowly clogged. My family live in Tulsa, about 100 miles away.
My dilemma is this: how long will we, as a society, be relying on driving a car as our primary mode of transport? If it's 5 or 6 years, getting another car should be worth it. Even if gas gets very expensive, we could carpool with 2 or 3 other people and REALLY get our money's worth. I even have fantasies about running a Prius cab service.
Secondly, the issue on everyone's mind these days: job loss. While my husband's job seems secure, you never know when a company is going to file bankruptcy or start a round of layoffs. Then we would be stuck with a car when we might rather have the cash. Bummer.
With all this in mind, how can anyone be sure about buying a car? I suppose this is why auto sales have taken a nosedive. I am tempted to hold out until prices drop lower. On the other hand, I think we may see higher gas prices later this year, which would make the Prius a lot more in demand. I guess we just have to take our best guess.