When you own a 21 year old car that is your daily driver, you rely a lot on faith. A belief that the car is going to start every morning (it has) that it will get you from point A to point B without breaking down (it has) and not being in the shop with any great frequency.
For the most part, that has been in the case. My Subaru has been a very good car during the three years I have owned it. The repairs, while on the pricey side, have been necessary and not the result of a bad purchasing decision.
But how much more cash and time in the shop do you want to put into a 21 year old car? Recently, the steering has been getting more and more unstable. This was not an unknown situation. My mechanic have mentioned that there was a lot of play in the steering wheel, and these parts do not get better. Do I really want to sink another couple of thousand into this car for a steering column, shocks and struts.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been doing research. Looking into local car dealerships, what they had used in stock for what I was willing to pay, and their reputation for being decent business people.
I made an appointment earlier this week for this morning. There were a couple of cars they had that I was interested in.
Yesterday we got about four inches of snow, and the roads were crap. Was wondering what I'd wake up to this morning and whether or not I'd be able to test drive any cars. The roads were not too bad, so I gathered up my title, brought the checkbook and headed to Hugh White Honda.
The salesman was not pushy, apologized for the weather, like it was his fault, and we walked down a row of cars on a chilly morning. He mentioned a couple of five speeds, but I have not driven a stick in over twenty years, and was not about to relearn on slushy roads. There was one car in particular I wanted to test drive, he got it scraped off while I took a look in the interior and trunk.
Sent this picture of to my wife and gave the description. She did not disapprove.
Took it on the road and it felt good. Needed to adjust the seat better, but it rides well. Since the dealership is right by 270 I gave it a good spin on the highway and it continued to drive well. Everything seems to function as it should, not sure about the air conditioning though. You worry about different noises when you have an unfamiliar engine in front of you, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
When I got back we discussed terms. My wife and I previously talked what we were willing to pay and how to finance the purchase, but I called her after the dealership's offer, which we felt was reasonable so I made the purchase.
A 2005 Hyundai Elantra that went to 118,000 miles as I was on the highway. My parents own a Sonata that I have driven and really liked. I've also rented a couple of Hyundais and felt comfortable with them. This morning, no cash was spent in exchange for three years of payments plus the Subaru as trade. There's a minor oversight that I and the salesman made that he is going to make good on next week. So I'm happy with this car and hope I made a purchase of a car that's going to be low cost to maintain for the next three years, at least. It's going to be weird not having a station wagon for the first time in five years, but I'm sure I can make the adjustment.