Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year, New Car

Last Saturday morning, I drove my beloved yellow car for the last time. In the begining I loved that car. She was everything I wanted sporty, fun, and most importantly yellow. Thats the exact reason I bought the car. This is how it happened--I only learned after the fact, that it wasnt how you were supposed to buy a car. I was randomly glancing through the paper one evening while waiting to go pick up pizza. There through the black and white newsprint, I spoted her -- my yellow Dodge Neon. She was at a local car dealership who just happened to be open late that night. I quickly convinced my mom to go with me. Big T and I went to the dealership and it really was love at first sight. The car was waiting for me in all her glory in the showroom window -- all shiny bright yellow, rear spoiler, sunroof, 4 disc cd changer, yellow trim in the interior around the cd player and center consol, black interior. It was everything I wanted. I immediately decided she was the car for me and I gave the salesman the information he needed for financing information, then out the door we went to pick up our dinner. I dont know why people made car shopping so hard -- there was no test driving, no haggling for a better price, no visiting multiple dealerships, no mechanics inspections (I didnt know at the time thats how you are SUPPOSED to buy a car.)

Two days later, after essentially signing my life away, I drove her off the lot. Even though it was February, it was a warm day and I put the sunroof back and cranked up the cd player (chances are pretty good I was listening to Barry Manilow, but hey, I think I'm cool so thats all that matters.) Thus began our four years together. We had many great times together--trips to QVC, Philly, Columbus and just crusing around. Muffin loved to go for car rides and we spent many evenings and weekends just driving around. Even the local nuns loved my car. Sister Mary Byron, a former college professor, lived at the convent and when I would go to pick her up for dinner or stop by for a visit, she and the sisters milling around always admired my car. At Sister Mary's funeral several of them knew me as the "girl with the yellow car."

Alas, our good times started coming to an end this past August.It was an incredibly rainy day. I dont mean just rain, I mean torrential downpours, the blinding kind that make it impossibly hard to see when the car wipers can't go fast enough. The on ramp to the state road was flooded as I drove up it and the road I needed to drive on to get home was also had a lot of water on it, I have always been a bad judge of height and depth and this time was no different. I assumed that because other cars could drive thru the water, my little yellow Neon could drive through it too. Well, she made it about half way thru the water before stalling out. Even after a day of drying out she still wouldnt start. The diagnosis -- I needed a new engine. My 2002 Neon with 62,000 had to be gutted. This was the begining of the end. Three months, a new engine, battery, starter, alternator, and $3,000 later I thought she was as good as new. Then the drive belt went and cost me another $300 some odd dollars. All was well for a few weeks and then she began to jerk and shudder. The only thing I hadnt replaced on the car was a transmission and that would cost another $2,000. My mom drove it done day and it scared her to death and she decided my beloved yellow car was not safe to drive. The truth is, I didnt drive it anymore than I had to and all roadtrips had ceased because I didnt know if she could get there and back.

Last week I spent two days at another local car dealership (highly recommended by a trusted family mechanic) car shopping. This time I was prepared to test drive, haggle, ask the appropirate questions. I even had certain things I was supposed to look for like it needed to be a GMC model with a 3.8, V6 enginge (again, from the same trusted mechanic). I knew which cars to look at and which ones to stay away from. I test drove 5 vehicles the first day, found one I liked and took it to the mechanic. He didnt like the looks of it underneath so back to the dealership I went. The second day, I went back to the dealership and test drove some more. Settled on a car, got the mechanics approval, and last Saturday went to sign papers and came home with a new (not brand new but new to me, one of my grandfathers lessons ingrained in my head "Never buy a brand new car, the price drops $7-10 thousand dollars the minute you drive it off the lot") car.

I was sad to turn over the keys to the yellow car. True she had her blind spots, a cracked side mirror and drove like $hit at the end, but she was my first new car that I paid for myself. Its true that the 2006 Lacrosse is easier to get in and out of, rides a lot smoother and is in every way shape and form an "adult" car, complete with wood trim inside. LOL. Shes going to take some getting used to. Shes a sharp looking car, almost brand new with only 22,000 miles on the tires, and of course came with new car smell. The only thing I'm not that crazy about is the ever popular sand color which is going to make locating her in a crowded parking lot a tad bit more difficult than it was with the yellow car. Roadtrips can now be reinstated though and I'll be riding in classy style! LOL.