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Archive for August, 2012

What would you do?

August 8th, 2012 at 06:53 pm

In my last blog post, I wrote about the new car that I ordered, which will arrive sometime between the 15th and the 28th. It's a new 2012 Impreza, which have been hard to find to test drive. The last batch of the 2012s are on their way to dealers (mine's one of those), and they're beginning to accept orders for 2013s, which arrive in about 8 weeks.

I had hoped, by virtue of moving my car purchase up from the fall (typically lowest prices) to August, to be able to avoid more car repairs, but this was not to be. On Sunday, the temperature started spiking in my old car. I turned the A/C off and the temp went back down. Then on Monday, the same thing happened, and turning off the A/C didn't help. I popped the hood and found it needed more coolant, which I added. Things were fine Tuesday morning, but Tuesday at lunch, it began to overheat again, and again the coolant reservoir was drained. I got the car home without it overheating by adding more coolant and driving it with the heater turned on high. Then this morning, I drove it to the dealer where I am buying the new car and asked their service department to take a look.

When I described what had happened, the service manager said that it could be the head gasket, which would cost $1700-$1900, so I was antsy until he called with a diagnosis at lunchtime. Then he said it was the thermostat, so I had that replaced for $270.

But on the way home (5 miles), the temperature started spiking again! When the car cooled down, I checked the reservoir, and again it was empty.

The dealer has said they would give me $1200 for the car on trade-in. I feel like I've given them their chance....they could have told me this morning that it was the head gasket and I would have had to decide what to do. For now, I've decided that I'm not driving the car anywhere but back to the dealer when the new car arrives. I've rented a car (another pretty penny) to drive until the new one arrives, hopefully soon. I can't stand the anxiety of driving an overheating car anymore and I don't want to spend $2000 to repair a car that they will give me $1200 for on trade-in (which, by the way, is $200 more than anyone else offered me for it).

What would you do in this situation?

If I could get an Impreza other than the one I ordered immediately, I would, but most of the ones within 50 miles are "on order." There's a manual model, same color, same trim level, as the one I ordered, at the dealer I'm working with, but I had really decided to go with an automatic this time (both because of the better mileage and because I now live on a steep hill and parallel parking with a manual transmission when you have to back up on a hill is a bear....I do it but there are nights where I am too tired and either end up leaving my car parked too far from the curb, or I have to call the neighbor outside to move their car up so I won't hit it, or I have to park far away.

The second biggest purchase of my life

August 3rd, 2012 at 09:32 pm

I ordered a birthday present for myself today--a new car! The only more costly thing I've purchased is my house. (Well, my education cost more, in toto, but I was basically a scholarship student, so most of the money for my education didn't come out of my own pocket.)

I never really expected to buy a brand-new car, and certainly have never done so before. Each car that I've owned I've bought used, and and coincidentally, each has had a 14-year lifespan: the 1978 Volvo, purchased with nearly 100K at age 10 that I got rid of in 1992 due to too much rust; the 1988 Toyota Corolla All-Trac Station Wagon that I bought at about 4 years old with 70K that the insurance company totaled for me in 2002 after I was hit by a soccer mom who was paying more attention to her son in the back seat than the highway she was pulling out onto; and now the 1998 Subaru Forester, also bought at age 4 with 47K, that I am getting rid of because it has already cost me twice its remaining value in repairs this year, and I know of at least $1000 more worth of repairs that need to be done. I love the car, and would keep it, but it also so happens that we are beginning to close out my mom's estate and I have enough of a windfall to pay for it in full.

If all my cars last 14 years, this time I'll take the first four relatively repair-free years for myself, and try to make the car last 14 years--which will bring me about to retirement age by the time this one expires. Of course, I lose more on the depreciation--but that's just accounting lingo for spreading the cost over time to match with use, and if I keep the car, the greater bite on depreciation really doesn't make any difference--it would only matter if I were leasing it or planning to sell in just a couple of years.

I thought about replacing the old Forester with a new used one--I could get a 2010 used Forester for the same price as a new 2012 Impreza--but after thoroughly investing not only the cost of purchase but the cost of ownership, I found that the Impreza is about 20% cheaper all around--fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs as well as initial cost, so that swayed my decision.

My Forester has had so many repairs since the beginning of the year that I've reserved it purely for going to work and doing the weekly grocery shopping. With a new car, I'll look forward to taking a road trip sometime this fall. A friend owns a cabin in the Adirondacks that she is always inviting me to, and this year, after all the stresses of the past few years (the career change with long bouts of unemployment, and losing my mom and two of my three pets), I'd really love to take another weekend away (I went to a family wedding near Boston last September, and that was my first vacation in years...I'd so love another short one this year).

My birthday comes in 3 weeks, and the car should be here between the 15th and the 28th, so hopefully by my birthday, and if not, very shortly thereafter!