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We finally broke down and bought a new car over the Labor Day weekend. I say finally because we traded in my wife’s car, which she bought new 13 years ago.
My car, the one we kept, is 14 years old, though I’ve owned it for only 11. Sadly, however, my 14-year-old car had become the better of our two vehicles.
We had reached the point where we were reluctant to drive out of town for fear of getting stranded somewhere. So we were definitely due for an upgrade.
But we now have a car payment for the first time in more than a decade. That will take some getting used to, especially since the price was about twice what I paid for my car in 2002.
However I think we’ll adapt to the payment more quickly and easily than we’ll adapt to the car. Brenda’s old car was a 2000. My how cars have changed over the past 13 years.
The old car was so antiquated, it was equipped with a cassette player. Her new car has a CD player plus a USB jack for hooking up an iPod. It also has Bluetooth capability, whatever that means.
I knew I was in trouble when I pulled four different owner’s manuals out of the glove box, and the thickest of the four was the one for the sound system.
There’s a visual display touch screen, and it even has audio controls mounted on the steering wheel. So far Brenda has figured out how to turn on the radio and maybe how to change stations.
One of the screens shows you your current rate of fuel consumption, and another tells you the air pressure in your tires. I like that one.
While I appreciate the technological advances made to vehicles over the past 13 years, I can’t help but think that each and every one of those advances is but one more thing that can fail, resulting in expensive repairs.
Gone are the days when even a novice mechanic like me could change a starter, water pump or spark plugs. Today even the brakes are controlled by computers.
But perhaps our biggest adjustment has been learning to keep the new car at or under the speed limit.
My car and Brenda’s former car are both compact models. It takes some effort to go 70 mph, and when you do, you can hear the engine whine and feel the wind buffeting the car.
In fact, Brenda’s old car was so bad in windy conditions, I was once pulled over on the interstate on a blustery day because another motorist had reported me as a drunken driver.
Our new car (I say “our” because I hope to drive it occasionally) is a full-size sedan. It is so quiet and so smooth that 40 mph feels like 20 felt in the old car. If we’re not careful, we’re doing 60 before we know it.
I actually had very little say in choosing this car. Brenda went out by herself “just to look” and came home with the car, which the dealer let her keep over the weekend. It was clear to me this was the car she wanted, and I saw no reason to argue.
After all, 13 years ago she saw her old car on a lot, said, “That’s the one I want,” and bought it. That car gave her 13 years of reliable, virtually trouble-free performance.
Plus, she married me.
The way I figure, she knows how to pick ’em.
Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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