John Stancavage: After 14 years, in a 'new' set of wheels
BY JOHN STANCAVAGE World Business Editor
Sunday, July 22, 2012
7/22/12 at 3:11 AM
The last few weeks have been a rough road, so to speak, but I have a car again.
In my last column, I detailed the untimely (for me) death of the beloved four-door import sedan I had owned for 14 years.
I had 189,000 miles on the odometer, but it was just getting broken in, or so I believed, as a friend of mine put 275,000 on an identical model before being rear-ended.
The word "pampered" doesn't do justice to how I took care of this car. I kept all my mechanical appointments - at the original dealer - even years after the warranty lapsed. I washed it frequently. I kept fresh tires on it and even changed the wiper blades twice a year.
Then in June I decided to spiff it up a bit for the next 100,000 miles. I fixed a damaged trunk, repainted two doors, replaced a broken fog light, installed a new windshield and got an oil change, mechanical check-up and cosmetic detail.
Naturally, that's when it blew a head gasket and went to the big scrap heap in the sky.
Its passing was more emotional than I was prepared for. After all, this was the vehicle that took me from a time when salespeople still called me "young man" to my current creaky middle age. My vehicular exploits also seemed to strike a nerve with readers, as I received many emails and comments.
One reader offered to sell me her husband's 1973 BMW. She didn't specify whether she'd cleared that offer with him or not, but she did mention he owned seven cars - all older than her.
Another subscriber said he and his wife often debate at what point a vehicle should be considered ready for trade. The writer noted that he put 250,000 miles on a Ford Explorer and now has an F-150 with 175,000 miles. On the other hand, his wife is convinced cars should be sold after just 75,000 miles. "Who is right? We both are - just ask us!" he wrote.
Of course, in my case, I didn't have much choice. A salvage engine would have cost three times what the car was worth, and then you've also got the issue of a motor that's been lying around a junk yard.
I will say this: Right now seems to be a good time to buy a car. Dealer lots have a good selection and I was able to negotiate a fair deal. I chose a model from the same manufacturer as my old car. To get the price range and body style I wanted, I bought a 2007 edition with 65,000 miles on it.
The former owner must have shared a fussy gene with me, because my "new" vehicle looks pristine and drives great.
The only drawback is the car is smaller and sits quite a bit lower than my old sedan. My wife says I don't get in it as much as commit to a "controlled fall."
I've found I get maximum style points when my head just misses the roof.
Original Print Headline: 14 Years Later, In A 'New' Set Of Wheels