Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is It Just a Car?

One day last week the 'Service Engine Soon' light illuminated in my car. I was a bit perplexed since I had been out of town and hadn't driven my car in about 3 weeks. (Funny how those things just pop on, right?)

Being the independent woman that I am, I proceeded to pull out the owner's manual to troubleshoot the problem myself. Since the light wasn't flashing (which meant if it was I should take it to a dealership ASAP and not drive over 45 m.p.h. - whew!) and was a solid light, it appeared the problem could be less severe. The manual suggested to check the gas cap to insure it was on correctly and tightly. Certainly that must be the problem since I had gotten gas the night before. Well...

That didn't appear to be the problem. After 'driving several trips' the light did not go off as the owner's manual suggested it might. So off I was to contact the dealership service department and probably get taken for a real ride.

Now is probably a good time to point out that my car is 10 years old with 140,000 miles. For the past 5 years I have driven it less due to my current job, but let's face it, the first 5 years were probably pretty tough on it. I take good care of my car - I wash it, take it in for scheduled maintenance and when it's sick (like now) take it to the dealership service department.

Since I am celebrating the Big 4-0 this year (that's another story!) purchasing a new car has been on my mind as a presant to myself. BUT, I want to purchase a new car when I am ready to purchase a new car. NOT because I am faced with a high auto repair bill and I will make a rash decision to 'fix' the problem. So I began to do my research...

I found out what the Kelly Blue Book trade in value and private sale value of my car would be. Then I came up with a make it or break figure for the car repair:

1. If the car repair was over X dollars, I wouldn't get it fixed and would negotiate with the dealership for a trade in towards a new vehicle or

2. If the car repair was under X dollars, I would get the car repaired but begin working on selling the car myself.

Fortunately the repair was under my break figure (whew!). I really didn't want to make a rash decision about purchasing a car and I have been without a car payment for soooo long that I am really not that excited about having one again.

The real thing that I realized through all of this is what my car means to me...this car is the first brand new car that I purchased all by myself. I purchased the car while I was married (in my name only) and I was able to afford the payments after the divorce and without anyone's assistance. I have been able to pay for the maintenance and repairs. For me this car represents my independence and what I can do on my own. I'm not so certain that I am ready to trade that in to someone else just yet.

But if someone showed up with this and a red ribbon tied on it, I think my new love affair would begin:


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