The New Car

I wrote about the Grannymobile. That’s done.

I spent the summer, fall, and winter borrowing my bestie’s roommate’s car, which is a 95 Toyota Tercel – nothing fancy, but it got me to my float lessons through the summer. I got my rating, that’s what matters. It worked decently well, since my bestie and I (she gets mad when I call her that, hee!) because the two of us communicate pretty well and we were able to organize sharing a vehicle better than I think most people could, but it’s not a substitute for having my own car.

My dad is a beekeeper, so his busy season is in the summer. He’s the one I go to when it comes to big purchases like this. I was setting a budget for $3000 to $5000, planning to bite a bit more than I might be able to afford to maybe, hopefully get something that I wasn’t going to constantly need to pay for repairs.

My Dad was finally free, or at least less busy, after the fuss of Grandma going into the hospital died down. He was able to help me look for a car. Part of it is I know ten times as much about aeroplanes as I do about cars, and part of it is my Dad is in some ways a walking stereotype and shopping for cars is practically his hobby. And part of it is the fact that I know car salesmen will try to get away with things with a woman that they won’t try with a man. I hate it, but it’s true.

I was at a dealership at one point looking at new cars. I could get financing and pay around $300 a month for the rest of my adult life for it. The bank totally would approve it. I did not get a new car.

My Dad said, get a Toyota Corolla. Apparently they’re the best – after the old blue car died, my aunt got a Toyota Corolla, and when her new hubby hit a caribou, they liked it so much they got another one.

I was like – dude, this is my first car that I’m actually going to be able to pick what kind of car I *want*, and pick something that’s, you know, “me”. Something that suits my personality and is exactly what I need in a car. I don’t need to let my Dad tell me what kind of car I should buy.

So I start shopping on Kijiji for a Toyota Corolla.* I was looking at 1999s and 2000s. There’s lots on there, and they were way newer than my old car. Like – they had cd players instead of tape decks. Fancy shit like that. And air conditioning. JFC, how is air conditioning and cruise control not standard in a vehicle these days? Whisky tango foxtrot.

But then I got news from Dad. Grandma had given me basically everything she’d planned to give me for my inheritance already for flying, and I was grateful and didn’t expect anything more. It was more than most people I know have got from relatives. But for whatever reason, whether it was because she knew I was in need, or because she was proud of me getting my commercial license, she and Dad decided to chip in some money so that I could get something newer that will hopefully last me a fair bit longer.

Suddenly I was able to look at 2008s and 2010s. I was a bit overwhelmed – these cars were way nicer than anything I had imagined could be a real part of my life right now.

My Dad and I got going on car shopping for real. There was a Toyota Camry Hybrid for a good price that we went to see. A lot of people said “What if the battery fails!” because battery replacement is killer expensive on those, but my Dad said he knew I guy who worked in a repair shop and and for all the worry about how expensive it is when a battery fails, in all the years hybrids and electric cars have existed now, the shop had yet to ever replace one. So with the reassurance that my Dad didn’t think buying a hybrid was a bad idea, we went to see it, and took it for a test drive.

I wouldn’t have picked up on it, buy my Dad could tell it had been in an accident. Hard to tell how bad, but when he pointed out the parts that had been repaired, and how they’d done kind of a half-assed paint job on them, suddenly it was obvious. The way the hood fit against the side panel – it didn’t line up as smoothly as a new car – the gap between panels wasn’t even. The seller owned up to it. He was one of those guys who buys a car to repair and then sells it. We didn’t buy it.

The other one we looked at was really nice. Toyota Corolla, it was slate grey, and had an aux input so I could plug in my phone and play my mp3s. 2010, for $9750. Previous owner had passed away, but they’d only had it for two years, so it wasn’t a single owner vehicle.

And it was a smoker’s car. I don’t know what would have been involved to get the cigarette smell out of the car. We offered $9350, to keep the taxes from putting the cost over 10k, and the guy storing the vehicle said he’d get back to us if the owner agreed.

But we kept shopping. My dad spotted one that was an estate sale. Old person car. One box checked.

LE. LE means “luxury edition”. This was a car purchased by someone who had money to spend on a nice vehicle. Fancy things like tire pressure monitoring, and fog lights, and snazzy dash guages that light up with a sharper contrast than the standard model. Power remote door locks and power mirrors. Traction control. Another box checked.

It came with snow tires. Another check.

It had, when purchased, had a rust protecting coating applied to the underside. This car was a car the owner had spent extra to make sure it lasted. Check.

They had all the maintenance records. That was a huge check for my Dad, showing the car had been looked after properly.

It didn’t have an aux port for my tunes.

You know what – the most important thing is I get a car that’s going to be reliable and last, and I would be stupid to make an aux port a dealbreaker. It was a 2008, and we got it for $9000. I gave my Dad the okay and we bought it.

The weird thing is I’m so primed to be stressed right now. It’s like I don’t know how to not be stressed. I’ve been without my own car for so long, I’m used to that stress, plus I was ready for the stress of worrying about whether or not I should have spent so much, or if I should have spent more and got something more reliable. And worrying about whether or not I got a good deal, or if I’d gotten taken advantage of. It’s now my most valuable possession, money wise. But the money from Grandma meant I’m not in much worse shape than I was already, and my Dad’s help shopping for a vehicle reassured me that I was making a good purchase.

So for the lack of anything else new to stress about, I’m stressing about feeling guilty for being so lucky to have family looking out for me. Stupid, huh? Literally feeling guilty for having opportunities and such that I know so many people will never have.

So I have a car now. It’s slate grey, and very nice and I like it a lot.The trunk is way bigger than it looks – I could get like, five bodies in there. I have named the car. The car’s name is Diane. I have named the car after my Grandma.

Here is my car:


I brought it in to Portage to show Grandma. It was still cold, and Grandma’s in rough shape, so we didn’t want to drag her outside, so we did something I’m sure we would never get away with in Winnipeg. My dad didn’t tell her I was there when he wheeled her upstairs and through the emergency room and into the ambulance bay. He says she was starting to get after him, “Now, Don, we shouldn’t be in here – Don, they’re going to get mad at us, you can’t go in there!” He’d asked permission to pull the car into the ambulance bay for a few minutes so she could see it, so that’s where I was waiting for her.

She told me he’s talked of nothing else since we got it, so it was nice to be able to show her what her money had bought. And she quoted me a bible passage about how a wise man listens to advise, and a foolish man thinks he knows everything, when we talked about me taking my Dad’s advice on buying the right car. I’m really lucky to have had someone who could help me make that kind of decision.

I just wish my Grandma wasn’t so old and so weak.


*I mean, if money were no object, and I could afford any car I wanted, I would totally buy a Jeep Wrangler, but that’s not really financially feasible right now. Someday though, I will get myself a classic Jeep and when I pick up my bestie to go somewhere, I will hop the curb, drive it up onto her lawn and honk the horn like a high school boyfriend your parents disapprove of. Someday.

**It kind of looks ghetto because the winter tires don’t have wheel covers, but I’ll pick up some of those next winter. It’ll look way nicer with wheel covers.


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