There's really only been one time in my life that I bought and drove a "good" car. It was a 1998 Subaru Outback and I loved it. I loved everything about it. I put kayaks on top, filled the back with camping supplies, and I never got stuck anywhere! I drove through two-tracks, feet of snow, mud, and the rest with no problems. I never slipped on ice. I paid cash for it (every dime I had saved), and I was happy to have something good to commute to school in safely.
But there were two problems:
- I didn't know anything about scheduled maintenance, and I let problems go too long (causing more damage)
- Repairs were ridiculously expensive
In the two years that I drove my Subaru, I had the following things go:
- Head gaskets ($1900)
- Clutch ($700)
- Wheel bearings ($1100)
- Timing belt (which bent the valves: too expensive for me to fix :( had to sell it broken)
And many more "smaller" repairs that were a few hundred dollars. It was out of control. I didn't have the money to buy something else, so I would scrape together a little cash, some credit card, and borrow some from my school money to get by. It sucked. I once went a month without it because it was in the shop. This was when I had class and had to work out dropping off my husband, or having him find another way to work so I could use his car. This car spoiled me on all foreign cars because I will now assume that they are just crazy-expensive to fix.
After the timing belt on the Subaru snapped (causing the valves to bend, which totaled the car for me because I could not afford an entirely new engine), I got my tax return and had to find a car quickly. I had a long drive to work and couldn't manage carpooling or biking, plus I didn't live somewhere with a bus system. I had about $2500 from taxes to spend on a car. The best I could do was this gem:
That's right, a 1996 Ford Escort. I bought it in 2011. It had about 80,000 miles, and although it was certainly a turdy little Ford, it was very well taken care of. It had been a company car, so it came with a folder of maintenance records. The guy who owned it had bought it from the company that originally owned it, and he had it for his daughter who decided it was too icky to drive anymore. Your loss, girlfriend! WOO.
I was not excited to buy it, but it was the best decision at the time. I have to say, unlike the Subaru, I have not regretted this decision.
Why, might you ask? Well, let me tell you:
- It was $2,000. I had that in the bank and didn't have a problem buying it (no payments).
- It didn't need immediate repair.
- It gets okay gas mileage as a tiny car.
- Repairs are cheap and any mechanic can do them (including sometimes my brother).
- Insurance is cheap.
So even if you tally one brake line, brake pads, fuel filter, radiator, timing belt, battery, exhaust segments, tires, oil changes, and alternator, that's not a lot. That's not even close to what I spent on the Subaru. I drove this little car all around Michigan, to Buffalo, New York and back several times, it has hauled a small love seat (if you can imagine), bikes, cats, wood, people, and more. Even though it has broken down a couple times, it was easy to get it going again. And even though it currently is having a fuel issue now that causes it to sometimes stall when you're stopped, I'm not giving up yet.
I'll never let go, Escort! Well, I probably will this spring when I get finished paying some stuff off and finally buy something new(er).