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Common sense and the economy dictate replacement of old car

Jun. 07, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

I think it is getting toward the time when we need to consider buying a new car: Or at least a newer car than the one I currently drive. My present mode of transportation is a Toyota Corolla. A nice little car, it has a thirst for oil but, as next year will see its 20th birthday, I guess we can allow that. It rattles a little, too, but it starts first time and it runs okay.

The problem with it is I have to commute into Charleston in order to do my full time job. That's more than 50 miles round trip each day, which equates to a thousand plus miles every month. It isn't excessive as far as annual mileage goes -- the last Census figures available say that 12,500 miles a year for a car is about average. The thing is, though, our Corolla is getting to be an elderly lady, she has already traveled 176,000 miles and as I said earlier, she tends to drink oil and is definitely not as economical on gas as she once was.

The job I have in Charleston is the one that provides the bulk of my income, but there is no public transport to get me to it and I cannot do it working from home, so I need to be sure I have a vehicle I can rely on to get me there in all weathers.

Normally when we need to go out and buy something Lori and I just talk it over, we decide what we can afford to spend and then go looking for what we want. It's easy and in normal circumstances when buying a new car, I would expect it to be even easier because I would also hope to get some allowance on the old one as a trade-in at the same time.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of hitches in this scenario. One is that the Corolla was Lori's first car. She bought it herself with her first earnings and it holds a lot of sentimental value for her. She still sees it as the smart, little blue car that took her to college and to her first jobs. Somehow it seems she has not noticed the hot sun and winter rain aging the paint and changing it to a blue-gray, nor has she taken note of the color fading on the upholstery and headrests. She doesn't seem to see the paint on the hood that has chipped from innumerable stones during thousands of miles of highway travel, nor the headlight glass that is becoming opaque from the same source.

I think what it boils down to is she doesn't really want to part with it and who can blame her? It still works and is an old friend; we don't get rid of our friends.

The second problem is I've never bought a car in this country, although I bought and sold several when I was back in England. Over there my brother and I used the same dealer for many years. His cars, new or used, were reasonably priced and reliable and he provided a really good after sales service. I don't know any of the dealers over here and Lori has not bought a new car for several years so she is not familiar with them either. We can ask our friends and co workers but it seems they all recommend going to someone different. Finally, no matter how good a condition it is in we are never going to get very much as a trade in on a 20- year-old car.

The Corolla is not our only means of transport of course. We also have a Nissan van. We use this to take the kids to and from school and when we go out as a family. So, we would not be looking for anything huge, we don't need a big truck with a crew cab or anything we just need a reliable, medium size family car with good gas mileage that I can use for work.

None of these facts is going to change and reading them through again has helped me to come to a decision. The Corolla is still working fine at the moment and we have the van so, much as I'd like to cruise the summer highways in the latest convertible, I think common sense and economy dictate that we at least wait until the State inspection in October before deciding whether to replace the car. If it passes okay then maybe we'll keep it for another year, if not...well, then I guess we'll have to think about it over again.

Derek Coleman is a part-time writer who is a native of England and now lives in Hurricane, W.Va. He can be reached at tallderek@hotmail.com.

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