Saturday, May 26, 2012

Carless (sort of) in California

How will I survive in L.A., the city most synonymous with The Car?

The Green Hornet ... my 'status' symbol, my trophy that spoke of my past successes, the wheels that have carried me from California to Canada to Florida to Mexico to home, the car I breezed off with after impressing the General Sales Manager with cash at one of the local dusty car dealerships ... has been sold.

To the mechanic at the repair shop, who is in the market for a decent used car and who has the means to put the necessary transmission into it for a fraction of what it would cost me, I say you got a good deal.  I always said that if the transmission went, that would be it and it is.  I do not plan to throw another $4000+ into this vehicle to bring it up to roadworthy standard.  That $4000+ includes a new transmission, a new alternator, the replacement of various cracked belts and a new motor mount.

And then what?  A new muffler?  A valve job?  (The valves rattle)  A new engine?  Electronic failure?  A new fuel pump?  This car may have been the swankiest vehicle in the parking lot once upon a time but now it is old - almost 11 years old - and (secretly) I hate to think of what has been the true cost of owning this luxury car. 

It has been fun but, really, it has also been a bit of a waste.

On Tuesday, I'll meet up with the guy who's buying the car and swap the pink slip for $1000 cash.  Actually, $800 cash because I owe the dude $200 for diagnostic labor. 

The end of one of my own personal 'eras'.  I once carried a very wealthy hotel magnate around in the back of this car but that's a whole other story for a whole other time.  Such were the circles in which I moved LOL

The blue book value of this 11 year old car is approximately $5-6000.  I figure I'm even with $800 cash in hand plus the money I would've been out had I agreed to the repairs.

But what a pain.

I had really hoped that this car would last me just another 3-4 years of light, around-town-driving but it is not to be.  Once a car has crapped out on me three times in a row in shortish succession in nightmare traffic, it is off to the scrap yard with it.

So, what is the plan?

Once upon a time, I had 5 new cars in my driveway, all of them costing me in insurance, gasoline, repairs, registration.  I cannot fix a dollar amount on the cost of it all.  Now, I am down to 2 old cars. 

How the 'mighty' fall!  But I am at peace with it because I know what it takes to stay at the top of the heap and it is a rat race that I do not miss in the slightest.  To my mind, there is so much more to life and any number of ways to get what you want.  I digress.

One car has 170,000 miles on the engine, the other about 120,000.  Neither of these vehicles can be trusted outside of the moat.

My plan is to do the following:

1. Take Old Car #1 to the paint and body shop next week for a much needed paint job.  We are down to bare metal all over and I cringe when I look at this vehicle parked out in front of my house LOL  The car would not look out of place in the junk yard.  However, the engine is still going strong and, in exchange for a gallon of gas, the car gives us over 40 miles per.  That is the beauty of a little, no-frills car.  No radio, no A/C, and not much to go wrong engine wise.  I have never driven this car but I plan to drive it a whole lot more when it's home and the spouse hasn't taken it to work.

2. Drive Old Car #2 only as needed because it is a gas guzzlin' SUV that costs a fortune to drive anywhere, such is the gas consumption.  We should really get rid of it but we cannot function right now with only one car.  We live out in the desert with a sporadic public transit system and .... it just would not work.

3.  Stay home more and work on making an income online.

4.  Rent a vehicle whenever I need one to make long distance journeys, as to the kids' colleges.  This is not an ideal situation but, honestly, I think it makes economic sense for now.  I get to drive a new vehicle every so often which will make not having my own car for the first time since I was 17 years old more palatable.

5.  Stick to the plan and buy a brand new small SUV when the spouse retires.  This will be our vehicle for the next decade, dog willing.  Perhaps something hybrid ... electric .... steam propelled ...  We plan to buy a new vehicle in about 3-4 years' time.

I bought my first car at 17 and I have never been without a car since.

It feels weird to be downsizing so much.  I made a commitment to downsize and, by dog, I'm doing it.  It feels good though.  Instead of feeling that I am taking steps backward by losing a car, I feel - as an ex-hoarder - that I am making massive psychological inroads to a more sustainable life.

I will admit to one thing though.  I felt panicked at the thought of losing my last emblem of past financial independence and so took to the roads late yesterday afternoon to one of the dealerships in town.  I know!!  I couldn't help myself!  One quick whirl around the dealer's lot told me one thing: new cars are extremely expensive and, right now, would set us back financially if I were to succumb to desperation and sign on the line that is dotted.  It does not make sense for us to be buying a new car right now.  So, I made my excuses and left.

It's true what 'they' say: give yourself 24 hours to mull over big purchases.

Oh well.

Goodbye, Green Hornet.  You served us all well.  And, yes, it was fun.


Used cars said...

Thanks mate, for providing your short second hand Car use experience. The story included with tutorial what related with Car use task. I appreciate the post for its meaningful issue.

Tanner said...

That is a very interesting way to put it... a 'symbol'. But giving it away is not only saying good bye to an old era, but it is opening the doors and making space for new things to take over.

The Quest said...

@Tanner ~ I agree. I have come to the conclusion that it is NECESSARY for me to get rid of the car in order to move on. I associate it too much with a lifestyle that I neither want to live nor can afford. It represents excess to me.

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