A few years ago, my wife and I sold one of our two vehicles (the newer one, with payments) and decided to share our other vehicle as I decided to start bus commuting and riding my bike to work. The remaining vehicle, a 2000 Pontiac Grand Am, or “Grandy” (whom I have never, until this moment, affectionately called her), had racked up 182,000 miles and started showing signs of fatigue lately.
1. She was burning a quart of oil every other week.
2. She occasionally would vibrate heavily at stops.
3. On a very cold day, her innards would occasionally smell like gas.
All of the signs were there. Grandy was tired. We didn’t know how much longer she had.
As Grandy was a shared car (no second car to back us up) and my wife has been driving a few hundred miles back and forth to nursing school every week, we started getting concerned.
The following thoughts began entering our minds:
“What if the car dies on the middle of the highway in the dead of winter?”
“If the car dies, how much would we have to pay for a rental until we find a new one?” (insurance doesn’t cover)
“There are no good incentives on new cars this time of year, do we roll the dice on the car not dying until there is?”
“If we can trade the vehicle in now, at least we could get something for it. If it dies, we probably will get nothing.”
Then, this past week, Grandy stalled on my wife while she was in stop-and-go traffic on the highway. She had never stalled before.
The shared long summer road trips up north, the time she hydroplaned and spun out in the highway median, the time I fell asleep at the wheel on the highway and Grandy nailed a reflector pole, the squirrel that darted in front of us one summer’s day… wait, most of these memories suck… oh well, Grandy and I had been through a lot together.
She was still serviceable and there could still be good days ahead, but it was time for us to move on. My wife and I jointly decided to take Grandy behind the woodshed (trade her in).
What happens next is another tale for another day… (stay tuned)
Dying Car Chat:
Have you suffered feelings of confusion and sadness over a dying car? Share your old car’s memorial in the comments. You have our support.