Archive | February, 2011

My car… My brand… My budget…

23 Feb

I bought my first car in 2002 when I graduated college and moved to Springfield, MA from Boston, MA. Gone were the days of walking around a city or taking the T… now I had to drive everywhere and I wasn’t about to take public transportation.

Fast forward 9 years later and I have the same car. A VW Jetta. It is a 2000, I bought it used. It had exactly 30,000 miles on it when I got it and currently has 159,857 miles on it now. Nine years and over 120,000 miles later it started acting funny. I am pretty good with knowing cars thanks to my dad and brother but I never really paid attention to my dashboard where the RPM circle was.

I always thought this somehow reflected low oil… but when I finally asked my brother why my RPMs were acting funny and my oil level was fine, he said… “duh, your RPMs mean your transmission!” Well, ok then… this makes a little sense. In my haste to find an immediate fix, I Google. I found many forums and people posting about similar cars and similar issues… all pointing to transmissions needing to be rebuilt. This was last Wednesday, so Thursday I call the transmission guy down the street from my office and get my car in. He said it was driveable but needed a new transmission and was looking at $2,000. And then he said – “you should consider looking at buying a new car too and see what makes sense for you.”

With the thoughts of new cars dancing in my head I went back to work only to car shop online. I even went to the bank to see about a loan after work. Loan was approved provided I had a co-signer as I had been out of work for two plus years. I spent the majority of last year doing consulting work but it wasn’t enough even with my full-time, permanent job now. A co-signer meant at 30 years old I had to look to my parents for help as I am still single. I contemplated the loan and a new car but then realized my gym peeps, I teach at a local gym, would be distraught too. They know my car – they look for it every day in the parking lot to see if I am there. And if I am driving through town and they see me, they call me. After nine years this car is an extension of me. After a lot of back and forth I finally decided to be a big girl get the transmission fixed because I could afford the $2,000 instead of asking my parents for help; so I made the appointment.

I dropped my car off yesterday to Shawn, my new car guy. My baby girl (that’s my car) was now in his hands… I am trusting him to fix her and every day I drive by the shop on my way to work so I can actually keep tabs on my car. From my drive in to my drive home the car was in the same spot… I figured he didn’t look at it yet. But… I was wrong. Shawn called me this evening and said he took the transmission out and it was worse than he thought – he needed more pieces and it was going to cost more – $1,200 more; making the final price tag $3,200.

Herein lies the problem – while I was to be a grown-up, 30-year-old woman and pay for fixing my own car, I no longer could. I don’t have the additional $1,200 for it but the car needs to be fixed so I asked mom and dad… with a smile of course!  My parents agreed to loan me the money with the provision they have it back by the summer… something about a vacation?!

At the end of the day I may be 30, and I am truly a grown up, but there are still times I depend on my parents to help me out. Ok, so I only have ever asked for help when it came to my car but still… I am lucky to have them. But then again, had I not moved here in 2002 and bought this car, would I need to ask for their help? Is it my car’s fault I need my parent’s help sometimes? Hmmm… something to think about…

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