6.16.2012

FOCUS

not ours, but a close facsimile
When Mr. H-B and I got married he had a 1993 Honda Accord and I had a 1999 Toyota Camry. The Accord was a freebie from my brother-in-law's family; it had 250,000 miles, was turquoise, and had a ton of rust on the wheel wells. I bought my Camry back in 2003 when I returned from study abroad. Both cars served us well, though we've had our share of car trouble since we got married. Each summer that we've been together, one or more of the cars was in need of major repairs. Mr. H-B did a lot of them (thank you, mechanically-inclined husband), but sadly cars just don't last forever. Here's a snapshot of some of the more major issues:
  • 2008 - I replaced the air conditioner in the Camry before we got married.
  • 2009 - We had transmission work done on the Accord; we had major suspension work done on the Camry
  • 2010 - Mr. H-B replaced the air conditioner compressor in the Camry. 
  • 2011 - The Camry needed a new transmission and major suspension work, so we bought a new car. 
  • 2012 - I tried to start the Accord on Tuesday morning (the 12th) and couldn't. We decided it was the last straw. 
I never in a million years would have guessed that the Camry would be the first of our cars to go, as it was significantly newer than the Accord. But it was, and we replaced it last summer with a dark blue Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (it's so nerdy I can barely stand it). We knew that it was just a matter of time before the Accord would stop running, so we have been researching cars for months. Because Mr. H-B likes to do repair work, we knew we wanted something that was relatively easy to work on. We also knew that we wanted something that was economical to drive during a 2-hour commute three days a week. Finally, we spent hours perusing Consumer Reports and other ratings sites to figure out what would have long-term reliability.

Armed with our research, we headed out to various local dealerships to make our biggest purchase to date. We found what we were looking for at a local Ford dealership that specializes in used car sales. We chose a 2003 Ford Focus with just over 100,000 miles on it. It gets fantastic gas mileage, is very comfortable (especially because it has A/C and the Accord no longer did), and is in excellent condition. I think that an older woman owned the car before us, based on some handwriting in the owner's manual. Whoever s/he was, the upholstery and carpet are in immaculate shape. I was shocked, actually! We payed well under blue book for the car and are really happy with our purchase. I confess that I was very nervous to go through the car purchase process without my parents for the first time, but I think we did well.

What kinds of cars do you drive? How do you approach the repair and car buying experience? Am I the only one that gets thoroughly intimidated by it?

6 comments:

Jules said...

Our approach to buying a new car is probably best summed up by saying that we've been talking about getting one for about a year and half now and have not really taken any steps beyond that. So kudos to you guys for being grownups! ;)

Jena Nicole said...

I have two rules when buying cars for our household.
1) I cannot be new. I think buying new is a waste of money.
2) It must be AWD. (I prefer Subaru, but I don't require that to be the brand Seth buys)

These two rules have served us really well... We actually saw the value of our car INCREASE the first year we owned it.
We've been really lucky with cars, however. Neither of our cars has ever had to have anything repaired as long as we've been married (and Seth drives a 1995 Ford Mustang - this doesn't meet my requirements because he's had it since he was 16).
Actually, I haven't had a car need a repair since I was a teenager... So, I've been really lucky with that. But, I attribute this to owning Subaru's (and regular maintenance)... Which is why I will never own another brand as long as I live.

Señora H-B said...

Jules - Ha! We've been talking about this for a year, just waiting for the VERY OLD car to die.

Jena - I'm so impressed that you haven't had very many repairs. I am definitely with you on regular maintenance. It makes such a difference - especially as cars get older.

Grandma H said...

I will relax now knowing you're in a safe car with air-conditioning!Well done...wished we lived closer, we could put Isaac to work on some of our car issues!

Meg said...

Once upon a time, my dad went car shopping with me to show me how much work it was and how long it takes. I pretty much just wanted a newer version of what I had - a Honda that had a stick shift - and I'd found an ad in the paper for a rebuilt that was really inexpensive. We went and checked it out, not really expecting much, and it was amazing. So I bought the first car I drove, and the only care I looked at. Sorry, Pop. I guess I'll have to wait until the next car-buying experience to learn my lesson. (Four years later, I've never had any problems with it, even though I've driven it across the country about 4 times.)

Señora H-B said...

Meg - I'm so glad you have had a good experience with your cars! Overall, I've had many good cars - just kept them too long!