Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Papa Don't Preach... I'm Keeping My Volvo

There was a point in my life where I thought I would never be able to afford a Volvo before I was 40. When I was looking to sell my last truck and in the market for something safer in which Cohen could be driven through the desert, I made the mistake of calling my friend Ryan, who told me that nothing safe exists for under $10,000. I panicked and he backpedaled by telling me he had heard good things about the Volvo wagon. They are cool, hip, safe, and reliable. We also had a friend that works on them. Dan agreed that this was a good way to go and we began shopping.

I immediately got my heart set on a white Volvo sedan that was out of our price range. After test driving it, realizing we couldn't afford it, and getting totally bummed out, I flipped through the Auto Trader once more and saw what would soon become our 1995 Emerald Green Volvo 850 Turbo wagon. The sellers seemed nice enough. They loved the car, wanted to keep it but were converting to bio-fuel. Needed a diesel wagon. Included with our purchase was a binder containing a receipt for every repair ever done to this car since the day it drove off the lot. The book was thick and it was hard to decide if this was helpful stroke of luck or if it an obvious omen.

The car was listed for $5300. Our budget was $5500. We drove the car and loved it, aside from a few aesthetic dings the car seemed to be in great shape. I asked the lowest price they would consider. The husband immediately drops the price to $4600, while Dan and I had already counted out $4800 to offer. We were so shocked and excited that the he dropped the price so much we forgot to continue bartering, didn't even think to ask why he would drop the price so low, and gave the man the money.

On the drive home we tried to put a tape in the cassette player and it would not play. It rained the next week and the driver side windshield wiper is warped so it would not clear the driver's view. Within a month, our friend that worked on Volvos moved back east to Maine. A month and a half later the brakes went out while I was pulling out of my parking space at the market. New brakes, front and back and a new brake line cost us $472. A month and a half after that the car began locking and unlocking itself whenever we drove over a bump. Then, last week, a shudder when braking at high speeds became noticeable. Had to have the rotors flipped, $80. While driving the Volvo this morning the locks were constantly locking and unlocking in rapid succession until the motors died one at a time, leaving only the driver's side lock click... clic...cli... dead. Manual locks. Fine by me.

At this point, I am happy that it cost so little to flip the rotors, I believe the mechanic when he tells me I have a good car, and feel that the manual locks are a gift because we got them for free. Dan, on the other hand, is officially over the Volvo. He sent me an ad for a Hyundai last week, to consider instead. I introduced myself as his wife and asked if we've ever met. I drive trucks. I conceded to a wagon because it was a Volvo. His counter argument is that while we could afford a Volvo, we cannot afford to maintain a Volvo. So here we are - do I sell while it is working condition, get out while I can, or drive it until I kill it again and then have to take less than half of what I paid for it because I am stuck selling a broken car? If you think I am going to choose the former, think back to when I found the booklet of repair receipts to be a helpful stroke of luck.


Anonymous said...

hey lady, i used to drive a truck until i gave into yuppiedom and settled in a........well, a hyundai. aw, crap. now i'm depressed. there ought to be a support group for people who feel this way, like 'remaining men together' from fight club? like, 'you're still tough and awesome even though you gave up the truck and now make the daily commute in a small korean sedan,' right? right. ;)

- laurel

Rachel said...

We traded in our two death traps (a 95 Saturn and a Honda CRX) when I got pregnant with Abby. We went to CarMax and bought a 1995 Toyota Avalon. I love it. It has taken some work, but the car runs great. And it's safe. And it's big enough to now fit two car seats, as well as a 6'1 husband. We are thinking about a newer car, but I won't budge . . . I love my car. Broken inside driver's side door and all. After all, I broke it slamming it too hard to make a point.