Why I Am No Longer A Car Guy

Why I Am No Longer A Car Guy

I used to be a car guy, read car magazines, watched car shows on TV, went to the local “cruise nights” and I’ve owned 8 cars.

But in the last few weeks my life long obsession came to a screeching halt.

Have you seen the price of new and used cars lately? Its ridiculous and don't even speak of trying to repair a car.

Last month I was all set to take ownership of my late father's beloved truck granted it would need a few repairs. A few repairs turned into nearly $ 2,000 of work (and the engine was still not reliable), and to make the truck a decent second vehicle would have easily taken another $ 3,000 in upgrades (i.e. paint, radio, running boards). I could see proverbial handwriting on the wall and put the truck up at my father’s estate auction and we recouped the $ 2,000 we put into it and then some.

So then I was going to go out and buy another truck. On the way home from closing my dad’s downstate estate, I stopped in the Kankakee area to check out a used Chevrolet Silverado truck at a new car dealership. The truck was over 10 years old, had over 150,000 miles but appeared solid (with a little surface rust), in the online advertisement.

My wife and I went to see it and if you looked up the term “rust bucket” on Wikipedia a picture of this vehicle would appear. It was rusted on the side of the body deep on the rear fenders and all under the cab (not easily seen in the pictures at the dealers website), you had to assume the frame and undercarriage had to be rusted from the amount of visible rust and this truck's price was $ 6,000.

So then I used several smart phone apps to try and find a reasonable price second car or truck. I found a car I had slobbered over since my college days, a Volvo S70 (previously 850), loaded with options for $ 3,000 at a local car lot. And again a vehicle with over 150,000 miles but those Volvos last forever. I used on online car history verification service (Carfax), to check the car’s past and turns out it had failed not one or two but three emissions tests in the past 18 months.

Lastly I found another used Chevy Silverado near my job in the western suburbs, another vehicle ten plus years old with over 150,000 miles and this one was near
$ 7,000, nothing particular wrong just for that expense it seemed a bit much especially since the leather seats were really worn and I’d have to sink a few thousand in it to get it up to par.

I did look at higher priced vehicles and really liked used Honda Ridgeline medium sized pickups but even at $ 15,000 they had over 100,000 miles but were less than 10 years old but were far from new.

I then thought of the costs of gas, insurance, plates and maintenance and how my wife and I had sunk a ton of money into our former second car, a 2005 Ford Taurus and ended up selling it cheap but was happy to get rid of that two ton money pit.

This whole experience has taken the fun out of cars for me along since I'm no longer willing to bankrupt myself over any car.

I now understood why young adults (millennials), for the most part aren’t buying cars at the rate of the rest of us, if nothing more than the overall price of the car and gas, its astronomical to have one car much less two. Even though suburban living pretty much requires families to have multiple vehicles.

I also get why a lot of people are just holding on to cars, the average car on the road now is over ten years old.

I’ve decided not to even buy a second car and try and make it as a one car household in the name of trying to be smart about money.

And don’t even get me started on the price of new cars, my Chevrolet Malibu is the only (and last), new car I will buy, to think of spending $ 30,000 or more on a vehicle blows my mind.

Not the mention the classic car market is insane, antique vehicles are now seen as “investments” and if you watch the classic car auctions its completely out of the hands of us regular working people and I can't just "appreciate" cars like art work. The thing that made cars fun for me is that they were tangible and now most don't make financial sense. My favorite car of all time was the mid 1980’s Buick Grand National and for a decent one now it’s near $ 30,000, sorry but that’s just now unreasonable and now I’ll concentrate on being a BBQ grill guy.

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email charles.w.johnson@hotmail.com

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