I've had my dream car--truck actually--for just about eight years now. It was found as a surprise; a red 1998 Jeep Wrangler Sport, parked in the driveway of a friend's house where we were to have dinner. It was November, 2000. A world away from this one, only marred by the ongoing mystery of just who was going to be President, Al Gore or George W. Bush. It's hard to even put yourself there now, isn't it?
I'd always wanted a Jeep. What's more, I'd always wanted a red one, and here it was, being sold for a friend, by a friend. At the time, I was only recently beginning the long climb out of a debt hole. Buying it was a real challenge, and I was fortunate to have The Other Half to help me out, since my old car was at death's door. The old 1989 Mazda 626 was barely hanging in there, and had become a money pit. A two-year-old, barely driven Jeep was the answer.
But that was eight years ago. I still love my Jeep like a member of the family. It is long paid off, and I am long out of debt. It gets abysmal mileage, but I only drive it about 4,000 miles a year. At nearly 11 years old, it only has 46,000 miles on it, and still looks great. Even with newer, remodeled Jeeps running around everywhere, it's still my dream vehicle.
But now, like clockwork, every year when I get a new smog check before registration, I am beset with costly repairs. For four out of the last five years (at best recollection), I've been treated to expensive new problems, when all I want is a $25 smog screening. This year, it was the water pump and an oil leak, total price: $557. Less than a week later, with oil puddles in the garage, I went back to find another $600 to fix a leak caused by patching the earlier leak. Not to mention a combined seven hours waiting around for repairs.
I realize that $1,157 amounts to only three or four car payments. And the $50 registration ain't too bad compared to $400-600 for a new car. Still, I'm now wondering, when does this sort of perpetual repair work become more trouble than it's worth? Would a new car, with payments every month but no problems, be an even trade? Especially if it got better than 15 mpg.? Not sure. But I have a deal with the other half that in 2010, I deserve a vehicle made in this century!