Thursday, October 25, 2012
When my old car died a couple months ago, I took it to my mechanic for the millionth time. He had warned me it was on it's last legs, and I had already socked a thousand bucks into various repairs over the summer. Rust, gas tank issues, exhaust problems, brake work...When he refused to let me put any more money into this car (and the brakes quit), he gave me a few pointers on buying a used car. He said that we can mostly fix stuff under the hood, but to look for something with absolutely NO RUST, because in Vermont, you can practically HEAR things rusting, it happens so fast. I added my own criteria to the list - it had to be less than ten years old, had to have less than 150, 000 miles, had to be good in the snow, had to have room for three kids, a dog and sound equipment, had to get decent gas mileage, had to be CHEAP. I assumed I'd buy another Honda or perhaps a Toyota.
As the month wore on and I borrowed car after car from friends and family while I hunted, it seemed impossible to find what I was looking for at a price I could afford. I lost track of how many dealerships I went to, I started to open my mind to other types of cars. Everybody that gave me advice had a favorite. Rusty leaned towards Volkswagen, Myra loves her little Suzuki, Dad was still gung-ho on Toyotas, Jen wanted me to get a Honda minivan, several other friends had good luck with the Ford Focus. I started to get confused on WHAT to even shop for! One of the cars I borrowed was my friend Jana's Subaru Outback. Driving it for a couple weeks while she was in Germany, I was thinking: THIS is it! The space, the way it handled, everything fit my needs. It was like a minivan, without BEING a minivan! So I started to add Subarus to my list of cars to look at.
After one particularly grueling weekend of car shopping, I came home feeling completely downhearted. There was NOTHING, it seemed, anywhere in New England that a single mom on welfare could afford. Nothing safe and reliable anyhow. Without much hope, that evening I browsed Craigslist, as I had been doing daily, and there it was, a car that looked too good to be true! 2004 Subaru Outback. Zero rust. 140,000 miles. In Rutland.
Next day, I went and checked it out, got a gut feeling that the dude that owned the used car lot was a trustworthy guy...the fact that he apologetically excused himself to pick his five year old up from a birthday party and didn't want to be late, rather than push the sale, told me a lot. All the other salesmen were like velcro and made me feel incredibly pressured. I made an appointment at a garage nearby and had them look the car over. It might need a new head gasket, they thought, but other than that, the mechanic's mouth hung open when I told him the price. He said "Buy it. Buy it QUICK." So I did. For far less than the asking price because I'd have to replace the head gasket in the near future...we took the repair cost off the price and it was a pretty sweet deal, if I do say so myself. I guess I now join the ranks of Vermont women who drive Subaru Outbacks, the unofficial State Car. But I get it. It's the heated seats, baby, the heated seats.
Posted by Emily at 1:41 PM