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Goodbye Old Friend

June 24, 2016

Goodbye old friend. I’m sorry to see you go but fear not, I shall raise your baby as my own.

Yes, I’m talking about a car.

Last Thursday, I received a quote of a substantial sum of money to keep my car from not dying any day now. For the past year, it had been burning oil. The burning oil, I believe was causing issues in other parts. The alternator was about to go. The water pump was about to go. The transmission was having some issues which were generally causing my car to shake violently. The transmission could be fixed. The alternator and water pump could be replaced. The burning oil could not be fixed. It was just going to get worse and worse and cause other system failures going forward. I knew that. I just really wanted to see my car go past 300,000 km. Hell. I really thought I could get 400,000 out of it. 287,500. That’s what it done. (178,644 miles for y’all ‘mericans.)

Tuesday, I spoke to a trustworthy mechanic. “Get a new car. Go see these guys two towns away. It’ll be worth it.” I drove two towns away even though the car brand has a dealership 500 m from my office. (I did go there first. I didn’t like the salesman I spoke to.) I took a test drive. Told the salesman I need to sleep on it but you’ll hear from me tomorrow.

On the drive home from the dealership two towns away, two kilometers from my house. The car lost power. All the electrical shut off, the engine powered down, I coasted into the right lane and then into a bus stop. Time to finally use that auto-club membership I been paying for dutifully.

Wednesday, I borrowed Carmine’s evenings and weekends car and drove back to that dealership two towns away and signed the fancy paper.

Yesterday, I bought me a shiny new car.

The Japanese-assembled 2008 silver Toyota RAV4 AWD Limited has been towed to the great scrap heap in the sky (or wherever, I traded it in and got some value for it). In it’s place in my driveway now rests a locally-assembled 2016 silver Toyota RAV4 AWD LE.

Here’s the big difference between the two. The Limited was the all-the-bells-and-whistles edition with the leather seats and the sky roof and fog lights and the upgraded audio system with the built-in sat-nav and the power driver seat. The LE is the base model. So, no leather. Don’t care about leather. I’m fine with fabric. I only ever use the sun roof when I’m hauling things that are longer than ten feet which I run up through the open sun roof because I’m too lazy to tie it to the roof rack. The fog lights, I never used. They don’t make a difference in the fog and I live in a foggy area. The sat-nav was woefully out-of-date ($250 to update the map disc) and with current smart phone technology, rendered obsolete. Being the only driver of the car, I don’t need to adjust the seat all that often so I’m willing to use the manual pump to adjust the height of the seat and the release lever to adjust it’s placement. The bells-and-whistles I like and probably need are all standard on pretty much every car on the market today. I need automatic transmission. Good luck finding standard on anything that isn’t a sports car. I really like power steering because when it died on the old car on Tuesday, changing lanes was surprisingly difficult. ABS very useful when you’re not used to anything but. Power windows are nice because I don’t use the A/C and don’t want to have to reach over and manually open all four windows. But if I want conditioned air, it’s standard.

The one thing I did get was the upgrade package. It contains a rear-view camera, a touch-screen audio system, Bluetooth connectivity for my smart phone, a tonneau cover and heated front seats. I don’t care about the camera. I’d rather drive properly using mirrors and be a good driver, not a video game driver. The concept of a touch screen I don’t really like even though everything today has one. It was fun when it was a new technology but it doesn’t make sense to me. When my finger and hand is in front of a touch screen, I can’t see what I’m touching. I am capable of typing without looking at the keys and therefore there are very few fingerprints on my computer screen. The Bluetooth is useful. I’m on my phone a lot for work and I drive a lot for work. Being able to communicate hands-free will help me from getting those pricey tickets from the local constabulary. (Carmine got one on Wednesday. Yikes, them things is pricey.) I actually use the tonneau cover regularly. I don’t like people peering into trunk space of the car. The heated front seats are the one thing my passengers complain about when I give them free rides. (Yes I know, “You can always walk?”) Every time I would drive my mother somewhere in the winter, the first thing she’d do when she sat down in the car would be to reach for where the butt-warmer button would be but isn’t. “I keep forgetting. Your car doesn’t have butt warmers.”

It’s probably going to take a week or so before this car feels like it’s mine. It still feels like I’m driving a rental car. The new car smell is pretty strong. The tires are still shiny. The steering wheel and driver seat haven’t molded to my hands and buttocks yet.

Here’s the downside to this new car. The spare tire is underneath the trunk not on the back door so the interior storage space which is supposed to be greater is actually less because the tire is using up so much of it. I would actually use that stow-away storage space below the trunk for things like my hard hat, work boots, work gloves, fold-up dolly, snow brush, jumper cables and the ropes and cables and things to tie stuff to the roof rack. There’s no good place for space change. The old car has this handy little pocket left of the steering wheel which was the best thing ever for spare change. When I hit the drive-through for some coffee or something, the change was right there. It was probably the most intuitive feature I’ve ever seen in any car. The cup holders in this new car don’t have a removable lining. The old car had these rubber pockets that fit in the cup holders. They had some give to them to snuggley hug most any cup or bottle and because they were removable, cleaning was much easier. I would pop out the rubber liner, wash it in the kitchen sink then put it back. Now, if something gets in the cup holder, I have to get in there and scrub it clean.

Okay, seriously Toyota. Bring back that spare change pocket. That thing was the best thing ever.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2016 1:13 am

    It’s the little things that matter most. I’m with you on cupholders and that spare change pocket sounds awesome. Our last car didn’t have cupholders at all and guess what we complained about often?

    I looked up a pic of your new car – looks nice! Very sporty. :) Congratulations on the new addition to the family!

    • June 25, 2016 7:04 am

      The car, it had character. The new doesn’t. That tire on the back door really made the look.

      • June 26, 2016 1:10 am

        Isn’t it funny how cars can seem to have personalities like that? We always named our cars until this latest one, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of character either.

  2. June 25, 2016 6:08 pm

    Congrats on your new ride! It sounds pretty sweet, with the exception of the change pocket and cup holder liners. All the necessaries are present and accounted for.

    Thanks for teaching me a new term: tonneau cover. Our new (less than a year old) car has one, but I didn’t know the proper name for it. We’ve been calling it, I don’t know what. The trunk cover, or something.

    I’m not a fan of heated seats. My ass is hot enough already. Ha! But seriously, I don’t enjoy having my butt heated up without my permission. It’s a regular occurrence that I get a ride with someone and suddenly wonder why my tush is so toasty. Please turn that heating element off. I can generate my own heat just fine, thanks very much.

  3. July 22, 2016 2:18 pm

    Congratulations! Like you, I tend toward the base models…. more bells and whistles mean there’s more to go wrong! It’s getting harder to find standard transmissions here in the states. have to be special ordered, even on sports cars! Aggravating for those of us who like the shifter…

    • July 25, 2016 6:06 am

      Oh no. I got automatic transmission. Where the heck am I going to find standard these days?

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