Friday, February 20, 2009

My '98 Prizm: A Retrospective

It was late December 2000 when I bought my first and only car. I was right out of college and working part time. It was a big deal for me. My dad went with me to buy it at Riverton Chevrolet. It was used, about 24K miles. $8500.

I'll never forget the morning after I bought that car. My dad walked into my bedroom (I hadn't woken up yet) with a blank check. He was half laughing, but inside he felt really bad because what he had to tell me was that he just backed into my car as he was coming out of the driveway and scraped it up a bit. He already made arrangements to have it fixed.

Since then, my car has been to the body shop one other time. In April 2003 it scraped up a little bit on North Temple somewhere. The damage wasn't too bad. I actually made $300 off of that deal because my body shop guy did it for real cheap.

It's been a great car. It never breaks down. I've replaced the battery once, the brake pads and the starter. And most recently, the driver's door handle.

A few weeks ago I got in a minor wreck in a parking lot. The damages were assessed at $1800. But yesterday I got a call from my insurance letting me know that the body shop found more damage and the repairs are now closer to $2400. And with that, it is a total loss. $2400 = total loss on my car. My car that I drove around for the past week; runs fine. I had a decision to either fix the car or let it go. When you think that a car has been “totaled” you think “Man, it must have been banged up real bad.” But, no. You want to see what a totaled car looks like?

From looking at it, you'd wonder if I'd need to have it fixed at all. I know that water would get in the trunk if we didn't fix it. And I'm thinking it wouldn't pass inspection either. So after 26 hours of deliberation, I made my final decision to keep it. Why?

1. I've really enjoyed not having car payments these past 5 years. And I've saved a lot of $$$

2. I wasn't planning on getting a new one for another 2 or 3 years anyway. The shop said it would run just as it did before, so really, it's like the accident never happened, except if my car gets totaled again – heaven forbid – my insurance check will be significantly less. I'm banking on that not happening.

3. My insurance payment on this thing is barely anything at all.

4. If I want to go back to school or buy a home in the next year or two, I can't afford a car payment on top of everything else.

5. It's a good little car.

6. It has a full tank of gas.

I really hate making these decisions -- these "Plan B" decisions; decisions I would rather not make. I would like a new car when I'm ready for a new car. Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. Fortunately, my car wouldn't turn over much of a resale, even without this accident so I don't have to feel too bad about it.

Dear car: you've been good to me. I promise to be good to you. Here's to another couple years.


Ilene said...

I'm not ready for you to give up your little Prizm either. Your first car is special; especially in your case. I remember you and I dreaming about life with a car. I was so proud when you bought your Prizm. Jealous too because I will still bussing it when you were zipping around town. Dan thinks I married him for love but really it was for his car.

Annie said...

I especially love reason number 6. Every time I drive the work car for a couple of days I am so happy to sit in my own little car again. And every time I think I want a new car I go and get my old car washed and it looks so pretty and I'm happy again. I guess I'm easy to please.

Kelly D. said...

I'm glad you still had some choice in the matter. I keep getting pushed out of cars I love (for instance, when the Carola could no longer hold three carseats and I had to get the van). Here's to a great, accident-free two years with your Prizm!

boneck family said...

i liked the full tank of gas reason to keep it. you could get it if you wanted it though.
you know its a great time to buy a car, you should think about it.
ps i laughed out loud when i read that your dad backed into your new car! sad but sooo good!