Honesty time: I’ve debated about writing this post for a few days now. Had I posted this immediately ‘after’ I would have been in full-blown bitchy rant mode. I have calmed slightly, but I know myself, and I know that this could (will?) turn into something unpleasant very easily.
There are certain relationships in my life that are…complicated…as my blogger friend The Dancing Professor once noted in a comment about some topic that has been long forgotten. This post centers on a large portion of my frustration surrounding that relationship, and could tangentially be a bitch fest for the world to read. I am going to attempt to prevent that, but you’ve been warned.
The still-living-at-home-daughter, aka: the youngest daughter, aka: the anxious to be employed new geologist daughter, will soon be in possession of her third car since turning 16. I know that there are posts in my archives that detail a back story, but to save you time…
Car #1 was a manual transmission which she did not know how to drive. The clutch was replaced in and around her attempts to learn. The clutch went out a second time in and around her attempts to learn. I have confidence that she could have mastered the concepts, just not in a car that she needed to be reliable, usable without fail on a daily basis, and that she really wanted to drive. She hated the car, hated the idea of manual transmission from the get-go and unfortunately was never fully consulted about this type of car prior to it being handed to her as her First Car. I have long held a decided resentment about all aspects of this purchase. The car did not stick around to be repaired, nor was it a good fit to begin with.
Car #2, her current, but now death trap car, has served her fairly well by limping along with failing systems and parts, for about four years. It actually was a perfect car for her from the standpoint of body type and designed use This is the Jeep that she almost always wanted. It took her to the deserts of Oregon for 6 weeks and back. It has taken her on road trips, and mountain excursions. It has cost her enough money in gas that she probably could have used that money for a brand new car. She has watched it slowly die from neglect. This past weekend she was extremely fortunate that the dying part was not reversed. She came home Sunday night from a road trip far, far away. Monday morning she had no brakes. None. Zero.
This is where the possible tangent/rant/bitch fest could begin. My car knowledge is limited at best to rudimentary maintenance and knowledge on things like tires, oil, fuses, odds and ends and pieces and parts, odd noises that signal things like worn out brake pads, dripping fluids…basically I know enough to know when I need help. I have tried with all three of our children to pass on my skills in observation and the ideal that ‘if it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t, so get to a mechanic soon or you might be screwed and unhappy’ version of motherly advice. The other parental figure in this equation may or may not have a greater depth of understanding when it comes to cars. I think that the knowledge is there, but I have often questioned why it has never really been used to teach our children certain things about the vehicles we have purchased for them.
There seems to be a pervasive laissez faire attitude going on. Something like, “once the check is written, you’re on your own,” or possibly something along the lines of “drive it until it dies because it didn’t cost much,” or maybe even something like “I don’t know how to teach you what you need to know and unless you ask, beg and plead (which still won’t do you any good) you really need to take it upon yourself to figure out this vehicle because it will die on the road.”
There is also greatly divergent ideology regarding monies spent on a vehicle and maintenance equating to the need not to replace said vehicle every 2 years. As an aside, between three children they have driven/owned what will soon be six cars while under our roof.
That said, we are not rich folk and it was never our intent to simply hand each of our children A BRAND NEW CAR! at age sixteen. Financially circumstances have been different as each child has reached that magic age and waited anxiously for a car key so there was that factor as well in the consideration of make, model, year, and condition of the vehicle they received, but they all understood that it was never going to be NEW new.
This back story is inadequate to supply a complete picture. So many other factors surround this ongoing issue- responsibility, communication, roles -but…as I don’t often write about spousal issues here, you are just going to have to understand that you are missing copious amounts of information that would add greatly to my desire to rant and blame and fixate on anger and the like.
To conclude, we are now in the hunt for Car #3 for this last daughter who cannot, at this time, afford to purchase her own car. Why not just fix the brakes, you ask? Oh dear, dear reader. There is so much beyond just fixing the brakes that this vehicle needs. The cost to fix the brakes alone would far surpass what this old, tired, sad monstrosity is worth. This car will be sold for parts, and that won’t get us much. We will watch it be towed away. It’s time came and went so many months and road trips ago.
I am painfully aware that buying a used car is always fraught with risk. Buying a new car can be risky as well. I hope to split the difference this time. Car #3 will be newer than the standard old versions purchased in past years, but we are also not taking on a car payment, nor is the daughter able to do that at this time. I want a vehicle that has a reasonable amount of mileage for its age, parts and systems that are now, and will (fingers crossed) continue to be functional into the near future, and most of all something that I don’t have to fear, more than necessary, will lead to a midnight call informing me that the daughter is stuck, or worse. Car #3 will cost substantially more than the typical 2-3K that previous cars have been purchased for. It will be a car with a model year that begins with a 20 instead of a 19. It will not be purchased simply because a friend knows a friend, or because it was top of the line when it was new, or is an only one owner car. It will be researched as much as one can possibly research a used car. It will be checked and prodded and tested, as much as one can do in that area as well. It will be maintained. The daughter herself, in her infinite wisdom and self-determination has already seen to that, lining up a resource who is very willing to teach and guide on the necessary basics.
There should be obvious lessons that cheap and un-maintained gets you nowhere in the end. Finding and spending a reasonable amount initially will hopefully pay off in the end, although we know that there are no guarantees. This post however, must be the last and final post that I write regarding cars purchased in our household. They (the adult children) are now, or will soon be, all on their own and I, quite frankly, am done with this whole used car business.