The vehicle shown is… or was… the finest automobile ever owned by yours truly. It’s a Lincoln MKT… I spared no expense – because when one finances a car it’s not like you’re spending real money. Man, when I tell you that it had all the bells and whistles, I mean ALL of them. FOUR air conditioned seats (because I wouldn’t want my passengers I carried once every six months to be uncomfortable in the summertime)… Twin turbo engine (which could (and did) accelerate faster 0-60 (and beyond) faster than my other vehicle – which is no slouch itself). Just to make sure everyone knew that it was the expensive version of the car, I made sure it had the 20″ wheels on it too!
All of which meant that, when the writing on the wall appeared and I knew I had to sell her, I was internally devastated. When I bought this car, I knew I’d arrived. What would it say about me when I got rid of it? How would I feel???
Just a couple of weeks later, the appointed hour came. A nice family that actually did need (and could afford) my beautiful beast stole her from me (for my asking price).
And what happened to me as I turned the keys over one last time and signed the paperwork?
I was relieved. And shocked… about how relieved I felt.
A great weight had been lifted off of me (and my wallet). You see, it’s not just the payment that was hanging over my head… that was just the start of the fun! There was also the additional insurance (the twin turbo motor means that your insurance payments get turbocharged too! PLUS you get to buy full coverage when you’re making payments!). Then there was the little item about premium fuel. You see, premium cars like premium gasoline. They also like a LOT of it. Finally, I was relieved of the general anxiety that I never knew existed from cars of this type. I was anxious all the time that something was going to happen to this car. I had to park in special spots. I tried to find other nice cars to park around. I had to do walkarounds of this car every time I wanted to leave.
All of that was gone.
You see, I replaced the above-pictured gem with this little diamond-in-the-rough:This is a 2005 Mazda 6. It’s “sporty”. It has also never seen even a 5th, must less a 6th, cylinder. The only thing turbocharged about it is the amount of paint peeling off its bumper. Premium fuel, you ask? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I reply.
And you know what else… I have regained a great deal of my tranquility by this purchase. This is, perhaps, one of the 5 greatest purchases I made in my life. For the payment up front of 6 months worth of payments I would have made toward the Lincoln, I have this sweet baby all to myself. Insurance payments? Try less than half what I was paying before. Gas mileage? It goes twice as far on a gallon of regular unleaded as the Lincoln would have on a gallon of premium pushwater.
As a matter of fact, about a week later, someone sideswiped this car and left me with a phony number to call for insurance. You know how I felt? HAPPY! Can you imagine how ticked off I would have been if someone smashed my beautiful Lincoln???
BUT, you naysayers utter, what about reliability?!?!? Here’s the big reveal (FINALLY, dang.)! Cars over the last 10-15 years have become remarkably reliable – hardly ever needing much more than cosmetic repairs and minor (usually scheduled) maintenance. In fact, cars have become SO reliable that car manufacturers, in an effort to prop up the repair shop industry (of which they are a part), have been forced to develop sneaky little ways to get you to bring your car back for repairs!
For example, have you ever had a “Check Engine Light” come on? Did you take your car to the shop to have it looked at? SUCKER.
For $20 you can buy the same diagnostic tool a dealership will use to tell you what is wrong with your car. Almost every single time you’ll check this “Check Engine Light”, the code reader will spit out something involving the emissions system. Almost. Every. Single. Time. In other words, there is nothing wrong with the mechanical workings of your vehicle.
Now, in Texas, that means that you’ll have trouble getting your car inspected. You see, the Texas government, in an effort to prop up the car repair industry, requires that you get an emissions inspection every year. Call it a tax on people who drive older car (usually the poors, like me!). In most other states without a legislature willing to prop up theft by car dealerships, that means you probably only have another 200,000 miles of reliable operation until the wheels fall off.
Even in Texas, however, you can get around the problem. First (with your handy $20 reader), reset the light. Then remind yourself of the year model of your car. 2001 or older? Drive it right to the inspection center and get your sticker! Is it a newer model? Drive it about 50 miles, then drive it to the inspection center and get your sticker! (You see, manufacturers figured out that people like me were starting to do this, so they programmed a workaround to notify inspection centers if you reset your own code… But car manufacturers are also cheap, so the computers they install in the vehicles only have enough memory to store readings for about 50 miles or so.)
Too cheap to drop the $20 on a code reader? I like you already! You can just unhook the negative (black) battery cable from your battery and let it sit for about ten minutes (to resent the computer). Then follow the remaining steps in the paragraph above.
Use this trick to keep your old car running for 300k miles on the cheap – while also sticking it to The Man!