Learning to live with beater cars

From the time the kids were wee babes, Jamie and I have drove older vehicles. Some may refer to them as beaters, beasts or even pieces of crap (whilst booting the wheel well over and over again because the damn thing broke down for the fifth time that month). But who’s keeping track, right?

From the time the kids were wee babes, Jamie and I have drove older vehicles. Some may refer to them as beaters, beasts or even pieces of crap (whilst booting the wheel well over and over again because the damn thing broke down for the fifth time that month).

But who’s keeping track, right?

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful and I’m not. For the most part, these beaters have continued to get us to our intended location. …

Well except for that time we were driving down the highway and the power steering went due to the serpentine belt busting. Or that other time that I never did make it to work because the car mysteriously forgot how to start its engine.

And then there were all of the minor problems we just simply learned to live with. Like only having one headlight. No, the answer was not a simple headlight swap, of course it couldn’t be that easy! It was an error in the control module — this is what I was told, at least — and the problem would cost us well over what the van in question was worth. Ever since, we have opted to limit our driving to the daylight hours.

We have learned to live without passenger side mirrors, windows that roll down and a working radio. The latter is probably the worst since I have nothing with which to drown out the children’s incessant whining.

And in turn we have learned to live with funky smells wafting in through the heat vents. And odd and eerie noises when turning the wheel too sharp or slamming on the brakes.

We have also come to terms with the unnerving reality that at any moment that two-ton piece of metal and iron we are hurtling down the road in could easily fall to pieces.

But we do what we have to get from A to B.

It was just recently that my husband and I were looking at our financials and came to the invigorating conclusion that we were indeed in the market for a new vehicle. Well, a newer vehicle at least.

So we began our hunt where else? Yes, you guessed it, Kijiji. Unfortunately, James and I are not big car people and looking at vehicles did not prove easy over a computer screen. I don’t remember the last time we had argued so vehemently with each other. It only made matters worse that we were bickering about what the nicer colour between orange and blue is for a car. Or how tall the actual SUV must be in real life. In all honesty, the kids probably were thinking that their folks had finally gone off the deep end into wacky-land.

So we decided for the sake of our marriage to go into the dealership and look around in person.

And boy howdy, I’m glad we did! For two people who were bound and determined to buy privately, we had the best experience at the dealership. Our first stop was right here in Red Deer at Gary Moe Hyundai, our salesman Kevin was spectacular! I was already sold by his wonderful people skills before even putting any serious consideration into our options. We looked a few other places in the city but our minds kept wandering back to Kevin and the Hyundai dealership. We had our eye on a Chevy Equinox and it didn’t take long for us to realize that this was most definitely the vehicle for us.

Once we decided to take the plunge and buy the beaut, I got to ring the bell that was located in the middle of the store. Everybody looked and clapped and smiled and I was in my absolute glory being the centre of attention with all those strangers — even if it was only for a few seconds.

And the aftermath of purchasing my Equinox has been pretty glorious too! Yes this is our first time buying a vehicle and yes we are currently thousands of dollars in debt with car payments. … But you know what? Totally worth it.

As I am driving down the road listening to my tunes that are cranked to the max, rolling up and down the windows as I please and smelling nothing but new car smell, I think about how fortunate our family is. We are fortunate for our health and happiness foremost, but also for how much we as a family unit have evolved in our six years together.

We have worked hard to receive the good things in life. The things we can enjoy together. And that I guess is what life is all about.

So next time you see a family cruising around in a Chevy Equinox looking insanely overjoyed to be driving safely down the road, give them a wave.

It may just be my family and we may just be busting out to some journey … just because we can.

Lindsay Brown is a Sylvan Lake mother of two and freelance columnist.

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