Again, this is another entry that has been wallowing in the “Drafts” folder of the blog for months on end and I’m not sure why I never scheduled it to upload to the website. Weird. Anyway, here is the story of why I went out and purchased that brand new car of mine!
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you remember the disaster of a time that I had getting my Honda Civic fixed a few years ago. That experience has me sworn off of buying a Honda ever again. It’s just not going to happen. So when the time came around that I needed to buy a brand new car, I knew that I wasn’t going to go to a Honda dealership that screwed me over a few years earlier. Actually, I wound up going to the Ford dealership that is literally across the street from that Honda dealership (so take that, idiots at Honda!).
You can read the link above to learn more about the financial aspect of me buying a new car. This entry is being written to describe the story of why I had to buy the new car in the first place. And it all started with paying Sears Auto Center way too much to do… nothing.
The picture above was taken sometime in early February at the Sears Auto Center in Ocean Township, New Jersey. As you’ll notice, the technicians are all standing around trying to figure out what the problem is with the Civic. This picture was taken on one of the third or fourth visits I made to that place – in about as many days. As I recall, the Civic was driving very shaky for a few weeks, but that wasn’t something that I didn’t expect for a car that was entering its twelfth year of service. Look, these cars start to make funny noises after a while – it happens!
After getting totally dicked over by the local Honda dealership (again, see the link above), I decided to go to the local Sears Auto Center to see if they could help with the weird feeling that I was getting from the Civic. They figured out that there was some belt that could use replacing, but that it wasn’t really the primary problem with the weakness that I was feeling from the engine. I asked them to go ahead and replace the belt and then we’d see if it helped with the general lack of “umph!” that I was feeling from the car. So… the guys kept the car for a night and replaced the belt. I got the car back the next day and went about my merry way.
Until the car stopped right in the middle of when I was driving it. On the same day I picked it back up from the shop.
Now don’t get me wrong – the car didn’t fishtail out of control on the highway and leave me stuck fending for my life against on-coming traffic or anything like that at all. Nope. Instead, I was driving the car on one of the major highways in my area (I believe it was US Highway 195 heading towards Trenton) and the car just stopped delivering power to the powertrain. The way I described it to the folks at the repair shop when I brought the car back to them was that I would be driving along at 60, 70, or 80 miles per hour and then I’d go to hit the gas again and nothing would happen. The car would just begin gliding. My way of combating that glide was to pop the car into neutral and work my way over to the shoulder and ultimately the median. The odd thing, though, was that once I allowed the car five or six minutes of “off” time (complete with me cursing and being furious inside the car), it would start back up and the energy would go back to the powertrain and I could travel for a short while again.
And that picture above is of the mechanics and technicians checking the engine to see what the problem could possibly be. Suffice to say, they couldn’t figure anything out and told me to go about my business with the car. The guy who manages that shop was a nice guy and said that I should bring the car back in the event that it randomly stopped again. So I thanked him and went about my way.
A day later I was getting the car towed from my home back to the Sears Auto Center. That’s right – the car stalled out again. And, without going into the boring details, the guys at Sears Auto Center couldn’t figure out what the problem was again. I managed to drive the car off of the lot and back to my place with no problems. Maybe, I thought, the problem was over and I could actually drive this car to work without any problems. The next day came and I began driving the car north on Route 18 towards my new office and – you guessed it – it randomly stopped working again. After pulling off onto the median and getting the car to start again, I drove it to one of my coworkers’ houses that was on the way to my office and he led me to a local garage where he took his cars to get fixed when they were broken down.
My coworker had been working with that mechanic for quite some time and had a great deal of faith in him. I explained to the mechanic what the problem was and he asked me to leave the car with him so he could inspect what was going on. In the mean time, my coworker took me to the local Enterprise Rent-a-Car and I rented a gigantic SUV until my Civic was back in full working order.
And here’s the most frustrating part of leaving the car with the mechanic – two days went by and he didn’t find any problems with the car. Like the guys at Sears, the mechanic said that everything worked well on the inside of the car and that he even test drove it around town and didn’t have any problems. At this point, I got the impression that these car people were beginning to think that I was nuts or something. Anyway, after dropping the rental car back at the Enterprise on a Friday morning, I was dropped off at the mechanic to pick up my car and begin the drive home.
Do you want to guess what happened next?
If you guessed that I began driving south on Route 18 and the car randomly stopped again, then you win! Correct! As I was sitting on the median of Route 18 (again) thinking about how totally f’ing inept these mechanics must be to not be able to figure out the problem, I began to realize that I needed a new car. Remarkably, the Civic was always uncomfortable, always too small for me, and I was never really happy driving the car. What the Civic was, though, was a free car with great gas mileage that fit into my financial preference of aggressive student loan repayments and my professional circumstances of having to drive hundreds of miles each week for work. As I’ve been engaged in this aggressive student loan repayment program, the Civic was the best option for me.
These were some of the many thoughts swimming through my head as I sat on the median and came to the realization that my next stop would have to be at a car dealership to start shopping.
The car dealership was my next stop. While I was driving the car home (the thing miraculously started again after five minutes of sitting on the median), I decided to stop at the local Ford dealership. I’m not going to get into the details of the 5+ hour negotiation that led me to purchase my new 2012 Ford Escape Limited Edition (the first brand new car that I ever purchased) or the fact that I spent over $1,000 getting the Civic “fixed” that week, but at least now you know the story of why I had to get a new car. In my world, when the car you’re driving breaks down six out of seven days in a week, you need to get a new vehicle. I couldn’t imagine driving on the Garden State Parkway for work and being over the Driscoll Bridge and having the car lose its “umph” like that – talk about a major, significant accident waiting to happen.
And that’s the story of why I needed to buy a new car. 🙂