'93 Mazda MX-6

A bug on the windshield of life

'93 Mazda MX-6
A ’93 Mazda MX-6 exactly like mine. Beautiful car, isn’t it?

Like a bug on the windshield of life. That’s how I’ve felt this week. Or maybe like there’s been a death in the family.

I put my beloved Mazda in the shop Monday morning, knowing something was seriously wrong under the hood. Actually, I’d known since the previous Friday, but it was Monday before I could get it to the shop.

Having already fretted all weekend about the car’s condition and my excruciating lack of transportation because of it, I then went through another two days of dread before the mechanic got back to me Wednesday and broke the news I’d been fearing. The transmission was shot and needed replacing.

It’s Friday now, a week since this all began, and I’m still here at home without a car, my stomach still churning and my head still spinning. It only took me a few hours to decide this was the push I’d been waiting for to get rid of my 17-year-old car,  dubbed “The Green Machine,” and move on to something more appropriate for this part of the country. I mean, the car was down to about $1,000 Blue Book value and I’d worried for years that as old as it was, something critical would fail — undoubtedly at the worst possible time and place for a no-longer-very-resourceful woman driving alone.

Still, I’m in mourning. Look at her. She’s beautiful! Still a head-turner at the ripe old age of 17. And with only 69,000 miles on her! I’d walk back to her across a parking lot and smile to myself, just knowing that sleek green coupe was mine.

Ahem. Anyway, when you set out to buy a new car, you don’t want to be in the position of having to buy one. Ideally you’d take your time to shop around, test drive, research, consider what you want and need, etc. You don’t want to have your beloved car suddenly, unexpectedly declared dead, leaving you stranded, dependent (I absolutely abhor being dependent on others), and under great pressure to buy another car ASAP.

Yes, I dramatize. But I’ve never been one of those practical types who figures as long as it has four wheels and gets me there, it’ll do. It’s just a car, right? Wrong. With me it’s a major investment in a trusted friend. It’s an extension of myself and my personality. It tells people something about me. And it’s going to be my magic carpet for a long, long time. It’s important to me to have the right car, a car I love, not just a car.

So I’ve spent several days shopping online, checking out reviews and models and trim packages and prices and inventories and trying to take a logical approach to what seems an incomprehensible amount of information (love/hate the Internet). But it’s all still pretty much a haze of data underscored by some things I know I have to do — investigate financing options, find a way to go see and test drive some cars, etc., etc., ad nauseam. It’s hard to tell if I’m making any headway or if I’m just thrashing around aimlessly trying to convince myself I’m doing something constructive.

I’ve got a ride arranged tomorrow to go see a purchasing agent who will have several cars for me to look at, based on some very loose parameters I gave him Wednesday afternoon — Toyota RAV4 V6, Suburu Forester XT, Honda CR-V or similar, new or very good used, preferably not blue (he asked about the color; it wasn’t my idea to mention it). I may take one look at them and decide they are all too small (I’m tall and … er … generously proportioned). Or I may see one that seems perfect — and then worry because I haven’t looked at any others.

I’m like that. I worry. I worry a lot. My parents called me a worrywart. Others might call me high anxiety. I prefer to think of it as being logical and carefully considering all the options and possibly scenarios in order to make more informed decisions and/or be better prepared for whatever might happen. But whatever you call it, I’ve been like a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs for a week now and it’s really wearing me down.

I’m thinking I should look at those cars tomorrow, try to chill through the weekend, and then probably rent a car Monday because I have stuff piling up that needs to get done. And having wheels will relieve some of the pressure to buy something today!

You can tell by how much I’ve written that I’m wound up about this. I talk a lot when I get wound up. I always have. My dad used to laugh at me when I did it; he thought it was cute. You can laugh at me too, if you want.

8 thoughts on “A bug on the windshield of life

  1. I don’t know if this will help, but THESE GUYS AT CARANDDRIVER.COM are usually very straightforward when it comes to what they like and don’t like. If nothing else, perusing their selection / evaluation forms should help you identify some of the things to look for in the models you’ve chosen to consider before you actually see them.

    Notice on the Honda CRV Page, that they’ve already did some comparisons.

    Good luck.

  2. IMHO, you are right to take this purchase seriously. After all, this is usually the second biggest purchase that most people make in their lifetimes.

    I don’t know who this “purchasing agent” might be that you have, but assuming we are talking used cars here, I hope the arrangement includes a complete checkup by a competent mechanic. I tell you honestly that I have bought probably a half dozen used cars in my lifetime and had bad luck with every single one of them. I finally learned my lesson and now have a 6-year-old Lexus and and an 18-year-old Honda Civic Del Sol, both bought new. The Lexus has been flawless and the Honda, (only 76,000 miles on it) also flawless except for a water pump. The Honda still has the original brakes and a/c freon (which is a clue to how I drive 🙂 ).

    For what it’s worth, I have two web sites that I trust on cars:


    The cars.com site will even help you find a mechanic – it’s low on the page, on the right. Good luck, Pied!

    1. Sorry, Jim. I just found this comment stuck in the spam filter. As it turns out, I checked both those sites as I was reading up on things. No, I didn’t go used; I’ve never bought a used car. I’m afraid of buying other people’s problems. I brought home a new Subaru Forester yesterday and will be scrupulous as always in keeping up on the maintenance schedule with the dealer. I expect to keep it a while — 10, 15, 20 years. Who knows.

  3. I have the same worries about my ’96 Camry. It was leaking oil recently, leaving a good sized spot in my parking space at work each day. No big deal, just the oil pressure sender. $130 repair. Whew. I just put new axles, disks and calipers in the front end as well as a new exhaust a few months ago- big bux. It only has 144,000 miles on it.

    The list of prospective cars sounds good to me, but I would add Honda Accord or Civic too. A lot of folks seem to be buying those Honda Fits lately too. Maybe too small for your taste? Good luck!

    1. As it turns out, I put down a deposit on a new Forester today. I thought going in I’d get the RAV4, but the Forester just seemed more comfortable. Quite a relief knowing I’ll have wheels again in a couple of days.

... and that's my two cents