Saturday, December 5, 2009

What the Head Wants

My 1997 Infiniti has started showing its age. A few months ago the starter went out. This month, I'm dealing with a heater/blower fan problem, a vibrating/rubbing sound from the right rear wheel at highway speed, and problems with my stereo. For sometime I've also noticed oil spots on the driveway, where I park.

None of these problems are fatal. They are the flaws of a twelve year old car with 130K miles on the clock. Cars age in dog years. My Infiniti is a black lab with a graying muzzle and arthritis.

Like the lab, my car has lots of life left. It still likes to run. The 3.0 Nissan V6 is smooth and loves to rev. It uses regular gas and routinely gets 22-24 mpg. The transmission still snaps off
crisp shifts. The ride is not floaty or jarring--pot holes don't feel like hammer blows and yet it will corner nicely. It has room for five, even with two car seats, and a generous trunk. It also has features I like, including a sunroof, Bose stereo and leather seats. In short, it fulfills all my needs and most of my wants.

But it is 12 years old and has 130K miles...

I'm often guilty of shopping for cars online. I have a running internal debate over what kind of car I'd like to own next. Should it be something practical and reliable like a Nissan Altima, Hyundai Sonata or Ford Fusion? Or, for the same money, should I buy a used BMW M3 or Mercedes Benz AMG? Another Infiniti or Nissan Maxima is usually in my top five. So is a Mini Cooper, Mustang or Dodge Challenger.

I think the dilemma with older cars is when to stop maintaining them. The tipping point usually comes when the repair bills are more painful than car payments. For me that point is still outside my event horizon. As much as I like to dream, I usually wind up making the most practical choice, or at least a compromise. The head usually gets what it wants over the heart and in my case, I'm not ready to part with my car.

But I did see a nice Mercury Milan with 33K miles for $12K at a local dealer recently. And there is a Black 2001 Mercedes Benz E55 AMG in Texas on eBay for the same money...

1 comment:

  1. My 2002 firebird has 169,000 miles on it. A few weeks ago, I had to spend big bucks to replace leaky hoses. Still cheaper than a monthly payment on a new car. Going for 200,000!!

    Don't look. The temptation is too much!! Would tempt me to cheat on the car I love.