For the last couple of days, I've been going through a real mess with my current car - a 5 1/2 year old Camaro Z28. It's been in the shop for the last two days getting $2000 worth of repairs. This is likely to be the last time this car ever sees a repair shop, at least with me as an owner.
I had said in previous blog entries that while my car didn't run perfectly, I didn't think it was time to replace it yet. I felt that if I had to spend a couple hundred dollars every 6 months to fix it, that was fine. It was still cheaper than buying a new car. My general rule was $500 for repairs every 6 months was an acceptable amount. Compare $500 once to $500 every month and it still works out to be more affordable to keep the older, beat-up but paid-for car. This trip to the repair shop broke the threshold that caused me to decide to replace the car. $500 once every 6 months, I can live with. $2000 every 6 months I cannot. The current Kelly Blue Book trade-in value for my car is about $4500. I just spent half of the value of my car making repairs to it! In my opinion, this pushes it past the point of worth keeping. I plan on getting the car back, and sometime in the next couple of months, trading it in on another car, either a late model used car, or a reasonably priced new car.
I'm still trying to decide what kind of car I want to replace it with. One thing I have decided with absolute certainty is that I will not be replacing it with an SUV or truck of any kind. This is a decision sure to run counter to my family again. Everyone else in my family owns either an SUV or a minivan. I've always been a fiercely independent person. My mother used to say that "I marched to the beat of my own drum - a tuba!" I do things the way I feel it should be done, not the way 'everyone else' believes it should be done. Sometimes, I'm wrong, sometimes I'm right.
Why have I decided not to get an SUV? In a word - stability. When you've spent the last 5 years driving a sports car that handles incredibly well and sticks to the road like glue, you cannot stomach driving a top-heavy vehicle with a tendency to flip over. I've seen more scenes of SUVs that went out of control, and flipped over than I can count. One day I witnessed the tail end of an accident involving an SUV. The SUV couldn't have been going more than 30 miles an hour and yet when it was sideswiped by a car, the SUV rolled completely over and landed back on it's wheels. I will not drive a vehicle, that in my opinion is unsafe. In the past, whenever I've driven an SUV, it has always felt unstable to me. Everytime I change lanes, I can fee the thing pitch way too much to one side. Now, I'm not driving like a maniac when I drive these things. I drive very conservatively and yet, I still feel this pitch. Right now, while my car is in the shop, I ended up driving, of all things an F250 Super Duty pickup truck. Believe it or not, that is all the rental car company had available. This thing is massive! I feel like I'm driving a bus. This thing is so damn big, it makes SUVs look small. After looking at the other cars from the point of view of this thing, I'm scared to think of myself driving a car among all these monsters.
Being one of the few people left in the US who does not drive an SUV puts me at a disadvantage. Try parking your low riding sports car between two SUVs. It happens every day. It's to the point now that every time I back out of a parking space, I can't see a thing on either side of my car due to the behemoths on either side of me. All I can do is back up really slowly and hope whatever lumbering SUV that might be driving down the parking lot behind me sees that tiny little car pulling out in time to stop before running it over. There is an entertaining marketing campaign concerning SUV safety called ESUVEE. This web site for this campaign shows this CGI monster version of an SUV and tries to make you understand how to control the 'monster' that you drive. This is how I feel driving these things. Like I'm trying to control a monster. I worry that as the American need for 'bigger, better' continues, SUVs will get bigger and bigger and us poor car drives will get muscled off the road. Another humorous web site tells a funny story about SUVs that exemplifies this. Read the story. You might enjoy it.
The sooner I can get the beat-up Camaro back and get rid of the lumbering monstrosity that I'm driving the better.