Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Used Cars: How I Inherit Others' Laziness

I have never been fortunate (rich) enough to buy a vehicle brand new, with only a few miles on the odometer. I have fantasized about going into a dealership one day and ordering a new vehicle with everything I desire, but I wonder if that dream will ever be realized. I know a brand new car loses value as soon as you purchase it which is why I continue to buy used vehicles and let someone else eat the drop in the vehicle's value.

Still, I sit up at night fantasizing what its like to have a vehicle without any blemishes left by a careless previous owner. Okay, I don't really sit up at night, but sometimes during the mundane tasks during the daylight hours I dream about it. The problem is I'm a little OCD when it comes to cars, so I notice little things about vehicles most people don't even process. In fact, one time a mechanic joked that the exterior of my engine was clean enough to eat off of it.

Buying used cars means you inherit other people's laziness, or at least the problems they didn't solve because of laziness. Once when I was car shopping, the sales agent showed me a Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer Edition. The truck was only a rear-wheel-drive model, which was a huge drawback, plus it was abused hard. For example, a child had drawn a nice picture on the back of the driver's seat--in pen. Melted candy was crusted in each of the cup holders. The vehicle definitely was not babied.

Every car I have owned has told a story about the previous owner. Simple items neglected, such as keeping the battery terminals free of corrosion, become large problems I have to correct. One car I owned had a copy of a book about Charles Manson stuck under a seat, along with some old Puff Daddy tapes and a matchbook from a bar in Brooklyn. I have only owned two cars whose previous owners took meticulous care of them, and let me tell you I appreciated those individuals' attention to detail.

Still, there's something rewarding about taking a car that's a little rough around the edges and transforming back into the beautiful machine it was meant to be. It's amazing to me that some people will essentially throw away a car that just needs a little bit of work, opting instead to mindlessly follow the slick advertising for new cars that might even be mechanically inferior to what they had.