Is Car-Buying Confusing, or is it Me?

Sherry McGuinn

On trying to hang on for the ride.
Photo byUncredited/Wikipedia Commons

Since my 2012, metallic chocolate brown Fiat, with only forty-seven thousand miles on it is now in that big junkyard in the sky, I am searching for a new, used car.

For seven years, I tooled around in my “Chocolate Kiss,” loving the sunroof that I never used, the front seat heaters, which I always used, the fab sound system, and the spacious interior, which was a happy surprise considering the Fiat’s petite form.

It had some giddyap to it, too, which I loved, flickering in and out of lanes like a gas-fueled Tinker Bell.

And then, it turned on me via a major internal malfunction that caused me to crash it in a Fresh Market parking lot, where I just had to go to pick up some shrimp.

Three other cars were involved and thankfully, the owners were still in the store so no one was hurt. Too, I didn’t get a ticket which was a major plus as I have an excellent driving record.

My insurer declared my sweet little car a total loss and cut me a check. I’m grateful for that but, I still think about my Fiat and how much I loved it.

That said, it’s time to move one and get it on with another vehicle. As one of my friends here suggested, I’ve thought about my husband and I being a one-car household, but he drives a Toyota FJ Cruiser, which is a fantastic car but much larger than I'm used to driving. In fact, I have to sit on a pillow in order to properly see over the steering wheel.

As the Fiat was paid off, the thought of having a car payment is daunting, to say the least. I’m not making more money, yet more will be going out.

So, I have to find a car that’s affordable and reliable, in the event the Cruiser craps out. So far, so good with it, though. It’s an awesome ride and one you rarely see. In fact, Toyota doesn’t make them anymore. They’re collector’s items, so that’s something in the event we decide to sell it or trade it in.

Here’s the problem, for me, as I hunt for my new ride. I want what I want, at a price I want. See? That’s where process gets overwhelming.

I’d love to have a sunroof again as this time I’d use it! Also, the heaters in the front are blissful. Aside from warming up one’s butt cheeks in frigid weather, they help ease lower back pain. And, I’d like an engine with some juice to it. Oh, and I also want a car that gets high marks for safety and reliability. And, Bluetooth. That’s a must. Finally, I’d love a badass-looking set of wheels.

No doubt, you snorted at that last bit. I know. I know.

At the beginning of this “journey,” I wanted a Hyundai. I looked at Elantras but decided there wasn’t enough “ground clearance,” especially if my husband needs to drive it.

I’ve noticed that so many cars share the same design, especially sedans. They’re relatively sleek, and their noses are “dipped,” which to me, indicates very little headroom. I don’t like to sink into a car. Rather, I prefer a bit of a lift like my Fiat had for optimum visibility. And yes, I know seats can be raised but still, I want what I want!

Sedans. SUVs. Crossovers. Hybrids. Compacts. Oh. My.

Hell. At this rate, I’ll be lucky to be riding a scooter come spring, as I’m not the best at making decisions. I tend to overthink everything these days and my subsequently overheated brain veers toward snap decisions when I’m stressed. But, I can’t do that as this may very well be my last car. As my cousin, Susan cautioned me, much like purchasing what will probably be one’s last place of residence, “don’t screw it up.”

Currently, I’m considering Toyotas, Hondas, Kias, Buicks, Subarus, Nissans, some Fords, some Chevys, and a friggin’ partridge in a pear tree.

At the time I bought my Fiat, it was between that car and a Mustang. Truth be told, I still got a yen for that ride, but I don’t want to appear ridiculous. I mean, what if people think I’m “too old” for a Ford Mustang? Or that I’m going through a “late-life crisis?”

Anyway, this whole car-buying process has me in a lather. Luckily, the sales guy at our local CarMax isn’t at all pushy and is very helpful. He gets it. In fact, he mentioned that the process isn’t like “buying a carton of milk.” It surely is not.

Side note: I was surprised to note that CD players are no longer a given in cars. When the heck did that happen? And what am I supposed to do with the hundreds of CDs I burned over the years? Of course, now there’s ApplePlay and a host of alternative features so that one can still enjoy one’s tunes.

So much to consider and sooner, rather than later, I need to decide upon a car make and model, at the very least. Thankfully, I don’t need to jump the gun because we have my hubby’s car but, knowing me, the longer I wait, the greater the possibility that I will, indeed, fuck this up. One thing I’m sure of: I’m going to pass on the Mustang.

How about you? What's your take on buying a car when there are so many bells and whistles to choose from? Are you the sort of person who immediately knows what you want and gets it? Or are you endlessly indecisive, like me? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL

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