Goodbye Dear Car of Mine

I'm having a hard time emotionally right now. Confused. Anxious. Stressed. Sad. Shame. Hopeless. And lots more to boot.

Last week I was driving home from an outing along a highway, and about a 30 minute drive from my house the car started making some noise. 5 minutes later I realized that I couldn't go as fast as the speed limit- the car started making strange noises and the RPM went up really high when I tried going above 80 kmh. Then I couldn't go faster than 70. Then I couldn't go faster than 60. I was on a stretch of road that really wasn't safe to break down on, and I knew that there was a town about 5 kilometers away. I prayed that we'd be able to at least make it there before we couldn't drive anymore.

We finally got to the entrance of the town, and after I stopped at the traffic light to turn into the town, I couldn't get the car to move forward. I stepped off the brakes and the car started rolling backward, downhill, even with my foot on the gas. I parked and put on my hazards and tried to call emergency roadside service, and they told me that based on what I told them, there was no point in calling a volunteer to come help since there was nothing they could do, and I'd just need to call a tow truck. I had my passenger get out of the car and get help to push the car out of the middle of the road and into the town limits. My son and 2 other guys pushed the car while it was in neutral, and I was able to drive it into the town and park it at the side of the road.

Since I was a first time car owner, I didn't know what to do, but I remembered being told that my insurance should cover towing, so I found the right email with information and called the towing company. It was about 5:45 pm. They said it would take up to 4 hours for a tow truck to arrive. I sent home my son and my other passengers by bus and waited for the tow truck to arrive, and at a quarter to ten the tow truck finally arrived.

The morning after, my mechanic called me up. As I suspected, it was the engine. In a car that age, the engine is not worth replacing. Which means I have no car. He said he could try to sell it for parts, but because of its age, I wouldn't get more than a few hundred dollars. At least he was willing to refund me the money I paid for a new battery literally 3 weeks ago.

I rented a car and my son and I drove to the garage to empty the car of all our things in it before the car was taken for parts, and now a lot of those things are waiting for a new home now that I don't have a car. 

For the past week or so I've been without a car again and it sucks. I've gotten used to the car and it made my life easier in so many ways. 

I went grocery shopping assuming there was delivery (there used to be back when I took buses in 2022 and before) and with my full cart, I learned there were no deliveries and it was too much stuff to carry on a bus, even without my back issues, and I had to rely on the kindness of a neighbor who drove to pick me and my groceries up from the store. 

I'd forgotten how absolutely exhausted taking the bus made me so now I'm dealing with even worse exhaustion from my appointments in the city a few times a week. 

The car meant I was able to have air conditioning and not need to suffer from the heat (I have a big problem with heat and even run the air conditioning in the winter in my house). 

When I rented a car to pick up my things from the car I ran into a lot of technical problems as a repercussion of my divorce proceeding complications (too much and not appropriate to write here) so suffice it to say it's not an easy option. I also ended up in a lot of pain because of the type of seat in the car (my minivan didn't injure me and my back) but fortunately friends gave me solutions to hopefully make those hurt less.

So now I'm in the market for a car, again, and searching for a new car is just another headache I have to deal with, while I'm already dealing with exhaustion from health issues, more exhaustion from bus taking, and the stress of parenting as a single mom of 4 kids, some of which are quite challenging, my other health issues, financial things, divorce things, and my mental health issues. I often want to just give up on my car search because it is just so hard to find a car that meets my family's needs within my budget (and I'm glad I have that budget, thanks to a kind family member) that won't be a total dud and die after a few months like this did. But then I try to remind myself that a car will help at least some of those things contributing to my exhaustion and overwhelm so I need to somehow find the energy.

Talking to my kids and seeing how the car we had worked for us, I realized that we need a car with at least 6 or 7 seats, that my kids need their space in the car because of their sensory needs, and that their fighting in the car if they didn't get that, would cause us danger on the road. My kids said they would be willing to wait longer to get a car that was more comfortable for them than rushing to get a car that wouldn't be as good. So I'm taking my time and just looking at cars every few days so it's not too overwhelming.

Part of this stress about getting a car is my guilt that maybe the fact that the car died only 6 months after I bought it is my fault because I did something wrong, that I'm irresponsible, a loser, etc... Yes, my mental health issues are rising up big right now. Shame and self blame is one of my biggest issues... But I'm trying to remind myself (and fortunately people are reminding me of that as well) that I did everything right when buying the car. I did my due diligence, I got the right type of car for my family, and I got it checked out by a good mechanic before buying, but sometimes bad things happen, and it sucks, but that doesn't make it my fault. The one thing that I might have been able to do better was that the car I'd had had had (yes that is proper grammar) a natural gas system installed in the past to save money on fuel, but it was already unhooked for the last few years, at the very least, and I didn't know how long it actually was in use. My mechanic said that such systems save money in the short term since natural gas (at least locally) is cheaper than gasoline, but in the long run it makes you lose money since the engine lasts less time. He said there was no way of knowing what damage it might have done to the engine. But I am assuming that that was why the engine conked out, when that type of car should have had the engine last for longer. 

So now I'm looking for a car and I'm running all the options I'm considering past my mechanic. He's a wonderful and helpful guy and has helped me with knowing what cars to not look at. For example, it doesn't matter how good a car sounds or what the owners say, if the owner is selling it after less than a year, there's a problem with the car that they are hiding. He's also asked me what city the cars are from, because some locations are more mountainous and put more strain on a car and it would shorten its life. Things like that. Fortunately he's steered me away from potential bad choices. And now I know that any car that advertises that it has a "natural gas tank" as a "perk" as a way to save money on gas- I stay far away from those.

How soon will I have a new car? I don't know. I will see what I can do, and somehow I'll manage until then, the same way I managed the past 17 years of my adulthood...

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. So sorry to hear this. I hope the situation improves soon for you and you find a real and honest bargain.

  2. i have an out-of-the-box idea that involves change the way of thinking about your required number of seats... here in our (same as your) country, minivans are very expensive, and used ones in your price range may not be in the best shape. many families use small cars as best they can, even when it means not everyone fits (i.e. i have a 5-seater for my family of 6, and find it cheaper to rent a minivan if we need to travel as a family, albeit off-season is cheaper to rent). If you change slightly the way you view the car, and even perhaps explain to your kids that it is for your personal use for errands, etc. then everyone may appreciate slightly more that they can actually fit in a 5-seater car. The huge benefit is you can get a newer, more reliable car in your budget - there are a lot of great used compact cars here, that would open you up to many more options. And with the savings you can rent a minivan a few times of year for longer trips. Good luck!

  3. Losing a car stinks, especially when there are health issues. I am praying you'll find a suitable vehicle!

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