Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Used Cars and Shiny Suits

Buy a used car as a single woman? I think I’d rather go skydiving.

That moment when something goes wrong with your car, whether it is a complete breakdown on the motorway or a funny knocking sound coming from the engine area, you know it’s going to be a pain, and you know it’s going to be expensive.

Recently my car has been making more weird noises, things that are supposed to open don’t and intermittently where there should be a digital dashboard there is only darkness. The dilemma – do I fix the things that are wrong or do I cut and run, part exchange it whilst the faults are still relatively minor?

My car is a family wagon, 7 seats of fun with all the cubby holes, cup holders, tray tables, high road tax, massive petrol bill and poor manoeuvrability your average family could want. (ok so that last one is more about the driver, but it’s big and hard to park) It made sense when we were a family of four plus dog. Now we are a family of three it doesn’t seem to fit with us anymore. This could be down to its size but I suspect it has more to do with the fact the Ex chose it.

So decision one made, the beast has to go. Decision two, what to replace it with? As images of slimy car sales men, dodgy back street ‘Eastender style’ garages and trawling Autotrader flash through my mind I start to feel a bit perturbed. Being a single woman the chances of being ripped off seem inordinately high. I could ask my Dad to come with me, I know he would but he is so busy I would feel guilty. I could ask the man in my life but as I don’t think we are at the ‘car shopping’ stage that’s a no. I could ask my brother, but as he is currently a 40 hour and four plane journey away, this is not a viable option either. I guess it’s just me then.

Bull-by-the-horns style I set off to look at used cars. My criteria: 5 doors, room for the pushchair and shopping, cheap road tax and must look pretty. Now scoff at the last one if you will, but I want something I like after driving round for two years in the ugly monstrosity the Ex’s kindly picked for me. A few helpful sales men later and I see it. Shimmering red, cute and slightly under my budget, it meets all the requirements. A test drive later and I’m sold so the Sales Manager and I set about the merry dance that is negotiation.

He is wearing a shiny suit I can only assume he bought from Car Sales Men R’Us, informing me of how much he has spent on new tyres and the extra warranty. I look disappointed at the amount he offers for my car, he points out the dent in the back bumper (don’t know when I did that) and the fact he is offering 12 months tax. We finally meet in the middle, but something stops me from signing on the dotted line. I tell the shiny suit I’ll think it over and get back to him.

Prudence is no bad thing but this is more that that, this is indecision. Something is bothering me that I can’t put my finger on. A cup of tea and half an hour of chewing my mum’s ear off about the pros and cons of it all and I realise what it is. It’s not the car or the deal, it’s me. The responsibility of making all the decisions for our family can be a heavy burden. Everything from what we eat, to where we live is down to me. It can be great, there is no compromise but there is also no support and reassurance of the eventual choice.  Whilst I am not walking my life’s path alone, the two little hands that hold mine look to me for guidance. It can be daunting but I have to trust my own judgment, accept that I won’t always get it right and forgive myself the mistakes I make.

Driving my shiny new car home I feel a bit of pride at the deal I negotiated.  It’s another miles stone (no pun intended) in my single life. Another thing I have proved to myself I can do. Now fingers crossed everyone I haven’t just bought a lemon.

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