Opinion

What Was The First Car Lesson You Learned The Hard Way?

Illustration for article titled What Was The First Car Lesson You Learned The Hard Way?

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In a perfect world, we would all learn our life lessons gradually and with grace — but that is generally not the way things work, especially when you slap a bunch of folks behind the wheel of expensive, fast machines and tell ‘em to go. So, I want to know what car-related lessons you were forced to learn the hard way.

From the very beginning of my childhood, I’ve learned the hard way just what a compromise you can be making when you buy a cheap vehicle. Just about everybody in my family was all about the thrift. The less money spent, the better — and that translated to the vehicles we owned.

So, we’d end up buying incredibly cheap cars and opting for the cheapest possible repairs when they broke, which meant we usually always had one car in the shop or one that was absolute hell to drive. I can distinctly recall receiving many a dirty look the first time I asked why we were trying to buy another cheaper car when we’d end up spending new car money getting it fixed.

It sucked. There were a lot of times where we’d have to cancel plans at the last minute because the car we were going to use broke down and my mom needed the other one to go to work and also wasn’t sure it would make it there. Then, I’d look at my grandparents, who usually bought new and could keep that vehicle on the road for ages. We were buying cheap out of necessity, but it always sucked knowing that we’d be strapped for cash buying this used car and would continue to be strapped for cash every time it needed to be repaired.

I suppose my example is more economic than anything else, but it’s still an automotive lesson I hold onto today. I bought my Mazda 2 used, but it was fairly pricey because it was in great shape. I’ve had it for eight years and have probably only spent a few hundred dollars in maintenance and repairs. My brother, on the other hand, has bought four different vehicles in that same span of time, each of which were initially thrifty buys but that then required so much work he’d either have to spend a lot of money and time taking care of the repairs, or he’d have to buy a whole different vehicle. In his case, he usually combined the two, buying a different car to drive while he pieced together repairs on his previous vehicle.

I want to know what your hard lessons have been. Were they repair-related? Did you buy from a sketchy seller? Was it something you learned while you were driving? Share ‘em in the comments.


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