Late Friday afternoon I go out and jump in my car, heading to the bank because I’m not very good at using internet banking. I started my car, letting it idle while I brushed off the snow off the windows. Approximately 30 seconds later, the engine started to hiss, the car started to shudder, and it promptly died. I swore a couple of times and kicked my tire for good measure. That’ll show my car.

I drive a 2002 Ford Focus. According to Google, the engine flooding when it’s cold is a very common problem, with half a dozen websites offering a half a dozen fixes. I’ve taken it to the shop a couple of times, each time having them tell me they can’t figure out what the problem is. They stick it in the heated shop, the flooded gas evaporates, it starts just fine, they charge me $150 bucks. Maybe I need to stop taking it to the Ford dealership.

This happens once or twice a winter, and it’s really starting to get to me. Twice a year my car is having some sort of giant issue that requires me to borrow a car for a week. As far as I’m concerned, that’s unacceptable. I’m okay with doing normal repairs, I’m okay with paying to change the oil or the tires- stuff you’d have to do with every car. I’m not okay with going out during the winter and being stranded because it’s too cold for my wuss car.

I currently have $5k in my car replacement fund. I’ve neglected this fund a little, instead focusing on pouring my excess cash into other investments. I can quite easily put $1k a month into my car fund, getting it up to $15k by the end of October. I could get a decent used car (or a basic new one, but I’m not too excited about buying new) for that much.

My other option is to wait until I find a car that is approximately 10 years old, with very few kilometers on it, driven by an older person who hardly ever left town with it. I could get the car for $5-7k, hopefully getting a car that isn’t a few months away from major repairs. If my car is worth $3k, that would make my cost $2-4k once I sell my car. I could put a lot of money in an older car before it even gets close to the cost of a newer one.

I don’t really care what kind of car I drive. I want something I like and something that’s reliable. I want to step out of my house, turn the key, and go. Well that, and a remote starter. If you lived where I do, you’d want a remote starter too.

I do like the idea of driving something relatively new. I understand that it’s a horrible thing to buy, but I’m willing to pay a premium for not having to worry about repairs. Since I know so little about cars, I have to ask all sorts of questions about any sort of repair. I take it to the shop, and since the repairs are usually relatively minor, I just tell them to do it. If the repair is more major I thank them for the diagnostic, and get a backyard mechanic to do the actual work. This system has worked relatively well for me, I’d just rather not bother.

Readers, what is your experience with cars? Do you drive something pretty new or an old beater?

Tell everyone, yo!