Car Woes

So about a month or so ago I finally took my car in for some routine maintenance. Let me preface this by saying I drive and older car with a lot of rust underneath the surface. It’s my little baby tin box on wheels that will fall over in the wind if you blow on it hard enough.

So I took it in for a typical oil change, tire rotation, etc. and the 120,000 mile scheduled manufacture maintenance. I should have known better than to take it to the shop I did (they’re overpriced), but I wasn’t expecting to do much work to it. That was my first mistake. My car is like 16 years old, of course it’s going to need more work. When they came back to me with the list, there was additional axle and boot work, which on top of everything else, was almost $1900. My car is worth about $1000 on a good day and I’d be lucky to get $800 as a trade in. I decided against the additional work and doing only the bare minimum to keep it street legal both because of the upfront cost and because my car just isn’t worth the amount needed to put in it (admitting this to the shop was my second mistake).

Well, so they do the work and I’m out like $650. What infuriates me the most that not even 36 hours later, my check engine light turns on. I had just taken it in, there was absolutely no reason for it to turn on! We were going out of town the next day so I didn’t have the time to take it in and get it looked at again. And to be honest I still haven’t brought it in 2 months¬†later.

I feel like the shop scheduled the light to turn on not too long after leaving in order for me to come back in and do the work I originally decided against. That is so frustrating and dishonest it infuriates me. I am lucky to have an incredibly short commute so I don’t drive very far in my car and I do have AAA in case anything seriously bad happens but I’m at the point both emotionally and financially where I know I’ll need to get a new car soon. I’ve never had to choose my own car before so I’m not 100% sure what I want or should look for (I inherited this car). I know I want a hatchback with really good gas mileage (especially in local/mixed driving) and standard features like cruise control, power windows, mirrors, and locks, a rear windshield wiper, bluetooth/audio of some sort so I can play music and GPS etc., and a sunroof (though that I can live without but it would be nice to have one). I honestly don’t need much, except air conditioning (that’s a non-negotiable here in Florida). Got any recommendations internet?

Now the serious debate: leasing or buying? New or used? Stick with a smaller car or go a bit bigger? Brand? Additional features? Am I getting a good deal? Is it reasonably priced/can I afford it? Will the dealership even give me any money for my car? Especially with the check engine light on. Is it worth taking my old car to the dealership (or another shop) just to diagnose why the light came on to begin with (when it was never on previously)? The list goes on.

Help.

Shabbat shalom,

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