Breaking Up With Your Old Car Is Hard To Do

I got a new car last month, and I'm not happy about it.

Don't get me wrong, I love my new car. It's a great car, it runs smoothly, the AC works, it has a nice stereo, and I don't have to worry about it exploding while I'm headed down the highway.

The exploding thing was the reason I needed to replace my last car just a couple weeks ago. I was driving on the highway the day after a monstrous cloud of white smoke belched from the tailpipe, when the car sputtered and threatened to die right there in a construction zone. A few seconds later, it sputtered back to life.

If I had been flying a plane, it was like I had stalled out and then recovered 1,000 feet from the ground.

I limped it back to my mechanic and he gave me the bad news: three of the four cylinders were shot, the head gasket was warped, and oil was leaking into my cooling system.

I purchased this car — a Kia Rio5 with manual transmission — back in 2008, and managed to grind out 242,968 miles before she finally gave up the ghost. I had hoped to reach 300,000, but her little heart couldn't take it anymore.

And that's why I'm not happy.

She was a great little car that could take everything I dished out. Despite her advanced age, I only replaced the fuel pump, water pump, and timing belt once. I replaced the tires five times, but I never had to replace the clutch.

Still, the steering wheel was chipping away, I had worn a hole through the driver's side floor mat, and the AC had a slow leak that took a year, emptying out around August.

I put every mile on that car myself, had driven it back and forth between Florida and Indiana several times, and knew every creak, clatter, and groan she made. I could tell as soon as I started it up whether something was off. I was as in tune with that car as a cowboy is with their horse.

So I was sad to let her go, but it was her time. I drove her to the dealership, feeling like the cowboy riding his horse to the glue factory, worried that she wouldn't last the journey.

When I got to the dealer, we talked about my trade-in and what value it would bring to the sale. Specifically, the sales manager said, "So, you're the guy trying to make me take that Kia?"

Make him? This was a wonderful car. We'd been through many an adventure together. He should be honored by my gift.

"Well. . . yes?" I said. Couldn't he put a price on "sentimental value?"

So he showed me what they were willing to offer me for the trade-in: $100.

"$100?" I said. "Aren't you missing a zero there?"

The look on his face said "zero" had been their original offer.

"But $100? Hell, I've got half a tank of gas in there!"

So he doubled it: "$200."

Eventually, we came to an agreement: I would leave the car there, and she would go live on a farm upstate, where she could run and play with the other cars.

And I drove home in a new Volkswagen — still a manual transmission — and have been amazed at all the new features this car had. I felt like a cowboy who traded in his horse for a horse with rockets for feet.

For one thing, my new car has electric windows and electric locks, something my Kia didn't have. I can't tell you how many times I've avoided yelling at people because it's hard to angrily hand crank your window down and still maintain your dignity.

The car also has a remote lock and alarm system. I like to press the button and hear the beep that tells me it's secure. Not like those times when I would try to deter thieves by pointing my key at my car and yelling "BEEP!"

It seems to have worked though because no one ever tried to steal it.

Best of all, the AC is strong enough to power a walk-in freezer. I can plug my phone into the USB slot and use voice commands to send messages or call people. And I can even operate a few apps on the touchscreen display, like TuneIn for music, MLB At Bat to listen to baseball, and even Waze for GPS.

Maybe I can use that to find my way to the big car farm upstate and visit my old car. I think she'd like that.

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finally available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version at or the paperback at