February 6, 2016

OPINION: Saying goodbye to a car a difficult process

Corbin H. Crable


I knew it was going to happen eventually.

Last weekend I walked out to my car after finishing a shift at one of my three jobs. Wanting to escape the sweltering heat – it felt like 95 degrees at 11 p.m. – I was looking forward to cranking up the AC in my car and getting home as quickly as possible.

Apparently, this night, that wasn’t in the cards. I turned my key in the ignition – and the simply got a low rumbling noise in response. The engine didn’t even turn over.

After trying to start the car multiple times and getting a failed jumpstart from a co-worker, I called a friend to come pick me up and take me home.
The next morning, I had the car towed to a mechanic, where my worst fears were realized: repairs to a broken timing belt would cost between $1,500 and $2,000, which is much more than the car is worth.

I have since made the painful decision to get another car. But, much like letting go of a dear friend or loved one, I’m just not ready to do it yet.
The only problem my 2002 Kia Spectra has had over the years is the occasional flat tire. Painted pepper red, I always marveled at how it glistened in the sun after a good washing. I know every comfortable nook and cranny in the automobile, and although it didn’t have the “get up and go” in recent years that it once did, it always served me well as I zipped to and from college, between states, between classes and between jobs and meetings. For all of the miles I put on my car over the years, it was quite a trooper, to say the least.

The realization that I would never drive my beloved car again came as I cleaned it out this week. Emptying it of its contents, the items I found were like a scattered, disorganized record of my time with the vehicle. There was the ice scraper that I bought in Nebraska right before a misstep on an icy highway sent me careening into a ditch during a snowstorm. There were pictures with friends, there were books I’d read, old newspapers and tools.

Yes, my car was messy, but it was mine.

And now it’s going to be someone else’s. I’ve decided to sell it to my boss, but

I feel odd putting a price on something that has been with me for the past eight and a half years.

I always thought I treated the car well – and, of course, it treated me well, too, but in the back of my mind, as each year passed, I found myself relieved that it had survived another Nebraska winter, or another sweltering summer. I kept thinking to myself, “I know this can’t go on forever. If I can just get one more year out of it before it breaks down, I’ll be satisfied.”

Well, that time has come, and I still feel like I’m going through the “bargaining” stage of the grieving process. If I can just fix it and drive it a bit longer, I’ll start looking for something else. Just give me one more year with my car.

But it’s time to move on to the “acceptance” stage of the grieving process and know that I received so many good years out of that vehicle. I certainly got my money’s worth. I just don’t want to let it go yet.

Much like someone who loses a pet, I know I’ll move on to my next vehicle and will grow to love it just as much as I’ve loved my old car – that is my hope, at least. But I also know that to allow my thoughts to linger on my old car is unhealthy, and that I must move on.

As I prepare to visit a car dealership today, I look forward to seeing what possibilities lie ahead for me. Which car will become my new, (hopefully) reliable mechanical companion? It’s an exciting thought.

Before I go, I think I’m going to sit in my old car one last time. After all, I have yet to say goodbye in person.


  1. Corbin: Let’s face it – you hate to see that car go because it is going to cost you money – hard earned, hard to come by money in today’s circumstances of you having to work 3 jobs to keep going. And how many people are doing that? Quite a few and some people would give a whole lot to have just one job. If you watched Dateline last night a 6:00 P.M., you would know how hard the times are for a lot of people – it reminded me of how fortunate I am and how I should give more to those in need.

    There are certain vehicles that you remember having and I am sure you will you remember your expereiences while you had that vehicle probably more than the vehicle itself. So, Corbin, as we all do, you adjust and do what you have to do – get another vehicle for transportation and figure out how you are going to pay for it – not an easy task right now. Just get your grateful book out and make a few entries into it about appreciating your good health, the three jobs you do have, happy you have your family and friends, etc., etc. And then you are off to do car shopping – do your homework first………………

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