More than an oil change
I got caught in a weak moment.
It was two weeks ago Tuesday and I was dropping off my faithful, reliable 2016 Toyota Corolla for an oil change. A salesman approached and asked if I was ready to trade her in.
No, not really. She’d never given me a second of trouble except for needing a new battery just a couple weeks before. I had been obsessive about getting the oil changed every three months, regardless of mileage. Speaking of mileage, she’d just hit 86,000 — before I bought her in 2018 she’d put in 50,000 miles as a rental out of the Phoenix airport.
Knowing Toyota’s reputation for reliability and longevity, I fully expected the Corolla to be around longer than I will.
Still, I threw a few numbers at the salesman: how much I still owed, how much I’d need on a trade-in, what kind of monthly payments I could afford.
Not surprisingly, he had just the right deal: a brand-new 2020 Ford Fusion. It’s an attractive car, longer than the Corolla and featuring all kinds of cool technology. Plus, it had been driven all of 12 miles.
It was too tempting for me to turn down. So I signed off on the deal, then moved all my stuff (so much stuff!) from the Corolla to the Fusion and said my goodbyes to the little car.
Knowing how little I drive these days — I live five minutes from the office — I figure the Fusion will last me 10 or 12 years at a minimum.
I can’t believe all the gadgetry that comes with the new car— even though it is the bare-minimum base model. I start it by pushing a button and shift gears by turning a dial the way we used to change TV channels before remote controls were a thing.
Speaking of remote controls, I can start this car with my phone. I can even schedule it to start at a specific time each day.
My headlights turn on automatically, and the bright lights go on and off all on their own. If someone is in my blind spot in the next lane, a light on my mirror flashes. And if I get too close to another vehicle, a red light flashes on the windshield and the car starts beeping loudly.
Cars have come a long way in the last 50 years. My first car was a 1974 Dodge Dart that was 12 or 13 years old when I got it. It didn’t have automatic headlights or push-button start or any of that fancy tech. In fact, I was quite pleased when I was able to upgrade by adding an 8-track tape player.
I remember driving from college in Conway to my parents’ home south of Little Rock — about an hour’s drive — when the windshield wipers stopped working. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining too hard, so I simply pulled off the road every five minutes or so and wiped off the windshield with an old rag.
Still, I got from Point A to Point B.
I’ve owned a lot of cars over the years. Probably my favorite was a 2008 Chevy Impala. It rode so smoothly and had so much power that I could easily be driving 85 or 90 mph without realizing I was over the speed limit. After three speeding tickets in six months, I became well-acquainted with cruise control.
The new car doesn’t have that kind of zip, but it does everything I need it to do and gets me where I need to go. Hopefully, it will be around for a long time.