The time has come. My 20-year-old car is getting to the point where I need to consider replacing it with a more dependable model.

I had been holding off on seriously looking for a new car even with the limitations of the present one. My idea was, as long as it gets me where I want to go, why spend money on another one? So what if it takes on water like a sinking ship? I can bail it out and put towels down to sop up what’s left. I’ve done that for several years.

Now that I can work from home, it’s not quite as big a concern, except that when the temperature is below freezing, I still have to drive with my feet on a sheet of ice.

There’s also the lack of air conditioning in the summer and only minimal heat in the winter. I discovered a little while back that the minimal heat has gotten even more minimal now. That’s OK. I can bundle up and handle it.

And then there was the broken headlight that needed replacing, plus the other one was all cloudy and needed replacing, too. As I waited for my son to be off work long enough to play mechanic, I tried not to be out after dark or in very overcast weather because I figured I’d be hard to see. When I got caught out later than anticipated last weekend, I also found that I could barely see to drive the back roads to my house. Thank goodness, my son was able to take care of the headlight situation the next day.

A few other things have been happening, too. The turn signal switch had to be replaced recently. The door lock has receded into the door itself. But it still works! The latest is when the mirror on the driver’s side decided to fly away. I had noticed it quivering as I drove to town one day and vaguely wondered why. Found out as soon as I parked. It slid off and broke into a dozen pieces in the parking lot. I just had to shake my head and laugh as I picked up the debris. My son came to the rescue again. He found a mirror and glued it on, and even though it’s not the same shape, it works.

I was talking about all this with a friend the other day who has urged me to replace the old girl ever since he found out about the lack of air conditioning last summer. He reminded me that a 20-year-old car is going to keep having problems until something more serious than a turn signal switch goes out. I know he’s right, and admitted it. He said, “Have you looked online to see what’s available?”

“No. Not yet.”

“Do you have an idea of what you want?”

“Yes, I can’t remember exactly what it is, but it starts with an ‘A.’ An Altima, maybe? Is that a Buick?”

Silence. Then he says, slowly, “You don’t know what it is, but it starts with an ‘A.’”


Next thing I knew, he was laughing so hard, he couldn’t choke out any more words for a little while. Now, I’m pretty clueless at all this car stuff, but when he caught his breath, he explained why he was so amused. My reply, “Well, at least I didn’t say I wanted a blue one.”

It all made perfect sense to me.

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at

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