Call Me Crazy

Our writer sticks with her crossover, gas prices be damned.

By Candice Hightower Taylor

08.01.2008

Call me crazy, but Devin and I are not breaking up. When I signed that piece of paper, I committed to hang in there for better or worse, in sickness and in health and everything in between, including the owner’s manual that recommended a strict diet of premium gasoline. Devin is my darling midsize crossover SUV. She’s my baby and I take care of her by the book. Period. Oil changes every five months or 5,000 miles, tire rotation every other oil change, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided to put new wipers on her.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had our share of mishaps like everyone else: a pothole that devoured a rear tire, a headlight and rear view camera that quit and a CD player that wanted to permanently ingest that sixth CD. No relationship comes free of bumps in the road, so I still make sure she’s clean inside and out and I even treat her to those not-so-overbearing air fresheners when she’s had a hard day at the dealership’s service center. So why would I let our $60 fill up experience at the pump be a deal breaker? She’s my girl, my roadie and even more than that it just doesn’t make sense.

If you are in the market for an SUV, it’s a great time to buy, but really try holding your horses before trading in your guzzler for the Festiva of your dreams. I dare you to take your soccer mommer to a dealership and try to unload her. Trade-in and resale values for SUVs are low, which means chances are high that what you owe on your baby is a far cry what you can trade or sell it for. Gas prices have made SUVs hot potatoes – no one’s buying and no one’s selling. Drive past your local car dealerships and the lots are full of SUVs, but even with prices slashed, it seems they have very few takers. I can understand this point of view, but I just don’t think I’m ready for that sans-sport utility lifestyle. No Devin would mean no cargo space to buy in bulk, no option to spontaneously buy a chair from a discount shop, and no possibility of hiding unauthorized purchases from a loved one. Bottom line, separating from your SUV can hit you hard in the pocket book and if you’re like me, it will get you right in the heart.

We’re two years into our relationship, and Devin is worth more to me than any dealership would give me, those crazy MPGs and sadly, the sacrificial manicure, pedicure and handbag. I can mani and pedi myself and even hold off on that new arm candy until the big semi-annual department store sale, but I never thought I would stand behind this ridiculous saying: “It’s cheaper to keep her.” And surprisingly, I truly mean it. By all means it’s better to stick it out and love it, even when she’s due for new brakes and has a whistling catalytic converter. I can easily imagine 20 better ways to spend that $60 per week, but if I can make this work, anyone can. I may depend on my navigation system more than the average Betty, but I’m a generation X-er and I know how to tough things out. Remember when the tech bubble went pop? Devin and I are together for richer or poorer. She’s given me everything I’ve asked for, so giving her $60 worth of premium per week seems like a pretty reasonable trade.

Take It From Me: Before you shell out hundreds to get your catalytic converter fixed, check your manufacturer’s warranty to see if it’s covered. Know your warranty, take it to the dealership and save some cash.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m in agreement. Cars –listen up, eco-nazis– are amazingly flexible devices. They can take you to work and back, to the movies, to the mall, to wherever you want to go when you want to go. When done right, cars even deliver pleasure and thrills.

    Mass transit seriously pales by comparison, and there’s that nasty cargo capacity problem (you’ve only got two hands… that’s right, you can squeeze it between your legs). You are your own schedule maker –not that the buses in my town even bother to adhere to the schedule– and you don’t have to worry about the homeless who use bus stops as makeshift shelters.

    David Pogue of the NY Times put the cost of gas in context. He calculated the cost of other fluids like bottled water, wite-out fluid and printer ink and, guess what, even at $4.00 gas is an amazing bargain for what it delivers. Its per ounce cost is among the lowest, too. Funny how no one complains when shelling out (shell, get it?) $20 for an ink cartridge that contains at best a couple ounces.

    I think we’re just a nation of spoiled whiners.

  2. If you don’t mind paying for the gasoline, as far as I’m concerned, go nuts.

  3. Now we have the new perjorative, the “eco-nazi”. I know a lot of people that care a lot more about the environment lately, but they’re hardly strident in their new concern. It seems like eco-nazi is one of those labels that doesn’t have much basis in actual fact.

  4. Just bought a new Buick Enclave because it is the vehicle that meets my needs. I have four children, all of them active in sports and all of them with friends that want to come along when we go and do something. My wife would get not anything smaller and I didn’t want anything smalller, to tell you the truth. We’ll just have to tough it out with the gasoline prices. Fortunately I have a Golf TDI that’s been paid for sometime ago with 163,000 miles that gets a reliable 48 mpg still that I use for my long commute.

  5. I find it interesting that you refer to your car as a “she” because it seems most guys name their cars female names and most women name their cars male names, when they (men and women) name them at all. At least that’s been my experience. Course, it could be that my life experience is not reflective of the world at large, but that’s been my experience.

  6. As per your instructions: You’re crazy.

    You’re welcome.

  7. I’m keeping my Ford Expedition, my FULL-SIZE SUV. It’s not worth anything anymore even though it runs perfectly and everything on it works great with 83,000 miles on the clock. So, I’ll get a car that gets good mileage and keep the Expedition for whenever I need something that big. It’s worth a lot at those moments but as a used vehicle in the used car market, it has just about zero value.

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