Monday, June 22, 2009

Buying a new car

Buying a car is a stressful experience (here and here for the story of my previous agonising over this) for me but that is exactly what I've just done. Here's the scoop on the ins and outs of it.

I first had to ask myself do we need a car at all? Not what sort of car but just any car. The answer is a yes and no. We could, of course, live without a car but it is a different sort of life we'd live. As my friend Jeremy says in his review of Car Sick,
"Unfortunately, we have structured our whole way of life around cars – to get to work, do the shopping, meet friends, or take children to school. Fifty years of motoring has radically re-ordered our towns and cities around the automobile, and it is hard to do without one even if you want to."
And that's what we found, hard to do and right now too hard for us. So while we could do without a car for many away from Shrewsbury trips, public transport in town is quite poor. Another friend, relayed to me how it would cost his wife and three kids £10 to make the short-ish 2.5 mile journey to the hospital by bus and return. In the end the sheer inconvenience and hassle of it told us we weren't ready for (or possibly not brave enough) a life without a car.

The second issue we had to grapple with was generosity. We'd been given money by various people (who having seen our old car took pity on us) and their gifts were for a replacement car. You honour the giver and the gift by using it as intended. God has blessed us with friends who love us, care for us and incredibly generous to us.

I have to say I've been hugely fortunate when it comes to transport. I've owned (including this new one) 6 cars and I've been given 4 of them. Every time I get into the car I drive I have reason to be thankful, grateful and humble.

Then, from generosity we needed to think as stewards. The 19 year old, 164000 mile Golf has been a great car. Worth every one of the £750 we paid for it more than 5 years ago. But at the same time we were given a substantial gift for a new car, our old one needed around £400 spending on it to get it through the next MOT. Was it good stewardship to sit on a gift and spend money on the old car? We thought not.

By now we've decided the right thing to do was to replace the old car but what with? Our criteria was something that would hopefully (barring the arrival of quads or quins) should see last our family some time. We wanted something economical, efficient, safe, reliable and within our budget. We weren't going to borrow for this.

So what did we get? A 2004 Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDi Elegance with 45000 miles on the clock. Diesel is better than petrol and it can (I think) run on bio-diesel which is something I'll definitely be researching. It it is economical, hopefully reliable, cheaper to tax and with less emissions than our old trusty Golf, should last us ages. It is also fun to drive and a bit more comfortable.

We're seeing how we can give the Golf to someone so it will be a blessing to them too.

What have I learnt? One that my car was a symbol of my simplicity, I worried that with a new car people would judge me as consumerist and someone who doesn't practice what he preaches. My old car was my way of showing how simply I lived. It did become a weird badge of honour. I've a long way to go to free myself of consumerism and its trappings but being a joyless moaner isn't the way to go.


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