So You Think You Can Ride In My Car??

Photo credit: chintermeyer via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Last fall, almost a year ago to the day, Justin and I had to go car shopping. My car was, according to my boss, dead to her.

It made sense, really. My car had given me problems three times in two weeks; of course it was either me or the car on the chopping block.

Practically sobbing (or at least considering it), my husband and I walked into Suntrust Bank and applied for a car loan.

"How much is the car you are looking at?" the man at the desk asked.

"Uh…" Justin and I looked at each other. We hadn't seen a single car yet. We didn't know what our budget was (although we had an idea) and frankly, I simply didn't want to go car shopping. We were close to having our credit cards completely paid off and our next focus would be student loans. All of the student loans (which, of course, we were already diligently making extra payments to). We didn't need a car loan on top of all that!

We came up with a number that the Suntrust guy plugged in. He told us that we would know something by Monday which was code for "you were denied". Frustrated and confused, we walked away.

Our only remaining option was to go through the car dealership once we found a car we liked.

And we did. And they gave us credit. At a very good rate.

But the point of this story is not how much Suntrust sucks. (And it does.) The point is: I didn't want to spend money. I didn't want a loan. I didn't actually want a new car. But if I didn't get one and had another car problem, I'd lose my job. So decisions had to be made and money had to be spent. I didn't have a choice. #FirstWorldProblems?

We bought a used 2014 Mazda 6 with 15,000 miles (and leather, powered seats!) for the same price as the dealership was selling a 30,000 mile more beat up version of the same car. Good deal? Decide for yourself. For me, it was a solution to a problem. It meant more debt, but it also meant I could keep my job. Can you really put a price on keeping your job? (I'm sure you can, but that's not an issue for today's post.)

I won't even tell you how much hot tea was consumed before my first day back at work. I had to control my nerves as I drove a new-to-me car that wasn't yet paid off at highway speeds.

With all of that (the money spent, my anxiety about driving the car) in mind, I wanted to keep the vehicle in as good of condition as possible for as long as possible, so I created a few rules. :)

Photo credit: Mike Hiran Photography via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

1. No food or drink in the car. Ever. Unless I say it's ok.

Long seven hour drives to Myrtle Beach that begin at 6pm at night? Ok, Starbucks coffee is fine. For the driver. Just don't keep me up when we get to the hotel! And I will have your head if you spill it!

Picking up food to bring home? Okay… but no eating in the car! And maybe if we put the food in the trunk my car won't actually smell like the food. Plus, we can leave the windows open in the garage and let the car air out overnight. :)

2. Don't put your feet on the back of the driver's or passenger's seats!

This isn't such a big deal for grown-up backseaters, but kids seem to love doing this. I always end up with mud everywhere. *sigh* And the more I remind them, the more they forget. I swear they just want to drive me insane. And this is when I tell their mom, "you are why I can't have nice things!" ;)

3. If driving my car, don't follow other vehicles too closely.

I don't like the idea of pebbles being knocked up and into my windshield. And what happens if the other driver comes to a stop very quickly and you don't respond as fast? NO.

4. Brake nicely.

The harder you brake, the easier and faster the car brakes wear. I like it when my brakes stop just by barely touching them. Have a soft foot and I will like you (the driver) much better! (And perhaps allow you to drive my vehicle again at another time. But don't count on it!)

5. My car must be waxed with black wax.

It's a black car and shows absolutely everything! I was so frustrated and humiliated to already see knicks on my beautiful, brand-new (to me) car. Luckily, black wax fixes all of the problems. Yay!

6. Going to the beach? Car must be washed immediately upon returning!

Rust for the no!

7. Not so much a rule, but my father found plastic mats to put over the backseat carpet mats. The idea being that the plastic would help me keep the carpet clean longer and prevent any nasty stains from kids shoes setting in. Unfortunately, the plastic mats are a bit too small and move around enabling the kids to place their nasty shoes on my clean carpet. See #2.

8. I also temporarily considered putting a sheet over my backseat. You should try getting sunscreen out of leather. 😳

9. As another preventative measure, I bought seat gap fillers to fit in between the front seats and console. I was hopeful that we would keep any debris from falling between the seats and getting lost in the car abyss. Plus, I dropped one too many things between the seat and console in the first week I had the car and got aggravated; in some cars it is easy to find lost items, but this car is not one of those.

10. And to get my list to number 10, my husband adds "No peach milkshakes from Chick-fil-A. EVER."

In our last car, literally every time we ever got a peach milkshake, it spilled. In the car. EVERY TIME. We could be as careful as ever and it would still find a way of toppling over. Or the cup would break. Or something.
So, no peach milkshakes. EVER.

Have you ever been really particular about something new you've bought? A new car, a new sweater, a new phone, or anything else? Have you ever tried desperately to save your new item from mishaps only to have those mishaps find whatever it is you are trying to protect? Share! I'd love to hear!

And if you're up for it, join in and create your own list for #TopTenThursday! Then link-up at Tamara Gerber's (Confessions of a Part Time Mom). She posts a new challenge every week. Try it; you might like it! :)

* I'm participating in Susannah Conway's August Break. Today's post was written with the word "peaceful" in mind (day 25). In other words, break my rules, and I will not be at peace with you! :)

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