This is our tank. Also known as “Old Faithful” and “Old Squeaky” depending on its mood. We bought it at the end of 2005 for one reason, and one reason only: to move us to New York. It served that purpose well, ran pretty steady for our stay there, and then moved our family, and a huge load of our stuff back.
Our Saturn VUE is going on 9 years old this year, and at just shy of 200,000km. Its spent more time on I-90 than any vehicle ever should, and despite our abuse, its rarely given us any trouble (there was that time where an animal crawled up the exhaust pipe and caused a fair bit of damage, but that wasn’t the car’s fault.)
We call it the tank because, even though we’ve never driven a tank, we imagine it would be similar to driving this SUV. It has virtually no comfort features. Anything you want it to do, you do manually — including changing gears, rolling down windows, adjusting mirrors… it has power steering, but the thing is so heavy that you don’t really notice.
Alas, aside from its constant squeaking (one, from a known problem with the suspension they used, and two because the steering wheel just squeaks all the time) and the occasional issue with the gas gauge or turn signals malfunctioning randomly, it shows no signs of kicking the bucket. For all we can tell, it’ll do another 200,000km with barely more than regular oil changes. Which is too bad, because we really want a new car.
We figure if we’re aggressive, we can finish paying it off in 8 months — a little shy of the original 5 year loan. What we’re not sure of, is if we can live with the tank that much longer. For one, the manual transmission is wreaking havoc on my back. I love driving standard, but it turns out that pumping the clutch puts my pelvis out of alignment and is causing all sorts of problems. We solve that by me never driving anywhere I don’t have to, and Nic doing most of the driving when we’re together.
That doesn’t solve the problem of us only really having one vehicle between the four of us. We actually have another, but its usually assigned to a very different purpose, and aside from the financial side of the equation, doesn’t really figure into our decision. The reality is that we can afford another car, if we need one. But is it a question of ego: not wanting to drive a squeaking 9 year old tank any more? Or is it a valid question of need: does our growing ministry and other responsibilities dictate the need for another set of wheels? What’s the most right thing to do with our money — not just for us, but for those God wants us to share it with?