Goodbye, Honda Civic

About 10 years ago I owned a truck. I liked that truck, but I treated it like a truck and it got poor gas mileage. So I decided to sell it and purchase something with more seats, better gas mileage, and overall increased reliability.

I combed Craigslist for quite a while looking for something in my price range that had low-ish miles and seemed to be in decent shape. Finally, one day I found it: a 2000 Honda Civic with 91,000 miles some nice guy was selling for his elderly father-in-law.

I planned to meet the guy at a local mall where he vaguely said he was working. He prepped me by saying he had other interested people and would only take cash. I arrived and walked inside the mall while calling him. He kind of laughed and said he was already outside. It seemed strange that he got outside so quickly. But I went out to the parking lot and found him.

While I looked the car over (I’d read some articles online so I thought I knew what to look for), he seemed to anxiously chat the entire time. When I discovered oil dripping under the engine, he kept talking and asking me what I was looking for. I literally wiped oil off my hands, told him I was looking for fluid leaks, and ignored it.

After taking the car for a quick test drive where he, again, distractedly spoke constantly, he told me he was just on a break and didn’t have much time so needed a decision on if I wanted to purchase it. I asked if I took it, if he’d be willing to take it back within 24 hours if I changed my mind. (I wanted to have my mechanic take a look, but he wouldn’t let me take it to him.) He said, “Oh sure,” with a smile I believed.

We made the deal. The price was so good I didn’t even try to talk him down. Then I immediately took it to my mechanic. His words to me: “John, this wasn’t an old man’s car.” My stomach sank.

He quickly pointed out various things that showed the car wasn’t all it had been presented to be. I felt like such a fool. I felt sad and disappointed. I’d done my homework, but still got scammed. Worse, upon further investigation from a friend who sold cars, the guy had rolled mileage back! It didn’t have 91,000 in truth; it had somewhere over 150,000! (And it was actually a 1999, not a 2000.)

Fortunately, overall the car was decent mechanically and still ran okay. So I had a choice: sell it and immediately take a loss (and have less money to buy something else) or keep it and drive it. I chose to keep it.

Despite the rocky origins of our ownership of the Honda Civic, we owned it and ran for about ten years. Paint was peeling off the hood, it dripped oil the entire time, but it ran pretty well and was low maintenance overall.

Recently it started dripping power steering fluid fairly aggressively (I started needing to refill it every two to four weeks). My mechanic said the fix would be about $1200, but the car probably wasn’t worth that so he recommended I just keep topping it off periodically until we figured out something different. That has seemed to work fine, but my driveway isn’t appreciating all the black spots from oil drips.

So now the Civic is gone. We got rid of it. I knew this day would come eventually. This car has served as a reminder of my poor decision for years. Yet somehow it has simultaneously become a badge of honor. I feel sad to let the Civic go. Hijo felt sad as well. From Hijo and I, goodbye, Civc.

It’s strange that somehow something that has been a pain, inconvenience, and embarrassment for years also became familiar and comfortable. Honestly, the Civic turned out to be a better choice than I initially thought, but I still could have chosen better.

I wonder what God thought about my choice. If he warned me, I sure wasn’t listening. Perhaps he just allowed me to forge ahead and learn some lessons. I sometimes do that with Hijo. I wonder what lessons may be happening in my life right now that are similar. What lessons like that may be happening in your own life?

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