Shopping For A New Car When You Don’t Need A New Car

I’ve been driving for 55 years, and I’ve owned just six cars. I’ve always liked to buy new, then run them into the ground. The vehicle I have now is five and a half years old and has only 37,000 miles. In fact, it’s aging better than I am. So why am I looking for a new car?

Technology. Things are moving so fast, I feel I need a new game plan. My previous transport was very nice (an Infiniti!) and I kept it for ten years and over 100,000 miles. When it was needing so many repairs it seemed like a rebuild, I decided to go shopping again.

Since I’m philosophically opposed to spending more on a car than I did on my first house, I lowered my sights a notch or two. What I found after a decade bordered on an epiphany. A key fob, backup camera, running lights, tire-pressure monitoring, voice commands, and a workable navigation system were all included in a reasonably priced sedan. I had dropped down on the luxury scale, but felt I now had a better car. Isn’t technology marvelous?

And here we go again. This time I’m finding innovations like blind-spot detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-change assist… my current car has none of this. And then there is this aging thing. Not the car, me. I’ve decided the safest strategy is to begin transferring as much of the work as possible to the car.

So where do we go from here? That’s my other modification — since the new features are coming so fast, I think I’ll lease this time for three years. There’s no telling what we will have then. Maybe my next vehicle will drive itself. Which will be really good because by that time I may not be able to drive anyway.

There is one feature from the past that I miss. My third car, in the 1980s, had a sophisticated monitoring display, including voice warning (“Fuel level is low!”). I loved that car — it had a personality. But I guess I was the only one, because voice warning didn’t last very long. Now the condition monitoring is done internally, accessible by a technician (or maybe you if you pay extra). All the driver sees is a warning light, which leads to a frantic reading of the manual. If my car has a problem, I would prefer it tell me directly (“Right door is open!”). No secrets, please.

That’s what I would like to see next.

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