Back in 2000, the Dodge Aries I drove at the time began to have suspension problems which would cost far more to fix than was practical. With a need to get to work, I found a 1979 Ford LTD III on the local market for $500, and got to enjoy driving a tank for a while. However, the idea of me driving a 20-year-old Ford appalled my father so much that he convinced me to let him help me buy my first new car ever, a 2001 Hyundai Elantra.
I got 12 lovely years of service out of that car. It's taken me to destinations ranging from New York to Charlotte, played nice on gas, had exactly enough room for my daily needs, and fit my driving style nicely. But over the decade-plus of travel, it clocked 175,000 miles, and this last weekend it had had enough. While on the highway, the engine developed a sudden catastrophic oil leak, and the engine tore itself apart before I could do anything.
Saturday afternoon, I sold the Elantra for a couple hundred dollars of scrap value. What else was I going to do, four hours from home? I found it difficult to let it go, I had to not think about it too much while cleaning out all the stuff I'd left in it over the years. But I'm driving a replacement already, a red Hyundai of the same model that my mom no longer needs, and it only has 40,000 miles on it. And I have to say, on today's drive to work I couldn't help but notice the much smoother, cleaner ride. It's true, there were a lot of things that needed fixing on the old Hyundai, some higher-priority than others:
* Short in wiring harness made fuel pump shut off on occasion
* Faint smell of fuel when tank was completely full
* Pothole bent front axle slightly, car never completely in alignment again
* CV joints on front axle wearing out
* Transmission liked to drop randomly into third gear and stay there until car restarted
* Dashboard clock flickered on and off
* CD player failed, liked to interrupt radio with error beeps
* Cosmetic body damage on left rear door, right rear bumper, hood
* Key fob would remotely unlock car, but not lock it
So maybe it was just the green Hyundai's time. On top of everything else, the license tags needed renewing. I certainly can't complain about how it held up to the years and the mileage. Still, that car was a companion, and it feels like a chapter has come to a close.