That new car smell

Rick Ryckeley

After almost 13 years and over a quarter of a million miles, The Wife said it was finally time. It was time to visit our local dealership and start the arduous task of haggling over the new car price.

Except things have changed in the last 12 years. Before stepping foot into the showroom, we shopped online for the make, model, rebates, extra comfort features and lowest possible price.

But after doing weeks of research then visiting the dealership for a test drive, even I was shocked how little we would receive for our trade-in and eventually how much we were going to have to pay for that new car smell.

The salesperson who had our old car inspected frowned and said, “As a trade-in, we can give you a thousand dollars.” She must’ve noticed my shocked expression at the low amount because she quickly added, “Don’t take it personally. That’s just all it is worth.”

She couldn’t be more wrong. Our car is worth so much more. It’s a vital part of our family. What price can you place on something that has safely transported our two granddaughters from birth to doctor visits and taken us on countless trips to dance classes, gymnastics, swim lessons, summer art camps, par core, and vacations to the beach and Chattanooga?

Our beloved car has served us faithfully and well. Simply put, it’s part of the family. And when family members get old and broken down, you don’t just kick them to the curb. You pay whatever it costs to get them back up and running. Again, it’s not just a car. It’s family.

For the first six years, the repairs were few and far between, but as the mileage increased so did the repair visits. Through the replacement of belts, heater coil, oil pan cover, and last year, the transmission, our car keeps running. Never once has it broken down and left us stranded on the side of the road.

So we decided to hold off on the new car for one more year. Instead we would take our old one to the local car wash, get it detailed, and have them spray a “new car” deodorant on the inside. Total cost for that new car smell: $35.

Leaving the dealership, I eased into the driver’s seat of our old friend and headed home — happy that we would still be together for another year. The Wife must’ve seen the relief on my face and said, “Not ready to get rid of the car, are you?”

“No,” I replied. “Just because something is old and broken down, you just don’t kick it to the curb or trade it in for a newer model. It can always get fixed.”

Smiling she reached over to rub my shoulder, the shoulder my doctor totally replaced four months ago. “No, you don’t. Besides,” she laughed, “I can’t afford those newer models.”

Next week, we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. With all my repairs over the years and as many miles that I have lived, I am very happy I am not being kicked to the curb for a younger model.

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog:]