It was November, 2003. I lived in Georgia and I had a 1990 white Chevy Camaro (with T-Tops!) that continually kept shutting off and would not restart for hours!!! (always fun in the Georgia heat, especially when I had groceries…….and ice cream. Inevitably I would have ice cream).
It started literally the day I got it. Yes, I was a dumb kid and bought a car I shouldn’t have. So finally after over 1 1/2 years and move southward across the entire country, I finally said I had had enough. I took the car to a public auction and sold it. A week before Thanksgiving, I went car shopping and I found a vehicle I could afford. My then-fiancée was with me at the time and pushed and pushed for me to get a white Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with leather, sunroof, all the options. But my eye kept going to a chargold (yes, that’s the factory color) Jeep Grand Laredo with cloth and no sunroof. No options. V6 motor, not even 4 wheel drive.
The deal was done.
Fast forward to February 25, 2015. More than 11 years later, more than 140,000 miles piled onto the Jeep. I had driven the thing from Atlanta to New Smyrna Beach and Orlanda, to Scranton, New York City, Madison to Des Moines and Kentucky, and nearly every state in between. The Jeep has been with me through my entire marriage, more road trips than I can remember, countless oil changes, and the time I ripped the driver’s door off the car. (yes, I really did). My butt is permanently imprinted in the driver’s seat. It’s been a good, reliable vehicle for over a decade- and certainly the longest owned vehicle I’ve ever had.
I love my Jeep. I love it very much. It is not a hauling vehicle, for sure, but it did haul the horse carts on a flatbed trailer for two driving seasons.
Recently, it’s been having some infuriating problems – losing power, shutting off, stalling. In the weeks since our 11th anniversary and today, it has had over $2000 in repairs and the issues still persist. It’s also been invaded by a mouse, which is frustrating to say the least.
I had a hard decision to make – to keep struggling through figuring out the repair, or to pursue buying a vehicle newer, stronger, and more suitable to hauling so maybe I could meet some long-term goals.
Which to do? How to decide?
I could keep sinking large repair bills into the Jeep, and of course risk that I will get stranded somewhere, and know that I can never haul the horses on my own. Affording a second vehicle just isn’t a feasible option. So, my only other option was to try to afford a newer vehicle.
Knowing my budget, I started shopping, just to see. I wanted something that can haul, so I immediately started looking at GMC Yukons because I really like them. I could not find anything in my price range that was new-ish and didn’t have high miles. I already had one vehicle with 242,00 miles on it. I did not need another one. So, my search started to expand to include Tahoes, Suburbans, and any other large SUV or pick up truck.
A pick up truck would be practical for hauling the carts in the bed and the horse trailer behind. But it would be hard for me to manage myself alone getting the cart loaded and having to unhitch and re-hitch the truck to the horse trailer everywhere I went. …. and I don’t like pick up trucks, so I really did scratch that off my shopping list pretty quickly. I don’t haul often, barely once a month. So, driving a pick up truck full time for a part time hauling purposes was not appealing to me. I’m an SUV girl. I’ve been driving one for 11 years after all.
Considering all the options, towing abilities, miles, and of course price, my search narrowed down to 3 vehicles that I really liked:
a 2004 white Tahoe
a 2003 blue Tahoe
a 2005 black Suburban
But there was just one more that my now-husband pushed and pushed for me to see, so we went for a lookie look on Saturday….. and the dealer could not find the car! After an infuriating and crazy run around on Saturday for nearly a full hour that ultimately never produced a car, we left.
Monday rolled around and the dealer called. They located the mystery vehicle and we were welcome to come see it. I didn’t know why my husband was pushing me on it so much. It was red for starters, and I do not care for red. At least if I’m going to buy a car, let me pick a color I like, right?! Besides that, but the dealer really seemed to be pulling a stunt with the magic disappearing act, so I was not exactly eager to go run off and see the vehicle.
None the less, we got to the dealership and ……. no vehicle. At some point, I was nearing the boil-over phase… sometime around the point where the sales manager was talking to us about a different vehicle that also was not yet at the lot. It was a year newer of the one we were there to see. Finally after over 20 minutes of a discussion I had mostly tuned out of, I was pretty well convinced I would NOT be buying a red car from this crazy dealership that couldn’t even seem to produce the vehicle listed for sale!
Lo and behold, a sales person finally comes over and says they pulled the vehicle up to the front.
My husband and I walk out the doors and the first reaction I had was say there was no way that was “my” vehicle. Surely they had the wrong truck. It was BEEEEEAUUTIFUL. Red, yes, but a deep metallic maroon, and although it was a 2006, it was shiny and new and in amazing condition. It’s leather interior looked like it had never been sat in or used at all. It had a power sunroof, a touch screen radio/navigation panel…. and a V8 5.3Liter engine and 4 wheel drive.
I got in. Test drove it. Took it to the barn (dealer is close to the barn). By the time I had driven it back to the dealer, I was ready to take the thing home that night. I loved it. Despite the color, it had everything I needed and wanted like 4 wheel drive, a strong engine, and the ability to tow 6500 pounds, plus extra bells and whistles just because – like a power sunroof and more options and electronic controls than I’ve ever had in any of my 5 previous vehicles combined….. oh, and working A/C. Yea, never had that either. Of course it took me a day or two to get everything finalized and make sure I had the money to purchase it and make monthly payments, but here it is!
This is a 2006 GMC Envoy Denali. It has 121,000 miles on it. New vehicles simply aren’t part of my life. The Jeep was only 5 years old when I bought it, this Envoy is 9, so it’s not the newest car I’ve ever own, but it looks brand new, and is my first V/ 4WD 8 vehicle.
As I cleaned out the Jeep in preparation for trade in, I realized the mouse invasion had done more physical damage to the car than I realized . I tried catching the mouse and warding it off with repellents to no avail. I wonder if the mystery problems it was experiencing in the final weeks were all on account of mouse damage and chewed wires.
It was very bittersweet saying goodbye to a good, reliable vehicle, that I just feel wasn’t given it’s good due. I feel like I betrayed an old friend. I know it’s silly to feel that way over “just a car”, but that Jeep has been an invaluable part of my life for longer than I’ve been married. It was time though, for a new car, especially one I can haul the horse trailer with and get out at least a little bit to some shows and trails. I can currently haul Jesse and his cart in my 2 horse side by side, but long term plans include a stock trailer so I can fit at least Luke and his cart in. I do not believe I will be able to find or haul a trailer big enough to fit Chewbacca and his cart, not with an SUV.
I can only hope the new vehicle gets me through the next few years, but I am not going to wait 11 years again before I buy a new vehicle again. I do love it, though, and while I feel like I am mourning the loss of a very good old friend, I am also excited and overwhelmed by how beautiful the new one is, and looking forward to logging many miles on it. Assuming I don’t crash it today in the snowstorm – great first day to bring home a new car with all wheel drive and 4 wheel drive which I am not used to. There’s 3 inches of snow out there and it’s still coming down! Time to go shovel.