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When is it Time to Buy a New Car?

February 21st, 2007

The kids were being champs. We sat in traffic, 20 miles from home, after a long ride home from the beach. Rush hour made traffic lights long waits. My car had been well tuned-up after a few break downs. I was glad our old car made it through another trip. Friends of ours sat a few cars behind us. It had been a great weekend. Then a taxi driver started staring at the wheel of my car. Oh, no I thought a flat tire. I rolled down the window.

“A lot of water’s pouring out of your car,” he said.

“Oh, that’s the air conditioner,” I said.

“It’s a lot,” he said. “What does the pressure gauge say?” The gauge was on the rise, much higher than normal.

“It’s going up,” I said. “I have twenty miles to go. Do you think I can get home?”
He shook his head.

“There’s a station up the way,” he said. “You better stop.”

I waved my hand to our friends behind us, put on my blinker, and squeezed my car over to the Shell station, about a block up the way. When the attendant opened the hood, the antifreeze was bubbling over the top. There probably wasn’t a drop of fluid left in the engine. If I would have tried to drive home, we wouldn’t have made it, and my precious car would have sizzled up like over cooked bacon.

Buying cars in Costa Rica is expensive, really expensive. My car is 15 years old and paid for. To try to replace it, it could cost easily $75,000.00 (and that’s a conservative figure). But a car gets to that point when repairs outweigh the cost, and it’s time to get a new one. That formula has changed greatly since we’ve lived in Costa Rica. I need to make this four wheel drive last because about once a week I find myself “off-roading” it.

The Shell station had a mini-restaurant in it with food and a place. This too, is a rarity in Costa Rica. Usually, one can feel blessed to find toilet paper and a lock on the bathroom door at stations.

I called the tow truck; fed the kids some ice cream and chips; loaded our goods into a taxi; and left the keys with the attendant.

A few days later the car was home, raring to go. With a little luck, we wouldn’t need to buy a new car this time around. I barely had time to thank the taxi driver for his Good Samaritan act of kindness. And I can only hope next time, another one will come along.


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