Little Probe-lems and my mid-twenties crisis

“Not good,” I said to myself as the needle dropped to zero rpms. “C’mon baby,” I urged my ’96 Ford Probe. 70 mph to 65. 60. 55. I held the accelerator to the floor. Tried pumping it. Finally my little car came back to life. We were on Eastbound I-70 somewhere in Kansas, trying to make it back to Indiana after a week in Colorado.

My husband woke up next to me. I informed him of the neat little tricks my car had been playing. When I couldn’t revive it, I coasted into a rest stop near Abilene. We sat on a bench in the 104 degree afternoon pondering our next move. Michael studied the Haynes Repair Manual he’d bought earlier. I washed my face with cold water in the bathroom. Our friend Kevin read a John Grisham novel and graciously refrained from complaining about the fact that we drug him halfway across the country in this unreliable car, only to maroon him in the middle of nowhere Kansas.

Michael got the car to start and we were off again. For the next 87 miles, we limped along. The Probe would die, sometimes every few miles. Michael would pump the gas pedal, get to the shoulder, put it in neutral and try to restart it before it coasted to a halt. Sometimes revving it in time could keep it from dying. Two excruciating hours and one speeding warning from a Kansas State trooper later, we crawled into Topeka. We’d given up on the air conditioner shortly after Abilene and it was sweltering. Signs warned of construction ahead in the city. Worried about the danger if it died in an area where the shoulder was closed, I strongly advised we bail. We got off at Fairlawn Road, pretty much the first exit within Topeka’s boundaries. The Probe made it up the exit ramp, but died at the first stoplight. The light turned green. The car started. Mid-intersection, it died. The light turned red. Michael rolled it back. After a few cycles of this, Kevin and I jumped out and pushed.

The good news: we pushed it into an auto repair lot. The bad news: it was a Sunday evening; nothing was open. The worst news: we were stranded in Kansas. We sat in the lobby of a Holiday Inn from 3:30 til around 7 just wondering what to do next. Then we checked in. The next day, we rented a huge Uhaul box truck with a tow dolly and towed the silly Probe all the way back to St. Charles, Missouri. We abandoned it in my mom and stepdad’s driveway, dropped off the Uhaul, and drove Michael’s Jetta back to Indiana. Good thing the Jetta was in Missouri. Too bad we didn’t take it to Colorado instead of mine.

So I’m in the market for a car. The possibilities are endless…within budget, of course. But the budget is much better than it was when I bought the Probe back in high school. Now I’m facing my mid-twenties crisis. On the one hand, I’d like to cling to the last vestiges of youth. Now is the time when we have some money and no kids and we can play a bit. I could get a sporty car. Maybe a Mazda Miata, a Saturn Sky Roadster, a Subaru WRX, a Honda S2000 or a Mustang. Or the beast we test-drove today, a 6-speed Camaro SS. It’s a beauty and so much fun. There’s a car that says I’m young and I’m having fun.

On the other hand, the Camaro would significantly raise our insurance rates, especially for Michael (male under 25 = super expensive). And we never know when kids will come along. Sports cars are not exactly the most safe, car seat-ready vehicles on the road.

So maybe a sensible coup. Like a Honda Civic or Accord, Nissan Altima, Pontiac G6, Chevy Cruze or Cobalt, Subaru Impreza…all those and more are on the table. Mostly I like two-door bodies, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a bigger car in the long run.

Then there’s our lifestyle to consider. We’re outdoors people. We should have something with 4WD and good clearance. Something that can handle a couple bikes or a canoe or a lightweight pop-up camper. To that end, we’re looking at Jeeps and the Subaru Outback Sport (or maybe the Baja). Or we could buy my dad’s F-150 if he wants to sell it. Hmm.

Like I said, the possibilities are almost endless. In all, I’m just very thankful to be where I am and to even have the opportunity to get a different car. I know I’m blessed. But I have to make a decision. I like to think I’m a responsible, rational adult. I also like the idea of a rugged vehicle when we’re in the mountains, but I don’t know if it’s necessary for the majority of what I’ll be using it for. And I love the idea of a sports car. Live a little, right? If I don’t do it in my mid-twenties, I’ll have to wait for mid-life. And that still seems a long way off. I hope.

Advice is welcome from all who read this blog. Particular cars you love or hate? General thoughts? Let’s hear it!

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About Nicole

Daughter of God, wife, mother, volunteer youth leader, substitute teacher, aspiring writer, rabbit owner, nature lover. These are some of my titles.
This entry was posted in Life as we know it, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Little Probe-lems and my mid-twenties crisis

  1. Travis Adams says:

    I mentioned the WRX earlier, but I’m glad to see you are looking at the regular impreza too. I also have been car shopping, and previously went through the crisis you speak of (Sarah let me indulge a little, but I eventually talked myself out of getting a mustang).

    I’m not sure what your price range is, but I do know quite a bit about a few of those cars…its kind of a hobby now to research. Anyway, what I was going to say is that if you are seriously looking at an impreza (and your budget allows), a 2012 would be worth the wait. Its a redesign with a smaller engine. Instead of 26 MPG HWY you will be rewarded with 36 MPG highway. Now, depending on how many miles you drive, the cost of a new 2012 would be offset by the gas savings VS the 2011 (It also looks cooler). The other side of the coin is that the 2011 haven’t sold all that great, and you could probably get one for cheap(er).

    Sarah had a 2009 Civic, and we love that car. it already has 77,000 miles on it and we have had no issues, and pretty good fuel economy (36 HWY). My mom just bought a cruze, and she also loves it. However, the reliability is unknown given the car has only been out a year. Sarah test drove a cobalt, and hated it (really, really rough ride). I would be weary of anything chevy would discontinue after a few years of service. Jeeps get pretty poor fuel economy, and according to sarah’s data from work, tend to be inferior to asian cars when it comes to reliability.

    Hope some of my ramblings made sense…I’m tired, so I threw proper grammar and punctuation out the window.

    Good luck on your car hunt!

  2. Travis Adams says:

    Also the cruze gets pretty good fuel economy. My mom got 38 straight highway once; I’m not sure what she normally gets.

    And the 2012 impreza is a bit quicker, even though it has a smaller engine. The 2011’s have an ancient automatic transmission (4 speed), but the new ones have a CVT inside.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Razor A5 Lux! 🙂

  4. Mom says:

    As long as there’s a back seat there’s the option of a car seat. Go for the gusto! But read consumer reports…go for RELIABLE gusto….

  5. Nicole says:

    The Cruze is pretty high on our list right now. Haven’t had a chance to test drive it yet. I know it doesn’t have history on its side, but everything I’ve read and seen about it is positive. It seems like a pretty solid car for its price and isn’t too terribly bland. My dad has a Cobalt. I don’t think he dislikes it, but he uses it strictly for commuting to and from work. Anything longer and they take my stepmom’s new Accord. I like the Accord very much, especially the coup. The sedan feels rather large to me. Similar to the Accord, I also very much like the 2-door Altima, which I test drove the other day. I have a thing for Subarus that probably has nothing to do with logic. I like the culture of Subaru drivers; I feel like it fits with our lifestyle. I’m probably thinking way too symbolically. Fortunately, I have Michael to keep me rational. But I did drive an Impreza in Hawaii and enjoyed it. Also, Michael gets a company discount for Subaru or GM, so that may be a factor.

  6. Nicole says:

    Haha, Razor. I think my Raleigh will get me farther.

  7. Travis Adams says:

    You have every right to like subaru. Rest assured that if you buy one, it is a very solid choice for many reasons.

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