Susan's Blog

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My Car, Myself

As much as I hate to admit it, I am letting the car I drive define me. I was raised not to be a shallow person, but I have struggled mightily against my own deep inner shallowness for my whole life. And now, as Ned and I are at an impasse over what car to get, I feel that part of myself rising up and taking hold. I have chosen to get a vacuum for my car from this list of vacuums.

Currently I drive a 2003 Volvo V70 wagon, which a very good, and very libertarian friend calls “The quintessential Liberal car.” Yes, I am definitely “Liberal.” or “Progressive;” “Dyed-in-the-Wool-Democrat;” but that has nothing to do with what I drive and everything to do with how I vote, which is another blog entry altogether. The reason I drive that car is because I think it is very pretty. It is black and beautifully shaped. It looks and feels like a luxury car, yet I can (sort of, with just the right Lexus early lease return package) afford it. It looks as good driving up to a gala as it does driving up to the school for pick-up. Basically, it is like the perfect shoe: goes with most things I wear, very stylish, and comfortable enough. I have named it “The Party Slipper.” She is just like a party shoe, like a perfect black pump with a 2″ heel. She is about that good in snow, too, by the way. She can run, sure, but because she is so impractical, she slips (skids) a little. But she is very good at communicating, and so every time she skids, she is courteous enough to light up with a little “I’m skidding” symbol, a yellow triangle with a zig-zag line that flashes at me as I glide over black ice.

My big sons are outgrowing the buttery soft taupe leather backseat, and the lease is just about up, so we are now shopping around for a bigger (sigh) car. I want to get the Volvo SUV (the XC90). Ned wants to save some money this time around, so he is pushing for the Honda Pilot. They are about the same size, but the price per month for a lease is about $200 different. Look, I love Hondas. I come from a totally Honda-driving family. Hondas are what I was raised to drive.

Maybe that has something to do with it.

I am in midlife crisis mode, and for me that manifests as a bit of a rebellion from how I was raised — only in the most shallow ways, of course; I love my parents and think they are fantastic people, with their heads mostly screwed on right. But I am who I am, and though my head is mostly screwed on right, I have a bit of a screw loose when it comes to spending money. And what could be more ridiculous than insisting on a more expensive car simply because I can’t bear to drive something whose claim to fame is basically that it is “dependable?” When I look at those Pilots, I don’t see and think about how cheap their reasonable repair bills are or how easy it is to find parts; I see a big, fat hiking boot. A crepe-soled, heavy-toed LL Bean. I see a shoe I would never wear. I see a car with a big fat ass, dragging itself all over town. Though I thoroughly checked it out, good little wife that I am, no amount of extras or pimping will make that car into a dress boot, like the XC90. The only way is to visit car wreckers and trade it for a new one along with selling unwanted Corolla parts. Learn more about metal removal service and check how you can get rid of your car junk on the website of Scrap Metal Pickup, and how you can get you unwanted car removed.

Ah, the XC90. It is like the glamorous big-sister version of my V70. It goes with everything, like my BCBG black suede pointy-toed cowboy boots with 1 1/2″ heel. It has a similar ass to the V70, shapely and pushed up high, and not disproportionately big up front. It comes in all the beautiful colors, like Restoration Hardware green, or creamy white, or the perfect black. It will go with my sage-green house. It will go with my life — or at least the life I wish I had, where I could afford such a car.

Ned thought he was marrying a low-maintenance woman. But, as Humphrey Bogart once said, “He was misinformed.”


I am still agitating for the ’78 Coupe De Ville with the metallic gold paint.

— added by Andrew on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 8:13 am

Agitate away, my friend. I ain’t gettin’ one.

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 9:11 am

hey there-

I have a chrysler pacifica, pimped out as you would have said. My brother in law has a pilot..I personally think they are ugly…my car fits my personality as well..not to pretty, not to manly , functional, and kid friendly…but all in all get yourself what you deserve…worry about money

— added by Kristen on Wednesday, January 25, 2006 at 6:42 pm

you should drive the 06 pilot before you decide. It is a great crossover SUV. I have one. Maybe you should look at the repair history and reliability of the xc90 too. Just a thought

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 5:15 pm

Have you considered any vehicles from American car companies? Before I met Jayne I tended to buy either Japanese or German cars. I guess because they often get ranked higher in comparison and I felt cooler driving them. Jayne, however, would have none of that. She considered it unpatriotic to buy anything but American. I tried to explain that many of the other cars are still built in the states, but she didn’t care. So for the last tens years or so I’ve driven American vehicles exclusivly (trucks and SUVs) and I have to admit they have all been great. In my experience they never break and routine maintenance is cheaper. The best part for me however is something I didn’t expect. I actually get a sense of pride in driving an American made car. It’s corney, I know, and I would never have expected it but for me it’s very true. Just some food for thought.

— added by Pete Lyons on Friday, January 27, 2006 at 9:22 am

Seeing how much time (quality and otherwise) we spend in our cars, how can they not seem a part of us? Why else did I insist on a black car despite the fact that it gets much hotter in the summer sun and shows every speck of mud and dirty water after last week’s rains?

My Autism Awareness magnet also looks really good on it.

— added by kristina on Friday, January 27, 2006 at 9:51 am

hopefully going to talk turkey with the volvo dealer today…sorry all, but i am what i am.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 8:43 am

We’ve had our white Volvo 850 Turbo Wagon for about 10 years now and it’s still going strong at almost 200K miles. That same good friend once you referred to once told me that every slow car that wouldn’t get out of his way (when he was driving a BMW M3) seemed to be a white Volvo station wagon. But of course mine had a turbo so that couldn’t have been me.
Anyway, my only complaint is the cost of repairs. You can’t seem to do anything on a Volvo that costs less than $500.
When the 850 finally bites the dust, I think we’ll also be looking at an XC90 or maybe the XC70. But I think we’ll also look at the Toyota Highlander just to see…
But all other practical issues aside, the XC90 is a really nice car.

— added by Brian on Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 12:46 pm

Here is a ringer, As an autistic Automechanic and trouble shooter (really) and inventer of the Turing motor a 70% efficient car motor,I have literally seen the best and worst of cars. There at times is no rhyme or reason to a lemon I seen them in Chevrolets to Toyotas. Lots of times there is a manfacturing fault in the ‘Model T’ (yes the motor we still use today) and it often can’t be fixed easy. When I trouble shoot I fix the model T and the high tech cares for itself. (usually) on better cars. Modern Computer systems can be easily confused!

I love Toyotas for overall quality and I also own a 62 Pontiac this is the worlds worst car and less tha 1/2% of them surive- this one was my autistic obession (Temple and Cattle) and insight to cars.
For more Please visit my Web blog at Thanks Rich

— added by Pre Rain Man Autism on Wednesday, February 1, 2006 at 1:51 am

I think the XC90 is a winner as well. We bought an XC90 in 2003 and think it a perfect family SUV.

A NOTE OF CAUTION — our XC90 has developed serious safety problems. In our case, the AWD system malfunctions without any warnings to the driver and causes the vehicle to drive very erratically. The problem was confirmed by a dealer six month ago, but neither they nor Volvo can fix it. Turns out my XC90 doesn’t report any diagnostic codes for the AWD failures. The dealer and Volvo have replaced lots of items, including the AWD transmission, but my XC90 is still broken.

The Volvo regional manager for my area says all he’s willing to do is keep trying to fix it. He doesn’t seem to care that I’m driving an unsafe example of what’s supposed to be the safest SUV in the world. IF YOU BUY AN XC90 MAKE SURE YOU REPORT A SUSPECTED AWD PROBLEM DURING YOUR NEXT SERVICE CALL, or you may be stuck with your XC90 if it develops this problem after it’s out of warranty — just as I am now.

My proposed Volvo tagline — Safest cars in the world. Unless the one we built you has safety problems we can’t fix. Then you are on your own.

— added by Omar on Saturday, February 25, 2006 at 3:29 pm

Dear Pete,

Volvo is owned by FORD.

I have a 2005 XC90. It has had two recalls (so far) that were ball joints and bushings. It sure beats my last ride – 1996 FORD Exploader with Death Tires!

— added by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 11, 2006 at 3:55 pm

I need to say “goodbye” to a friend–my 2004 V70 Volvo. For years I thought about buying a Volvo, then I finally got one. Now, after 3 major repairs–wheel bearing, transmission and fuel pressure valve (or something like that) and almost $2,000.00 out-of pocket expenses, I have decided to sell it and go back to the old reliable General Motors product. Not so stylish and doesn’t handle like the Volvo, but they never needed an expensive repair ever year.

So even though I thought (and still do) that it is one of the nicest looking cars and best handling cars I have ever owned (I’m 67), I gotta say farewell–I will miss looking at you.

— added by Anonymous on Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 1:06 pm