When life gives you lemons, buy a lemon
One sometimes finds themselves plunked into the brutal market of shady car dealerships and dubious craigslist ads. Whether it’s moving out, an unfortunate accident or Martians have suddenly abducted your car, it’s occasionally necessary to cave and buy a beater just to get you through your next term. I know I did, and here’s what I learned from obtaining my own spectacularly shitty van. (A rusty 1996 Ford Windstar with the Phoenix Inn logos barely peeled off.)
Decisions Are Hard
There is nary a more vulnerable feeling than standing on a car lot, trying to decide if the Camry chop shop special to your left is less likely to make you die in a fireball than the hulking Windstar on your right. The salesman stares into your eyes, making you wonder if you should just take up biking. In the end, you just have to test drive and see where things go. Don’t be afraid to leave and come back again, but just bite the bullet in the end.
Just Because it Doesn’t Have a Key Doesn’t Mean it Won’t Start
Apparently, all you need to look like the sketchiest driver in the world is a large screwdriver and an even sketchier van. Make sure to keep your licence, title, insurance, and all the paperwork on you at all times, and leaving the price tags on the vehicle until you make it to the DMV to put your newest addition to the family in your name doesn’t hurt either. Re-keying your ignition and doors is also a lot less expensive than you’d think, so don’t worry.
Just Because it Starts Doesn’t Mean it Won’t Have Problems
The first time I experienced my van stalling on me was in the middle of an intersection. After my near-death experience, I quickly made sure my will was in order, and then took my van in for a check up. A word to the wise, auto parts stores are less likely than a mechanic to charge you nearly $300 to not tell you what the problem is, and are more likely to plug in a diagnostic tool and help you get the right parts. I learned this the hard way.
Just Because it Has Problems Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Fix Them
After your moment of existential dread concerning what happens to you after you die in yet another intersection, you will be more than happy to buy a few parts, and get some knowledgeable friends or even a mechanic to help you replace them. YouTube and auto parts stores are a wealth of knowledge, don’t be afraid to ask questions and use your search bar heavily.
You Will Hate Your Vehicle
There will come a moment when you break down yet again, and honking cars swerve around you, and that an insatiable urge to light your vehicle on fire and never look at it again will wash over you. Ignore this urge.
You Will Love Your Vehicle
There will also be times where you are parked out in the country, sitting on your crappy van, car, Vespa, or bike, and genuinely appreciate the decision you made in that dusty, hot, sketchy car lot. Hold on to these moments and save them for when your car breathes its lemony last and you have to set out yet again to purchase your next one.