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Old clunker? Nope, it’s an old friend

By A.J. Moore
For the Salisbury Post
To use a Bill Clintonism, “define clunker.” To the Feds and auto dealers, there are pretty specific guidelines regarding what they consider a clunker. These are easily accessed by going online to the cars.gov Web site.
But I wonder if these folks consider the intangible relationship that some of us out here have with our vehicles. I don’t see a stipulation that says, “Your truck helped you bring firewood home for 18 years.” Or, “Your truck got you to and from work at a rate of 70 miles per day down there in Charlotte.” Nor do I see a mention of getting a cash figure added in for your vehicle getting a little boy to football practice, a teenaged daughter to work at Winn Dixie or in general being “dependable.”
Over the past few months, I’ve seen several very compelling comments by readers who were concerned, to say the least, about the “check engine” light coming on in their vehicles. The law is the law, unless the representative who actually had the guts to say “let’s abolish that mess” is actually successful. Won’t happen, but we can all hope. Until then, keep paying the folks who can’t figure out the “light of doom.”
I don’t condemn the “cash for clunkers” project to get people into newer cars, nor do I think it is a bad deal for certain areas in the driving public. If you really don’t buy a car or truck with the attitude it will become part of your family, then speed merrily to the dealership and play russian roulette with a program that may or may not get continued federal funding.
On the other hand, do what I did this morning. I walked out and put my hand on the hood of my ’91 Isuzu pickup and said, “It’s time old friend.” Started up and headed off to get it a new muffler. After 298,000 miles, I thought it was about due. And, $100 later, we left Brothers Tire very happy campers.
You see, I paid off the balance of the $7,200 I owed on this truck two years after I bought it. Since then, I’ve listed it as my primary transportation and saved a ton on insurance premiums for second cars like Mustang GTs. This year, I will pay a whopping $143 in insurance premiums for the year, and my crushing county ad valorem tax bill will be $5.60.
Sure there’s the license and inspection fees, but one of them may actually go away.
Point being, you should think long and hard about what may at first seem like a deal. Most folks won’t pay cash for the auto they get through “cash for clunkers,” so your financier will require full insurance coverage for the full price of the car. Monthly payments will not be cheap nor will they be interest-free. Tax will be based on the new value of the car. And when you see that wonderful, glowing check engine light ó well, that comes free with the car.
As for me, I think me and my old friend Clunker Isuzu may get a new set of tires before winter sets in and we have to go get that firewood again this year …
– – –
A.J. Moore lives in Rowan County.

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