RIP, little Volkswagen Golf. We hardly knew ye, but you cost us a freaking fortune during your oh-so-brief time with us. We've been very lucky in the past buying used cars. I have relished telling the story of having once bought a car for $1000 at the same time a friend bought a new one for $15,000 - eight years later, we both sold them for a thousand. So we didn't hesitate when good friends offered to sell us their well-cared for VW, below Blue Book value, when they moved across country. The tragedy of watching the miserable VW die a slow death totally negates the former happy story. Thousands of dollars were spent during its last year trying to keep it alive, each repair promising to be the last for a while. It was just its time to go apparently.
The day I drove it to the official VW dealership repair shop, after our beloved backyard mechanic told us he couldn’t do anything else for it, turned out to be the last time I would ever drive it. It “jumped time” (whatever that means), and the ruined timing belt apparently took out some other engine parts with it. So now we were in the very bad position of having to find another car quickly with very little money to do so. We have a little used truck, but it only has three seat belts. There are four of us – and sometimes more. We began the search. And it ended with Zipcar.
Zipcar is a national car-sharing program. You pay an annual membership fee (ours was $25), and then you just pick up the closest car when you need it, billable by the hour or the day. For us, cars are $7.50 to $8.50 an hour or $69 a day, and gas and insurance are included. It isn’t for everyone, but we think it might be for us. We are lucky to live downtown – within walking distance to entertainment, community events, the library, the food co-op, and numerous bus stops. The city's growing bike lane network connects us safely to a number of destinations. We really don’t need a four-seatbelt car often, and having to walk a mile to pick one up, and actually pay for it each time we use it, will hopefully help us be even more discriminating. The idea of sharing a car thrills me. The possibility of driving one that is likely to get us where we’re going without a detour to the mechanic’s will be a huge relief.