I’m in the fortunate position today that if push comes to a shove with my car, I can manage without it. It’s a two mile walk to work, through a park, which can get a little damp in the pouring rain but is nevertheless manageable. It’s funny but on Friday I took my car in to have it’s cam-belt changed. They had it for the whole day but when I came to pick it up an engine management warning light came on which meant I had to leave it with them. I was due to be going to see my mum, who is currently having chemo for bone cancer and once I had explained that to the lads at the garage, they kindly chucked me the keys for the courtesy car for the weekend. It was kind of them but did bring home how necessary a car is at times.
We were lucky in that we managed to buy my car from the inlaws at the trade in price they were offered by the garage against the new car they were buying. It was a 06 plate Ford Focus and I spent £2,500 on it, which was great. If I had a job that a car was vital for though, I’d have probably had to get something a bit newer if I was going to do a lot of mileage. My first job out of university was in Cambridge and I had a 70 mile a day round commute. Being a student, with debt, and having not lived at the current address for long at all, I’d have probably been considered a credit risk and had to have looked at bad credit car loans.
When I’d been working there 11 months the car broke down in a rather spectacular fashion- I was about a mile from home when the ignition caught fire and began belching out a stream of acrid smoke. I got home, took the key out and was slightly disturbed to see that the engine was still running! I called the RAC out and the chap disconnected the battery which turned the engine off. He told me that I needed a replacement ignition barrel which was only about a tenner but it put me right off the car. To be fair my car did have 118,000 miles on the clock by that point. Fortunately(!) I was made redundant a few days later, so didn’t have the worry of that sort of commute with an old and unreliable car but I would have been properly stuffed in my new job if I couldn’t have found guaranteed car finance.
Nowadays I think we take our cars a little bit too much for granted, so it’s well worth dwelling on how bad it almost got once in a while to remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to afford to run a car because I want to rather than because I need to.