The sleepless nights spent in their son’s infancy, do not compare with the sleepless nights spent by the author and his wife, waiting up for their son, who is out in his newly acquired SUV. Niles Reddick reminiscences about the time when he and his wife buy their young son a new used vehicle.
I’d been squirreling away five hundred dollars a month for over two years, and I knew it wouldn’t be enough to cover all the costs of a good used car for my son Mike’s sixteenth. I wanted something that came out in 2020 or 2021 with low mileage and a clean car fax report. I scoured the web nationally for a deal and found a late model, low mileage SUV at a dealership about a three-hour drive from our home. My wife Vicky was my sounding board as I listed the positives (cost, reputation of the car, color, black wheels, Bluetooth, and leather seats that wouldn’t soak in his sweat after baseball practice) and negatives (he’d been hard on every toy and even the upstairs walls and carpets and I worried about safety in a wreck and resell ability of the SUV).
I told Mike we were thinking about the trip on Saturday to look at it and possibly buy it, and I texted him two others to compare. He looked at them over and over and told me it was a tough decision, and he felt even more nervous than he did on his Spanish and Algebra finals. I told him a little bit of anxiety was a good thing. He liked the side steps, the 4x4 mudflaps, and the roof rack (we’d never used the one on our SUVs, so I didn’t understand the importance). He woke me up early to make sure we were still going, and after showers and coffee, Vicky and I were out of the door. He asked questions on the way, and I shared our banker would cover the check and verify funds and I’d finance the rest for a low payment for a year or two and probably pay it off early. I told him I had already checked in with our insurance agent to make sure we were good to drive it home. Since he wasn’t sixteen, he was worried they wouldn’t let him test drive it, and I said, “If they want cash, they’ll let you drive it. My guess is they will and won’t check your learner’s permit.” I was right. I could see dollar signs in the salesman’s eyes since we were the first and only customer there and were paying cash if our son liked it.
I let the salesman and Vicky go with him, and he drove it around a bit, first in the parking lot and then on the four-lane highway. I walked the parking lot checking other options in case he didn’t like that one, but none of the salespeople approached me, probably because they were jealous our salesman got us first and didn’t want to waste their time.When they returned, Vicky drove it and thought it was good. I looked under the hood, checked the body, checked tire tread, and asked for a copy of the car fax. There were no recalls, wrecks, or major engine trouble. The report had listed every oil change, tyre rotation, and service since the sole owner had purchased it new.
We went back to the salesman’s office, and I wrote the check. It felt good to write a check for twenty-five thousand dollars and not have to deal with a finance manager about credit checks, GAP insurance, doc fees, and everything else they lump onto the less fortunate. I still had to sit through an upsell pitch for an extended warranty, a paint protector, undercarriage coating to lessen sound, and an electronics warranty, but since the SUV still had a warranty, I felt like we’d be fine. I was also fortunate to have some local business folks back home who had always taken good care of us whether it was tires and brakes or engine service.
Once home, my SUV went into the driveway and Mike’s went into the garage. He went into the garage about ten times before we all went to sleep to look at it and check different things. I recalled my own first car that I had worked to pay off. It had taken much longer with high interest rates and no down payment since my parents had been poor, and I felt good I could do this for him. He had a sparkle in his eyes, like the days I bought him Matchbox cars from the toy store, and I felt full of love and wished the moment would last forever. I also understood the sleepless nights we’d spent in Mike’s infancy would not compare to the number of times one of us stayed up until 11:00 until he was safely home in his new-used vehicle.