This decision has been in the works for a very long time.
Ever since Abby passed her Learner’s Exam at the age of 14, there have been constant negotiations with her over IF she should get her own car, WHY she should or shouldn’t get her own car, and perhaps most importantly, HOW IN THE HELL a 16-year-old even deserves to get her own car!
I don’t think even the ongoing Brexit negotiations have been this painstaking!
Abby’s biggest argument for getting her very own set of wheels was always very simple.
“Dad! Just think about it… I can drive MYSELF places now! You won’t have to drive me anywhere… like EVER AGAIN!”
It’s true. Abby does need a LOT of rides. Between school, friends, sports and other extra-curricular activities, I often feel like her personal Uber. Driving has been a constant staple of my duties as a stay-at-home dad for over fifteen years, so I have to admit the thought of my daughter driving HERSELF to basketball practice two or three times a week is actually pretty appealing.
So, after plenty of discussion, we weighed the pros and cons and ultimately decided that YES, we would be adding a third vehicle to our stable of family cars. The big question was, what kind of car should we buy?
There were THREE options on the table, and originally I was very adamant that I would only consider ONE of them.
OPTION #1: Buy a BRAND NEW CAR!
Um, I never really considered this one for a second, but my wife certainly did. Lianne thought that purchasing a lower-end, basic, compact car could be achieved for less than $15,000. That way, we would have a full warranty and not have to worry about buying a lemon. I was NOT on board with this idea. I currently drive a ten-year-old Subaru with 175,000 clicks on it, dents on my door and rust bubbles forming on my roof. There was no way my kid was gonna drive a nicer car than me! NO DICE.
OPTION #2: Buy a “QUALITY” USED CAR!
No, this option was not the one I was pushing for either. Most of the nicer vehicles we looked at online were in the range of $8,000 to $10,000 and to me that STILL seemed like a CRAZY amount of money to pay for a teenager to drive independently! What ever happened to buying your kid a true beater that you didn’t have to worry about her wrecking? That’s what I was hoping for and that, brings us to the final option.
OPTION #3: Just buy a BEATER!
This was what I wanted from the start… to buy Abby a car from the early to mid 2000’s with (hopefully) less than 200,000 clicks. However, I know that you can’t just buy ANY old beater. I did my research and found that Honda or Toyota sedan models have a very good reputation for being reliable vehicles, even with very high mileage. And (more importantly) they could be purchased for $3,000 to $5,000.
While I was hoping to save some dough and find a reliable beater for Abby, I quickly discovered there’s a big problem with option #3: those true beater cars are either private sales, or found at those really sketchy used car lots. There is really not a lot of recourse if something goes horribly wrong with your purchase. It truly is BUYER BEWARE! I know people who have bought a beater that turned out awesome and I also know people who have bought a money-pit.
Another issue I failed to consider is the safety of the used vehicle, especially in our harsh Canadian winter. My wife made the rather good point that for half of the year, roads in Calgary can be pretty shitty. Why would we want our 16-year-old kid to venture out into terrible winter weather with a potentially unreliable beater? Lianne and I both have vehicles with all-wheel drive and designated summer and winter tires. We feel pretty secure on the roads.
I’m not so sure I’d feel as safe in a front-wheel drive car with bald summer tires and 203,000 kms on it. So, my original plan of spending a few thousand bucks on a vehicle was thrown out the window.
We chose option #2 and have not regretted it.
A little over a month ago, we bought Abby a 10-year-old Nissan with all-wheel drive, a back-up camera and a little over 130,000 clicks on it. Abby cleaned out her bank account and paid us $1,500 that we put towards the purchase. We got it at a reputable car dealership, so it’s considered to be a “certified” pre-owned vehicle. The fact they have already checked it over with a detailed inspection, made the appropriate repairs and stand behind it gives us some peace of mind that we haven’t bought a lemon!
And speaking of peace of mind… I have to admit that the panic I felt when Abby first got her learner’s license immediately crept back into my brain the second she took out her “new” car all on her own. We share a family Apple account, so all of our devices appear on the “Find my Phone” app. The first dozen times Abby ventured out on her own, I simply could not stop tracking her.
If I felt she stopped too long at an intersection, my mind would immediately flood with a series of unfortunate events. Did the car stall? Was she in an accident? Is she stuck in traffic? Was she pulled over for speeding? Has she left the vehicle in park, abandoned it and is now being chased by police on foot?
I know the last one is far-fetched… but when you are a nervous dad, anything seems possible. Fortunately for me, as the weeks have passed, my nerves have settled down a bit. Abby has now driven all over Calgary and has even ventured out of the city limits to the neighbouring towns of Chestermere and Okotoks. Yes… even Okotoks!
And, have I personally experienced a big difference in my daily Uber duties?
Absolutely! You betcha! 100% YES!
Abby has driven herself to her art camp, she has picked up Daniel from his summer camp, she has driven herself and friends to the movies, she has driven my brother to a car rental place and she has driven Daniel to a friend’s house… more than once! She has even agreed to drive me to the Subaru dealership next week, all without any complaints.
It’s only been a month, so the novelty of driving her very own car hasn’t worn off just yet. But, you just wait… she’ll eventually figure out that it’s really more of a mundane task and WAY less cool than she thinks it is. But for now, we are all enjoying this new family Uber driver who simply can’t wait to get behind the wheel.
As for my bad habit of tracking/stalking her every move while she’s out driving… no I haven’t been able to break it just yet.
I may be well on my way to losing my job as primary driver in this family, but I’m still a dad who will always worry about his little girl, no matter how grown up she’s getting.
For those of you interested in reading other blog entries in my TRILOGY of thrilling teenage driving stories, please click on the links below.