My Next Car Should Be Able to Fly

Suby in Seattle

Suby in Seattle

This is part one in a two-part car series. 

This past weekend I drove with some friends to an area Northwest of Los Angeles to participate in a mountain 6k trail run. Although technically not THAT far from where we live, everyone, including me likes to avoid being the driver, because let’s face it, driving in LA just kind of sucks.

There was talk of doing Rock. Paper. Scissors. to see who had to drive, but my friend Jenna graciously stepped up to the plate and offered to drive. Whew! Another reason why I don’t want to drive? My car is an old POS.

Jenna drove a Hyundai (not sure what kind) and immediately I was jealous at how pretty and spacious it was. Of course she also had the cool touch screen panel that all new(ish) cars seem to have these days. And on the way home from our weekend trip, my friend Amy was able to plug in her iPhone to recharge it with the built in USB charger. Oh, and it also had seat warmers and the backseat drivers could control their own temperature.

Not too long ago I gave my friend and next door neighbor a ride to the airport. I agreed to move her fancy car on street sweeping day. It was one of those cars that doesn’t need a key to start it (cue my head turning sideways like a dog). “Rarh?” OK, I get you push the button, but what I didn’t know was that my foot had to be on the gas pedal (or was it the break?) to get the car to start.

I just about literally had the type of meltdown I only get assembling Ikea furniture, until somehow by accident my foot landed in the right spot and the car started. I’m pretty sure The Universe was cracking up at me.

I bought my POS that I’ll call “Suby” (a 2002 Subaru Impreza) in 2002, brand new. I was living in Seattle at the time and Subarus are very popular in that area, because of all the outdoor enthusiasts and their love of 4-wheel-drive vehicles. I thought I was super bad-ass owning one with  ski racks, so I could take the “crew” up to the mountains to go snowboarding in style. And I thought I was fancy-schmancy with my built in CD player so I could listen to Jack Johnson ad nauseam.

Then I moved to LA, where at the time Hummer H2’s occupied all the lanes on the 405 freeway. You’d think everyone was driving to the gun range, but no, they were on their way to the Warner Bro’s lot where they required a double-wide parking space. There was not a Subaru in sight unless you drove to Northern California.

Several years later everyone traded in their H2’s and became “environmentally” “friendly” and bought a Prius. Now they could get to the Warner Bros. lot in the carpool lane. Hurray!

scratchy Suby

scratchy Suby

Meanwhile my lil’ blue car started feeling the wear an tear of a well-lived life. Sand became a constant staple in my car, along with beach volleyball gear, and banana peels which I would eat and throw on the floor on the way to the beach. Scratches and dents adorned the body of the car, half of which were probably caused by me, and half by people in random parking lots who backed into me, but I never bothered following through with repairs because, well why bother at this point.

For awhile she ran great too, giving me the confidence to overlook the outside flaws. But last year she got kind of sick, breaking down in the middle of the 405 freeway at rush hour at one point, while people drove by in their Priuses (or would it be Priusi?) giving me the middle finger. All in all I spent 5 cough thousand cough dollars on my car last year.

This year Suby turns 12, and she  has just over 100k miles on her. The same Jack Johnson CD’s are still on a little shelf below the dashboard, except now they all skip, and sometimes when I hit play the display reads “error.” The time will soon be near for me to purchase a new car.

I currently have a savings bucket just for a down payment on a car, but it will depend on how long my car will last to know how much of a down payment I’ll have. After that, using a car loan calculator site can help me better decide what I can afford, but I’m pretty sure at this point when I’m ready to buy a car, it should be able to fly. 

In part two I’ll talk about what kinds of cars I’m looking at. Maybe you can help me decide? 

What’s the longest you’ve driven a car you’ve owned? Did you ever name your car at a certain point?


Tonya is a video editor/producer and writer living in Los Angeles who enjoys beach volleyball, playing ukulele, and running. To get the latest updates, be sure to subscribe. To support her fundraising efforts to produce more video for this site, please visit her crowdfunding page!

Latest posts by Tonya (see all)

  • moneystepper

    In 2009, I was driving an “L Reg” Ford Fiesta which my parents had bought in 1994. “Benito” may have been 15 years old, but he was a good friend…! :)

    • Tonya

      Oooh that’s a cute name!

  • eemusings (NZMuse)

    Haha I think I remember you mentioning that story to me!

  • Charles@Gettingarichlife

    The best car in the world is the paid off car.

    • Tonya

      True, and I don’t plan on getting one until I really, really have to! :)

  • Matt @ momanddadmoney

    Haha, oh wow. I did the same street cleaning thing for my friend who had a car with a keyless start, and it literally took me probably 20 minutes to figure it out. It was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

    I just went through my first ever car buying experience and before that I had owned my other car for almost 12 years. Our “new” car can’t fly (it’s a 2007), but it runs smooth and doesn’t constantly feel like it’s going to fall apart. So that part is nice.

    • Tonya

      ha ha Travis had the same problem we did. Glad it was’t just me!!! Having a car that you feel confident will run is a pretty good feeling. I just never know with Suby. Fingers crossed she runs a few more years.

  • DC @ Young Adult Money

    Well, I haven’t named my car but I know MANY people who do. My car is a 2001 saturn L-Series and it’s going on 217k miles! I’m hoping it can last another year (or two?) before I have to get a new car, but I’m driving it until it needs a costly repair.

    • Tonya

      My car before Suby was a saturn and I drove that sucker to the ground too. I realized though I was much too short to be driving in it because the seat never came up tall enough.

    • Kara

      I had a Saturn S-series that I also drove into the ground. I think it had better than 250k miles on it when I finally traded it in. At that point it was going through a quart of oil a week on average. :) But I cried when I walked away from that car. It was awesome.

  • Travis Pizel

    Your story about not being able to start your friend’s car cracked me up…because I had the same thing happen to me. A friend of mine asked me to pick her up at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport (about an hour away) because her husband was out of town and she was coming home from visiting family. I was to take her car….but I couldn’t get the damn thing started (for the same reason you mentioned – foot not on brake pedal). I was already short on time, and she was still in the air so I couldn’t call. Luckily, I knew someone else with the exact same car that I called to assistance. It was a fun conversation, “Hey, uh…..I have a question for you. How do you freaking start your car????”…….

    • Tonya

      hee! I know it’s like, “uh HOW long have I been driving and I can’t figure this damn thing out!” Ah kids these days and their toys. Now get off my lawn!

  • Kali @ Common Sense Millennial

    I can just imagine how frustrating/confusing/slightly panic-inducing not being able to get the car to start would be! I had no idea you had to do more than push buttons, so thanks for the heads’ up – I’ll keep it in mind if I ever need to start someone’s keyless-start car!!

    I got my 2007 Mazda3 brand new and I LOVE it. It’s got about 93k miles on it now and going strong. We call it The Mouse because it’s small and gray and can dart around pretty quick :)

    • Tonya

      zoom zoom! :) Yes those high tech cars are confusing. I felt like such an idiot. It was probably humorous if you were watching me. :)

  • Cat Alford/ Budget Blonde

    I’ve only had one car in my life. The ‘rents gave it to me when I was 18. And yes, he has a name. Kal. And, we’re very close. ;)

    • Tonya

      Awe, I like that name! :)

  • Kara

    I currently drive a 2002 Acura (that I bought used) with 187k miles on it. I plan to keep it to at least 200k miles, and I’m hoping for 225k (and considering I drive fewer than 5000 miles a year in it, that’s going to be a looooong while. :)

    Yes, I do sometimes jones for a new car with bells and whistles and a non-scratched up finish, but really? My car runs great. I put a new transmission, new brakes, and new tires on it last year. For me $5k to keep it going for another few years is MUCH better than having a car payment.

    • Tonya

      I agree that not having a car payment is awesome. I haven’t had one in years. I think you have to weigh the cost of repairs versus a downpayment or cash for a new one. I hope Suby runs for several more years truthfully. I’m less worried about the way she looks more than I am that she gets my from point A to point B safely.

  • Done by Forty

    Aw, I am sad that you’ll be getting rid of the Suby! I love those cars. I recently had 1997 Altima that I drove for over a decade. It was bulletproof but, unfortunately, I wrecked it when driving into the sun. :(

    I’m excited to hear what other vehicles you might be considering. Maybe you’ll end up keeping your current car though? I’m pulling for the Suby!

    • Tonya

      Oh I’ll be driving Suby for awhile unless she starts breaking down a lot again. Hopefully that was just a bad year. Truthfully I plan on driving it to the ground so I can have as much cash on hand for a new used one saved up! Go Suby Go!

  • Kemkem

    My last car was a BMW 540i. I called it “the beast”. It was a turned in leased vehicle, but it was new to me. I drove it from 2004 till 2013 when we left the country. If we hadn’t moved, l would still be driving it. Now, we walk or take the bus. We can’t get used to driving on the other side yet, plus we live right in the middle of everything.

    • Tonya

      Where did you move to? That’s awesome you can walk everywhere or take the bus!

      • Kemkem

        Malta! makes life way easier. I don’t miss the 405, and l don’t miss driving in Houston either.

  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    LOVE the car starting story! My wife went through the same thing, and I did as well when we got our Altima. She was convinced our six year old (she was two at the time) would go down to the garage, start the car and kill herself. Fortunately for us, her feet don’t reach the break pedal. ;) I totally name my cars – of course I said I never would as my Dad does and that promise to myself lasted all of five minutes after getting my first car.

    • Tonya

      I’ve noticed some other commenters said they went through the same thing. Whew! Glad it wasn’t just me! :)

  • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    We have an ancient green Civic named Yertle. Green and slow, like a turtle,but we’ve only had it for a couple of years for a commuter car for Jim. My current car is the longest I’ve ever kept one. It’s a 2008, but already is going on 120k miles, so I guess we drive like mad here. I bet you probably spend the same amount of time in the car as me, but I’ve gone 100 miles, and you’ve gone 2. We have tons of Subarus (Subari?) here, so a beat up old, one would fit right in and you might have use for the 4WD! If I lived in LA, I’d get a Smart Car or a Fiat, which would not get out of my driveway here, but they look so fun to drive.

    • Tonya

      I love that name, and your right about the time it takes to drive that distance. At least I work from home most of the time, but that also means I’m lame and hardly explore LA because I don’t want to drive anywhere. Yes I was thinking somewhere like Colorado might be a good place to advertise when and if I ever do sell on CL. :)

  • Shannon Ryan

    Flying cars would be fantastic in LA. It might mean we can get somewhere in half the time it takes today. :) My heart still skips a beat when I think about your car breaking down on the 405 during rush hour. And I also remember all those Hummers rumbling done the freeways. LOL! Sadly, I don’t name my cars. I spend less time in them now that I relocated my office and miss our quality time together, braving the 405. Sniff. Sniff. Not really. I love my 5 minute commute!

    • Tonya

      I love my commute from my bedroom to my kitchen/office too. I hate when I have to drive somewhere to work on location. Yes, that 4OH!5 experience was terrifying!

  • Stefanie @ brokeandbeau

    I’m 27 years old and I’ve never owned a car. That’s what you get when you’ve lived in NYC for your entire adulthood. I’m gonna be clueless about what to do if I ever leave. I mean, I drive when I’m at my parents house, but I literally know NOTHING about buying a car.

    • Tonya

      That’s great you’ve never had to have one. I’ve always lived in car towns, well maybe with the exception of Seattle, but I still do love having one. I just wish traffic didn’t suck so much here.

  • Debt and the Girl

    I still drive the same car from high school and I love it. Hopefully it will last much longer. I def. do not want another car payment

    • Tonya

      Awesome! Me either, or as small of a loan as humanly possible.

  • Erika Newlyweds

    this is very time appropriate for us. We will def be on the market for a new car late this year or early next. We’re already saving in the anticipation of it. And you want to know our top choice right now? A Prius! hah. Yes we are THOSE people. I would suggest you look at the Prius C. (i think its the c-its the compact version and gets great mileage.) Prius is the car that Eric wants so I’m cool with that. I would really love the Tesla, but you know, I don’t sh*t money.

    • Tonya

      You don’t?!?!? lol! You’re the second person to mention a Tesla today. I’ll have to check that out for “shits” and giggles. :)

  • Challenge Mantra

    My husband and I drove our car on a cross-country road trip, and we still have it! It brings back a lot of wonderful memories :)

    • Tonya

      I drove my old Saturn across the country. I think it’s stuff like that that sometimes makes it harder to part ways with an old car. Lots of memories attached.

  • Holly Johnson

    Sounds like maybe it’s time for a new car? =/ Our cars are older but paid off and we plan to drive them for a very long time. Greg’s Prius only has 40K miles on it so it should get at least another 150k!!

    • Tonya

      Not quite yet, but preparing myself.

  • BrokeMillennial

    I’ve started a car fund too, mostly because I know where ever I end up next will require I have wheels. I have a love/hate relationship with having no car here in NYC. Sure, keeps some expenses down but then you HAVE to rent/bus/fly/train to any place outside of the five boroughs. That gets pricey. Hope your car search goes well when the time comes, be sure to negotiate!!! :)

    • Tonya

      That’s good you started a fund because you never know. I can imagine though having a car in NY is probably more of a pain than not having one. Yeah?

  • Andrew

    I drove my ’97 Altima for 10 years. I bought it used in 2000. A week before my wedding it broke down while I was driving home from work to meet a vendor. I started losing confidence in its reliability, but I probably didn’t maintain it like I should have. I actually wouldn’t mind a Prius since I have a long commute to work…I’d definitely save on gas and I can use the carpool lane.

    • Tonya

      Yeah when you start to lose confidence in its reliability and safety, that’s when it’s time…everyone who has a Prius loves it. I’m just not a huge fan for some reason.

  • debtfreeoneday

    I think it’s great that you kept your car for so long! I had one car brand new which I called my silver bullet!? (Nippy but small) I kept it until it was around 10 years old and then I upgraded it to another old car which was even older but slightly bigger!

    • Tonya

      That’s a good name! I hope to hold on to this one as long as I can!

  • alwayshungry4

    Okay, I gotta ask – the flying car reference, is it because you watched the latest Marvel?? I read your article and then watched this week’s episode and thought of you (if not… um,… sorry for the spoiler alert). I know what you mean about new car envy – a lot of my friends have newer cars and I still have my 97 where a window no longer is able to roll down and with lights being held up with tape. lol I can’t wait to read what your car perspectives are!

    • Tonya

      That’s so funny! No, but I did just watch that episode last night. I seriously LOVE that show. Is it just me or is Coulson kind of crushable? I love his relationship with Skye. I love that your car is being held up with tape. You win! :)

  • E.M.

    I kind of got jealous when my coworker offered to drive us to a job event last year. She has a brand new Jetta with the navigation and heated seats as well. This will be my fifth year of driving my little Civic, and I love it. I purchased it knowing the passenger window didn’t work, but as long as it continues running fine, I’m not going to care. I think most people recommend Honda’s, Toyota’s and Hyundai’s as they’re pretty reliable. My aunt swears by Toyota and purchased a 2006 Corolla last year and loves it.

  • Brent

    My grandmother gave my brother and I a 1978 Chevy Nova when were were teenagers and I drove that car until I was 26 years old. The only reason I sold it was because I was moving thousands of miles and the cost to ship it or drive it (it was a gas guzzler) wouldn’t have been worth it. It had a few names over it’s life with me with the most common being “The BrownMobile” as it was an ever so awesome shade of 1970s brown with plaid seats. I loved that car and really wish I would have kept it now.

  • Lisa vs. the Loans

    I bought my car new in Nov’12. I plan to drive that thing until it’s a POS, too!