Ah the frustrations of automobile ownership.
My wife and I have two vehicles. She drives a 2003 GMC Envoy. From a cosmetic perspective, it is still in good condition and has only 60,000 miles on it. I drive a 2002 Mitsubishi Montero Sport. It is not in the best physical condition, but it is not a clunker either. It has about 85,000 miles on it.
This past week, my wife’s car has been towed to the service station twice (thank goodness for AAA!) and we have driven it to the shop a third time. Since we got our Envoy, it has seen a steady stream of mechanical problems that have both caught us by surprise and cost us time and money that we would rather not have spent.
By contrast, my Mistubishi has been a model of mechanical consistency. I’ve replaced batteries and tires due to normal wear and tear. I think I may have had to have the brake pads replaced. Nothing unusual or unexpected.
We bought our Envoy because after 9-11 we felt that we should “Buy American.” From macro-economic and patriotic perspectives, it seemed like the right thing to do. I had not driven an American car since my Chevy Berretta in the late 1980′s and I don’t think my wife had driven an American car since she had a vintage Mustang (sadly, that was long before we met).
Now we are getting to the point where we will need to consider when we should buy a new vehicle. My Mitsubishi will probably run for at least another 100,000 miles (probably 12 years given my usage of the vehicle), but the Florida sun and the passage of time will probably destroy it cosmetically. Even now, my wife and kids are suggesting that my clients should never see me driving it.
My wife’s Envoy, which we keep in our garage, will remain cosmetically attractive for years and it will log fewer and fewer miles as my kids move out of the house. At the same time, it has been such a drain from a mechanical perspective that we may have to part with it sooner rather than later.
Whether we decide to trade in one vehicle or two vehicles, our first decision is going to be “Should we buy American?” That remains a big decision for us because we both want to do our small part to support American-owned businesses. It is a major motivating factor for us.
Our desire to “Buy American” notwithstanding, however, our experience with our Envoy has left us skittish. Even though we can base our assessment of American made vehicles on only one purchase, our experience with our Envoy has been so bad (and costly) that we have to pay heed to it. I suspect that my wife and I will purchase another five vehicles over the course of our remaining lives. A sample of one is thus a substantial sample.
So now I come to the crux of my dilemma. I need advice from you, my good and faithful readers, why should my wife and I consider purchasing an American car for our next purchase. For all of the patriotic reasons for buying American, I need better reasons to shop American because I really do not want to get stuck with a car that is going to need to go into the shop for anything more than routine maintenance.
What has been your experience with American cars? With foreign cars? Should I let my experience with one vehicle prejudice me against all American made vehicles? Should I still “Buy American?”