To drive, or not to drive…

I’ve written a few GatorUptown.com entries about my Mustang… Now, though, I fear the Mustang may REALLY have driven its last mile. We were in a collision last week, and I’m not very optimistic that she’ll ever ride again.

I don’t want to get into all the sordid details of the wreck… Suffice it to say, coming home from the airport after a day of work out of town, and there was a collision with another vehicle. Fortunately no-one was hurt, but the front end of the car was crushed in, and both airbags deployed. And since this is a 1996 vehicle, the car almost certainly wasn’t worth enough to justify rebuilding the entire front end. (No official word on this yet, but I’ll be shocked if it’s not considered a total loss.)

So what happens now? Assuming the insurance company writes the car off as a total loss and sends me a check, I’m left with some money but no vehicle. And I’ve got to decide if I really want to go purchase another very old used vehicle (which is all that the hypothetical check would be able to purchase) or pitch in a bunch of my own money to buy a more expensive one. Neither option is very appealing.

And of course, there’s always the voice in the back of my head reminding me that I intend to move to New York City as soon as I’m able to sell off some Charlotte real estate. Which means at some point in the next 1-2 years, I will hopefully have no use for a car whatsoever. Which brings up an interesting question…

Do I really need a car at all, living here in the Center City (aka downtown aka “Uptown”) section of Charlotte?

I actually sat down and thought about all of the expenses of owning a vehicle here… There’s gasoline, of course. Repairs can certainly add up if the car is old and wearing down, like mine was and a comparable replacement would probably be. Add in oil changes, annual inspections, property tax on vehicles in North Carolina, etc… And all of this is assuming I DO NOT have a car payment to worry about.

And then there’s insurance. I’m paying about $150 a month right now, and that’s BEFORE taking into account this claim. At present there’s been no determination of fault — the police officer on the scene did not make issue either driver a citation, so the two insurance companies are going to have to duke that out… I have no idea what impact that might have on my insurance premiums.

When you consider that I walk to work, and that my driving is typically limited to grocery runs, haircuts, short drives to Plaza Midwood, and trips to/from the airport, it makes paying hundreds of dollars every month pretty unappetizing.

So what’s the alternative? Unfortunately Charlotte does not have a zipcar service, which would’ve been an awesome option to consider. But there are some other possibilities… Of course there are buses, and the trolley for Uptown travel when walking isn’t appealing. A taxi from Petra’s is six dollars, as I discovered last night. The light-rail system goes north-and-south, and can take me to desirable locations in South End (like the place I go for my haircut, for one.)

And then there’s Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s special weekend deal. I learned about this when picking up my rental car on Thursday, to help me get around while the insurance company figures out what to do about my Mustang. Apparently there are several people in Center City that take advantage of this at the Enterprise Rent-a-Car location just down the street… You get a car for $9.99 per day, pick it up on Friday or Saturday, and return it Monday morning.

To save a few hundred dollars a month, I could certainly deal with planning most of my routine errands on weekends… Grocery shopping, haircuts, nights out at the movie theatre, etc. These are things that I typically do on weekends anyway! And for the occasional weeknight event, a taxi here and there would still be cheaper than paying out the yin-yang to leave my own car sitting parked outside my home for days on end without being touched.

This is all very hypothetical… My insurance may not go up, and I may be able to find a reliable used car at a reasonable price. But still, it’s an intriguing option to consider.

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One Response to To drive, or not to drive…

  1. […] ’96 the insurance company decided that it just wasn’t worth repairing. I’d been debating whether or not to even buy a replacement car, but I’ve finally made a decision. As of this afternoon, I am the proud owner of a 1999 […]

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