Well friends, I did something I didn’t want to do this week and that is to go into debt (if you’ve been keeping up with my financial Friday series you would understand) and buy a car. While I’m not happy I went further into debt, I’m excited to talk about my new Toyota Highlander.
My equinox has become increasingly unreliable. It is a 2013 and that particular year of Chevy equinox has been particularly problematic. After welding a flex pipe and new tires( $1,400), replacing the entire engine (for $3,700) in 2018, changing the oil constantly, I started having problems that it randomly wouldn’t start and needed a jump. I had taken it in and the mechanics couldn’t find anything wrong with it. The timing chain busted 5,000 miles after warranty. This is a lemon of a car and I am NOT the only one who thinks so.
Let me start off by saying that Winter has come WAY too early in Northeast Iowa. We’ve had about 2 weeks of snow on the ground, I have NOT been home to do a “winter transition.” I need to haul out the snow pants and boots and see what fits and what is in storage and find that matching glove etc. I still have to find Gannon’s car seat cover or transition him to a new rear facing car seat in general.
On Monday night, I had driven across town to my mom’s for supper and of course when we went to leave my car wouldn’t start with a 6 degree temperature. The boys were already in their car seats, not dressed that warmly, and my car wouldn’t start. It had just been a day. I was crying and brought the boys back into the house. Mom broke it to me and said, “Kalissa, you need to trade your car in. What if your car would have stalled and the boys were left wearing their fall jackets in the cold?”
I already knew that. I just didn’t want to admit it. (and gosh darnit I need to update to the winter clothes!) While I hated my equinox, we were SO CLOSE to paying it off. It was only a 2013 – why does it have SO MANY PROBLEMS! Karl and I spent about 45 minutes outside FREEZING trying to get it jumped.
What hurt the most is that Dad should have been there. He would have been able to start it. He would know what to do. In hindsight, I don’t think Dad knew much about cars but he was always there for me to offer advice and answer questions and he would ALWAYS test drive the car with me before I committed to buying it.
He has pulled me out of the ditch more than once. He has brought me gas before (whoops) and even though he wasn’t an expert, in my eyes he was the only opinion I’ve ever trusted when it comes to cars. And he’s gone now.
I started asking around. I googled “most reliable vehicle brands” and Toyota was #1. Dave Ramsey has always recommended Toyotas. I asked my nursing students what they had or what their parents have liked and one suggested a Toyota Highlander.
In Northeast Iowa there are a LOT of Chevy, GMC, and Ford vehicles. There aren’t a lot of foreign car dealerships. There aren’t a lot of foreign car mechanics either. Toyota isn’t a very popular brand but I knew it was a brand I could trust.
I had stopped in the ER to chat with the staff after clinicals one day. I knew at that point I was looking for a Toyota Highlander. Someone suggested to check out the dealership that my friend arianna_unsure (I’ve talked about her before – go follow her on Instagram and Spotify for podcasts) Anyway her boyfriend works at a dealership about an hour away.
I looked up the website and the first car that was on the website – 2013 Toyota Highlander with 103,000 miles – right in our price range!
I called and scheduled a test drive, called the bank and arranged the loan, Craig was able to come with because it snowed ALL DAY LONG and we bought the car the next day!
So I traded in the equinox. It didn’t bring much because they have such a bad reputation now.
Dad always said – NEVER buy a car without a full tank of gas – thank goodness they offered one before I had to ask or I may have teared up a bit. They threw in a free oil change, they gave us a gift certificate to go out and talk it over before we made the purchase, they offered us hot chocolate, all in all it was a wonderful experience and over with in ONE afternoon! Everyone was SO friendly and really seemed as they enjoyed their jobs! Who could ask for more?
So far I love it. The engine is a V6 compared to my 3.6L in my equinox – I can FEEL the difference. AND it has 4 wheel drive for the winter weather and my 32 minute commute! It had seat warmers, third row seating, and most importantly it is reliable and gets great gas mileage!
Here’s a trip down memory lane for you:
My ’87 Buick LeSabre. I loved this car. I loved it so incredibly much. I drove it back and forth to the nursing home and CNA class and all over NEIA with my friends (mostly to WalMart because we had nothing better to do) the entire summer after I turned 16 until the summer before senior year. I bought “Betty” from my brother Karl for $200. These pictures were on the last day of my sophomore year I think? I hit my first deer in this car. I put it in the ditch on the first icy day I had ever driven. I was about 400 feet out of the driveway. I called dad to come help me. He walked down to where I put it in the ditch, got in it, and drove it through the ditches to the farm. I am dying laughing thinking of that story while I’m writing it. I was so mad he made me walk.
Here’s a picture of me and my brother Karl. We wanted a last day of school picture with Dad! HAHA! See him driving the tractor and doing chores in the background? Perfectly timed photo mom!
Here is my 2000 Lincoln town car – I also loved this car! It had key less entry, leather seats, it was a beast! I bought it the summer before senior year. It was rear wheel drive which was SO inconvenient in the winter. It had a pink fuzzy steering wheel cover that Craig HATED! I bought it with only 60,000 miles on it and I finally let it go at 138,000 miles after the rear axel broke AGAIN about a month before I got pregnant with Carver! (2012 – 2016) I ditched this car on the way to clinicals (it was so snowy, they should have been cancelled) and mom and dad came to save me. This picture was taken the first day of my senior year – same scene in the background! and yes those are GIANT feather earrings in my hair!
And then the dreaded equinox *eye roll*
And now – the highlander:
I’m optimistic. I think it was a good choice for our family. I’ve heard Toyotas last a very long time and can have crazy high mileage and still run like a champ! And we can have that third baby without having to move up in vehicle (not that it is anywhere on our radar at the moment) BUT we can grow into it!
My first car buying experience without my Dad brought back so many memories and things he has taught me. Now it is Craig and I. It’s different now. We will get used to it. Another “first” that I didn’t think would effect me this much.
Do you guys have a Toyota? Have you had trouble with your eqinox? What was the first car you bought?
See you tomorrow at 5:30 am! Thanks for reading friends!