L​essons My First Car Taught Me

A​nd how my bank account was reduced to, well, nothing at a very young age

Max Ruse posted in USA News
4w ago

M​y first car was a 2004 Chevrolet Impala with about 170,000 miles on it. My grandfather had bought the car practically new, my father bought it from my grandfather, and then I was lucky enough to receive it as a present for my parents. Yes, a present FOR my parents. I'll explain.

I went to high school in southern New Hampshire but I lived in southern Vermont. This meant a 25 mile drive to school each way tying up significant portions of my parents days dropping me and picking me up from school. While I like to think of my first car as a present for myself, it really was equally a present to my parents as it meant that I could drive myself to school.

W​hen I received my 2004 Impala, it needed brakes and a windshield. No big deal, right? Boy was my 17 year old self (and bank account) quickly proven wrong. Keep in mind this was also the time when in the United States gas prices were hovering around $4 a gallon for regular unleaded. In all honesty though, my Impala was really quite a good first car. During our time together, it needed a couple of starters, brakes, a windshield, the ignition had a weird issue where it wouldn't recognize the remote always, and lastly the heater core went out one day when me and my wife-to-be were about two hours away from home. Let it suffice to say that she must love me, because she sat in about six inches of antifreeze for two hours as it all came pouring into the car on the drive back home that night. Somehow it only poured onto the passenger side of the car and I was driving (lucky me).

I​ thought you all might enjoy a story of my first car, but what was yours? Feel free to comment below how your first car impacted you and your bank accounts. Did it jade you from vehicle ownership? Was it worth every penny? I look forward to hearing!

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Comments (15)

  • Great story, my 1997 Nissan hardbody, was my grandfather's before it was mine, I rebuilt the engine myself and added a hot cam and long tube header, with a custom exhaust, a couple years later and she's still my baby, I love my truck

      1 month ago
    • That’s awesome and even cooler you still have it!

        1 month ago
    • Well I'm still in high school and I've only had it for a few years, but I don't plan on selling it

        1 month ago
  • 1987 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham. Bought it for practically nothing ($200) from a very old man who hasn't drove it in years. I was 16, young, dumb, and thinking I hit the jackpot with this barge of 80s luxury.

    That honeymoon phase lasted all of one week. There was a plethora of things wrong with it. The gas gauge was inoperable, so I would set the trip odometer and stop for gas every 175 miles. I ran out of gas a few times, but my trusty gas can saved me. The front passenger door couldn't be opened from the outside. The sunroof opened, but sometimes wouldn't close. So I kept it closed. Oh, and it leaked too. The factory alarm system was so buggy, it would go off whenever I locked the vehicle. So I never locked it (my "anti-theft" was the gas gauge that always read E). Radio didn't work; neither did the cassette player. Nothing a portable boombox couldn't fix. It drank oil faster than it drank gas. I'd have to add a quart over once a week. The front diver door latch would sometimes...let go. Leading to the door swinging open on right turns.

    The final straw was when the transmission wouldn't shift in to drive unless I redlined it. Leading to me looking like "that guy" every time I got in my car. Took it to a shop to find out the trans was shot and was quoted a few grand. Limped it to the local junkyard and got $350 for it. It was the greatest three months of my life.

      28 days ago
    • That’s a great story! That first car sure does make an impact in a lot of ways on us

        28 days ago
  • Good story, and not a bad looking first car, I have to say. Still yet to get my first car - I'm a stingy petrolhead with the Uber app.

      1 month ago
    • Flying Spur or nothing. No compromise.

        1 month ago
    • Nothing wrong with that! I’m stingy also so totally get it. The only reason I got a car that young was that it served a purpose to my parents also lol

        1 month ago
  • My current car, first car, and only car was and has been a 2012 Chevy Cruze. It's been very good to me and has taught me lots about owning and maintaining a vehicle. And it has been a good introduction to doing maintenance myself. Man, that ATF change was shockingly difficult. Brake pads were easy. And oil changes were too when the drain plug wasn't stripped to a nub. I learned about the importance of checking your lug nuts after a shop handles it the hard way too. RIP wheel hub assembly.

      28 days ago
    • That’s great! I had some issues with not tightened lug nuts also on my first car. Cracked rim and almost crashing in Boston was part of that story lol

        28 days ago
    • Sounds memorable. Steel wheels are nice peace of mind for me.

      I even correctly guessed it was the wheel hub making that noise but was too inexperienced to have a practical fix for it. The wheel didn't fall off so I guess I got away with it....

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        28 days ago
  • My first car which I still own is a 2000 BMW 528i, my parents didn’t mind what car I bought as long as I was responsible for repairs.

    So when I bought the car, it had over 257000 miles on it and only needed basic work. But the problem is that there is a TON of the basic work, so much that I can’t keep track, as it’s a BMW, I rarely have money in my account 😂. and I know for sure that I have beyond the value of the car, but I did only pay $1200 for it and it was a 5 Speed manual so I think it’s worth every penny.

    Also considering all the electrics worked and it runs and drives. BTW. The car I have is In my profile picture.

      29 days ago