I FINALLY traded in the Altima of Bad Karma. I have owned it three years longer than I ever expected, or should have, but with all the kitchen remodeling and hurricanes and a new roof and new carpet and one damn thing after the other, buying a new car wasn't high on the to do list. The quick story behind the A of BK, for those who haven't heard it before: In 2001, life was good. Then the roof fell in - my husband collapsed at work with a pathologic fracture in his femur, and a diagnosis of Stage IV renal cancer. And I was driving a tall SUV and he was driving a Nissan Sentra, and he and his leg brace and wheelchair couldn't fit into either one of them, and I was ferrying him to chemo and radiation and doctors, doctors, doctors. Cut to a rush drive to Carmax to trade in my SUV and the VW Cabrio I had passed down to my daughter, she took her father's Sentra to college and I came home with a stunningly boring but roomy Altima. It could hold my husband and a wheelchair, so it served its purpose. And then he died, and I still had the damn car, because I had so many other ways to spend money the car went on hold.
I decided that this year the car had to go. It was four wheels of bad juju, nothing but unhappy memories and also not at all practical for my life - despite its size, the doors and trunk openings are actually rather shallow. Good for people, and I could heft a folded wheelchair into it, but a lot of things just wouldn't fit. So I've been casually shopping various dealer websites and Carmax, looking for the right vehicle for the last few months. I had my criteria - 4WD or AWD, because I work in a business of unpaved roads, small SUV, 1 year old so somebody else took the depreciation, and under 12K miles so it still had a lot of warranty left, and - here's where it gets tricky - I wanted to keep it under $20k. If you are willing to spend $24-26k and search on that profile, there are a ton of vehicles. But I am cheap and I wanted to finance this through my home equity line, because I have a ton of equity in my house and would rather pay myself back than a finance company, but that doesn't mean I would hock my house for a Lexus. I ain't stoopid.
So Thursday night I impulsively popped onto Carmax.com and of course there were no Hondas or Toyotas - if I wanted to spend $24k I could have had a black CRV with a black leather interior, in Florida. I can't imagine WHY someone traded in that rolling oven, can you? And then I saw the little Subaru. And I stared at it, and thought about it, and looked at the price (in my range, thanks to Subarus not being hip in this market) the age (check) the mileage (check) the equipment (check) and the color (RED! check check!) And I thought about it for a day. And then I emailed the Carmax sales guy and made an appt. to see it. And I saw it and petted it and brought it home.
I love Carmax, it's like going to the shelter to adopt a car. There is no bartering, no going to the little room in the back, the price is the price, they are totally upfront about everything you see, you test drive, if you love it you take it home. They gave me exactly what Kelly Blue Book said they should on my trade in. And I took a deep breath, wrote a big check and brought Baby home. The Altima of Bad Karma is history. Long live Baby.