Son Cannot Tell Father He Bought A New Car

First, this is partly my fault.

When I met my ex-husband, I drove a 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, sky blue. It was then 1976. I usually took good care of it; vicariously, through a VW repair place Rusk Motors, in Worthington, Ohio. Every 80,000 miles, I would bring it in. They would hoist up the front of the car with a forklift, slide under and unbolt the engine, replace the old tin cans with some rebuilt ones (I think they are called cylinders), feed the squirrels, and put it back in. I was good for the next 80,000 miles.) At that particular moment, however, I was working three part time job and going to OSU. I needed a new muffler and could not afford it. In an effort to impress me, my future husband bought the famous “How to Repair and Maintain Your Volkswagen Beetle for the Complete Idiot.” He propped up the car in the gutter in front of my apartment in the pouring rain and replaced the muffler. Thus the part about becoming my husband.

This unfortunately led to two side effects:

  1. Because Volkswagens were so easy to repair, he became so overconfident of his ability to fix cars, that for the rest of our marriage, he fixed every car we had, no matter how long it took or how long we were stranded. He never bothered to take a class, read another book on auto maintenance, or ask for advice. He fancies himself the Macgyver -Survivalist- auto mechanic who can fix anything with some cardboard (gaskets) cookie sheet (under car protection from stuff that flies up from the road) duct tape, binder clips (those things from the office supply store that hold papers together), and old bicycle tires (belts).

  2. The second effect was that I became my handle: stunt driver mom. I learned to jump out of (and put out) cars on fire (3), handle cars whose wheels had fallen off while driving (2), and get the car safely to the berm after blowouts or rods thrown while driving down the freeway (uncountable.) I have spun wheelies in traffic with 3 little kids in the back seat because of his monthly routine of bleeding the brakes. Thus he became my “ex.” (I used to wonder if he was intentionally trying to kill me, but people tell me he was not.)

Now, we live our separate lives, 6 miles apart, and the three kids are in college.

Actually, there is a third effect: middle son is an aspiring stunt driver.

Okay, so my son needed a car. His salvage-title rebuilt Chevy Contour was so bad, he was afraid to drive it in the dark or the rain. He is a 23 year old part time college student with a full time job. I had noticed that stuff always broke during final exam week or when a major paper was due. It was wasting tuition and endangering his future. He was looking for a car loan to buy an $8,000 late model used car. I pointed out that with the financing deals and the first few years maintenance included, he might be able to afford a new car for a similar cost of ownership. He found one that fulfilled his needs, (room for big dog, ability to go on road trips) and asked “Is it worth $8,000 more?” We calculated the financing difference and I asked, "Is it worth $100 a month more to know that for the next several years, if anything goes wrong, it is NOT YOUR PROBLEM?

My son purchased a leftover-at-the-dealer 2012 Toyota (something that looks like a toaster.) He loves it. That was a month ago. He cannot bring himself to tell his father that he bought a new car. It would be a repudiation of everything his father believes.

How does he tell him, how does he go visit, he used to see his Dad every few weeks.

I may be somewhat like your ex-husband. I keep things going that should be replaced. I bought an Oldsmobile Cutlass 4-4-2 and drove it 33 years until I sold it in 2011. A spring was coming through the passenger seat, so one had to sit in a particular position to avoid being stuck. Sometimes, the carburetor had to be primed to start the engine. The speakers for the radio were shot and the radio sounded like 4 guys sharing the same sinus, but there isn’t much to listen to on AM radio anyway. I bought a new lawnmower in 1992 that I still use. I had to wire the mechanism that stops the mower when one releases the handle because a new cable is no longer available. I have to add oil before I mow, but the blue smoke coming out of the exhaust keeps down the mosquitoes. As a result, nobody would ride with me in the Oldsmobile toward the end, so trips in it were peaceful as I could go by myself. I saved a lot of gas with the car–when I would offer to drive, our friends would insist on going in their cars. My wife likes to mow but has had two foot surgeries and two rotator cuff surgeries. I tell her that a lawnmower is a delicate, expensive piece of equipment and I don’t want it torn up–I paid $100 for the mower back in 1992.
However, when it comes to our son, I worry about his safety and that of his family. When we visited them one time, his 1999 Ford Windstar seemed pretty rickety. Our 2000 Windstar was in much better shape. We cooked up this story that we were going to buy a newer minivan and we would trade with him, since his was worth about the same as ours. (That wasn’t far from the truth–the book value wasn’t much different). When he was ready for a better vehicle, we sold him the 2006 Uplander I bought at a great family discount price and I bought a new Sienna. My son supports his family on a teacher’s salary, so his budget is tight.
I would hope that your ex-husband would be happy that your son has a safe vehicle to drive. My brother and I grew up in a home where money was tight. We learned to keep equipment going as long as possible with rigged up repairs. This trait stuck with us for most of our lives although now we both are beginning to realize that we don’t have to live with junk.
It seems to me that your son supports himself and made an intelligent decision. His old man can live with the junk and your son can compliment his father on his ability to keep old things going. However, the son should tell the father that he wants the time (time is money) to complete his education and spending the time repairing junk is not his bag.

Don’t we all want our children to have more and better than we had? Don’t we want our kids to grow up so we can send them out into the world and see how they do without us? Don’t we (to some degree) want our kids to repudiate what we ourselves believe and have them find and make their own way? Seems like your son is doing just fine and Dad should be quite proud of him.

I make my living fixing cars. I also fix things forever. I recently repaired our 18 year old dryer fully expecting it to last many more years. My dad worked hard all his life to make sure he always had money to pay people to fix things for him. I don’t think dad looks down on me for getting my hands dirty while he worked in an office Is one better than the other? Nah, just different.

Tell son to go see dad. He’s going to find out anyway.

Looks like son has more common sense that dad! Time for dad to GROW UP. During WW II we lived in Europe and made our own butter, beet sugar, beet syrup, sausage, bread etc. Survived very nicely. None of our family members who remember those days does any of these now. We bake our own bread in a Zojirushi bread maker, mainly because we like the taste

I trained as a mechanic in the army and know how to fix older cars. Today’s cars require special tools and equipement (as well as know-how), which makes it uneconomic or impossible. Your son should be complimented for buying a “toaster” Toyota, likely a Yaris. It’s one of the most reliable and durable cars made! It won’t require major repairs for many years to come!

$8000 for the used car, plus another $8000, then your son has enough to get a new one? Your son bought a new Toyota for only $16,000? I think the dad will be proud of him getting such a good deal! Go ahead, tell the dad.

Seriously, the micky mouse repair techniques work great when you’re settled down a bit, have a safe place to work on the car, and have plenty of time to check out and redo whatever repair you do that doesn’t actually work. And have a second car. I’ve had the pleasure of bleeding the brakes on a 1970’s VW Rabbit every month to keep it on the road on a limited budget. Been there, done that. But I did all that with a place to work on the car and a second car for emergency trips to the parts store for the Rabbit parts.

Your son is a student and neither has the time nor the space to do car repairs. And he needs a reliable car to get to school on time. He needs to focus on his studies, not on why the engine won’t crank. It could argued that the better way would be a 3-4 year old Corolla or Civic, but at $16,000 for a new Toyota, what with the warranty and all, I think that’s even better. Good on your son. I expect the dad will concur. Just don’t let the dad have access to the new car’s brakes!

@asecular I’m not telling war stories. I’m saying that at certain times you have to be self sufficient when outside supplies are absent. The son is too busy to even attempt to fix his own car, and should get something reliable, which he did, and can now pay attention to his studies.

I’ve also roughed it in the Northern Bush, but with the aid of many modern tools.

My father-in-law was in the air force in WW II. I did get tired of the endless stories at the Legion, although he did get shot down twice and lived to tell about it.

He should sit down and tell the father about it along with the reasons why he did so.

However, there is one flaw in your statements and that has to do with the “if anything goes wrong, it is NOT YOUR PROBLEM”. That 's not necessarily true.

Warranty does NOT cover every problem; it only covers defects in material or workmanship. It does not cover maintenance, wear and tear items, or problems caused by lack of maintenance or abuse.

If the son doesn’t change the oil regularly or runs it out of oil any repair will be on his dime. If he runs the brakes off of it he pays for this also and the same premise applies to other areas.

If someone is throwing “uncountable rods” then someone is never changing the oil or running the engines out of oil while turning up the radio to drown out the rapping bearings. This bad habit could influence how Junior takes care of his car too.

“Uncountable rods thrown? I’m not buying a single word of this.”

+1 to asecular’s comment.
I am of the opinion that this thread was begun as an exercise in creative writing, and not as a factual account of either family dynamics or automotive experiences.

Regarding Blowouts and Uncountable rods thrown: Apparently the grammar did not explain the mathematical parenthesis correctly. (#blowouts or #rods thrown) = uncountable. Retread tires, tires purchased at junkyards, or for “rods thrown” as a general category to include other reasons why an engine would seize up while flying down the freeway: Adding water repeatedly to antifreeze, cardboard head gasket, etc., Eventually I grew up too and decided I had enough. Glad my son did it younger than I did.

@stuntdrivermom There is a difference between being frugal & smart and being cheap & not-so-smart. At least you got an education about how NOT to take car of a car.

Many panelists on this site operate their cars very frugally and get as much as 400,000 miles out of them without major breakdowns. They usually don’t go to dealers, who prescribe all sorts of unneccessary inspections and work. They patronize independent shops run by competent mechanics. They do some work themselves. I do very little these days but still “manage” the cars as to maintenance and sit down with my mechanic if there is a problem.

Your son will be smart enough to read the owner’s manual (the world’s most UNREAD bestseller)of his new car from cover to cover, and have all necessary maintenance performed that this book calls for. We will be happy to advise him what additional work is desirable as the car ages.

I don’t believe anyone on this panel ever had an engine freeze or seize up while driving the vehicle.

Congradulate your son on his very good judgement!

There is a difference between being frugal & smart and being cheap & not-so-smart. At least you got and education about how NOT to take car of a car.

Sometimes the dumbest thing you can do is be cheap. If someone buys a $500 car, but it quits, or becomes too expensive to fix, and they keep buying those cheap cars, they could actually be money behind compares to buying a new car. Buying a $500 car every other month is equal to a newer car payment/lease. Then again, you might find that the $500 car last several years.

Nothing wrong with working on your own cars. The important thing is to recognize what you can and cannot handle. That is the sign of maturity. Dump any guy who doesn’t recognize his limitations in mechanics or in life. Guys like that behind the wheel or under the family car put everyone in danger. You want to aspire to become a great baseball player or musician, fine. You want to aspire to be a mechanic or race car driver, don’t compromise the safety of your loved ones to do it.

Visit the dad. Dad will have to deal with the car issue. The point dad will have to deal with is son wants to see him and stay connected. Whether it is new car, a junker, or a skateboard makes no difference. If dad tries to make this an issue son can walk away and dad has to deal with the consequences.

I have learned over the years not to give my son advice because I am afraid he will take it and my advice is worth what he would pay for it.
I am really blessed with a great relation with my son. He does call with an advice on a repair problem. He supports his family on a pretty tight budget, so if he can avoid calling a repairman it means a lot. He lives 350 miles away, so it is not possible for me to go and help him do a repair. However, I’ve been able to talk him through some electrical, plumbing, and auto repairs over the telephone.
My son really isn’t into cars. His wife had a 1995 Ford Mustang V-8 with a manual transmission when they got married. Due to a back injury, she could no longer drive the car, so my son drove that car while she drove their minivan. Now I think a car like that would be perfect, but my son really didn’t really like driving the car. They sold the Mustang and he replaced it with a 2001 Chevrolet S-10 pickup truck. The S-10 is a 4 cylinder with an automatic. When I rode with him in the truck, I wanted to stick my foot out the door when we pulled away from a stop to help the engine get the truck moving.
Now despite my feelings about his trade, his reasoning makes sense. They needed another vehicle with automatic that his wife could comfortably drive. He wanted something that he could haul materials and purchases home from Lowes and other big box stores. He has to take the trash to a refuse center as they don’t have municipal trash pickup. (actually, the truck runs very well and my son had a trusted mechanic check the vehicle over before he purchased it).
Young people learn by making their own decisions. The father of the son of the OP should appreciate the fact that his son can think for himself.

Good post @Trideq. I can see completely your son’s reasoning for the S-10 pickup. Me, just like your son, I would rather have an S-10 pickup than a Mustang. Not that there’s anything wrong w/the Mustang, but the pickup is more useful. And pickups are sort of fun to tool-around town in. For me a manual pickup would be a better choice, a little more get up and go w/a manual, but w/the wife’s back problem, for your son the automatic is better. Sound like you have have raised a clear thinking lad there.

@asecular It was my FATHER-IN-LAW who was in the Royal Air Force and stationed in England. I did not know him at that time, of course. He took part in D-day (air support) and has a commemerative plaque of his unit somewhere in Normandy. We lived on the continent under NAZI occupation.

I applaud the guidance you’ve provided to your son and the inetelligent decsision he’s made because of it. As to when he tells his dad…that’s a purely personal call. He will when he’s ready. His dad should not take this as a reflection on him. It isn’t about him.

Asecular routinely attacks others for no reason whatsoever. Don’t take it personally. I don’t.