Hammer Time: College Cars

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Freedom. It’s a blessing and a bitch. As graduates of the 21st century, the average Jane and Joe are loaded with expectations aplenty. Cell phones, computers, and iPods® are a given these days. Credit cards? Perhaps only for gas and groceries. But that’s on the list also. The expenses of the young are laden with a thousand cuts of consumerism. But none of them compare to the cost of a car. So, what should all the members of the family do? Think. Think. Think.

What you do should be a reflection of the type of person you’re doing it for. Has the student been academically successful? Ambitious? Are they easy going and laid back? Or loaded with more hormonal imbalances than a Sweet 16? If he/she/it is the best of all things, a late model used car may really not be a bad thing. There are plenty of folks in their thirties and beyond who were able to put their best feet forward in their college years by having a car that was reasonable to maintain and even fun. They may not have been given a new Mustang convertible and taken over their family’s business, but they were able to establish their own merits throughout life despite having something a little nice given to them before college. Rewarding good work in this respect is not really a bad thing. It’s worth considering.

Accidents? Were they reckless? Does this person average two to three dope slap moments a day? B average? Remember, in many schools today’s B is yesterday’s C. Those who may have a few strikes against them may require a car whose cost isn’t so much on the higher side. A hand me down Plain Jane Ford Taurus, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry may be perfectly fine. If they keep up with it until junior year and get good grades, then you can revisit the idea of a nicer car at that time. Or perhaps a later time. Of course the non-enthusiast may be more interested in a nice bike or a cheap place to live off campus. Again, this is all worth considering.

If he/she/it is not going to college or receiving some type of professional training (military service, police work, vocational schools) . . . they pay the gas and the insurance . . . and the car. It’s that simple. Life will be far less brutal if they take responsibility for their behaviors with their own money from the get go. Some will succeed outside the college or pre-professional route. A lot of others will be stuck in minimal wage and unemployed ruts. The less money involved when they dig themselves into the ditch. The easier it will be to help get them out, and back in the real world.

Finally, remember it’s just a car. Their footwear is going to have a bigger impact on their life than the car they drive. In fact many of them may not even want the car after the freshman year or will gladly exchange the “car” for some off-campus housing that is far less costly. Since we’re in a recession and people are less car-centric these days, the need for four wheels is not necessarily a given. If money is tight and college is a must, plan accordingly. Some of the best plans can be laid to waste. But they pale to the waste that comes with giving someone the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Ruckover Ruckover on Jun 20, 2009

    Wolven, no one thinks everyone is equal, but there is the idea that we all possess rights equally. Would you mind telling me how we choose who is too ignorant to vote (ignoring that this was deemed un-constitutional, but I am sure you are not ignorant of that; you are just saying that it would be better if there was some limit to who gets to participate in representational democracy). I have four college degrees, so do I get to declare that ignorant people are those with fewer than three degrees? I have studied three languages, but a friend of mine is fluent in five and can get by in two more, so do I lose the vote for this lack of language skills? I know many people who have higher IQs than I do, though they might have fewer degrees, so do I again lose the vote because of my IQ?

  • Wolven Wolven on Jun 21, 2009

    Ruckover, Good points and questions. My method of determining who was too ignorant to vote would be some sort of test, kinda like an SAT mixed with an IQ test or something. EVERYONE takes the test when they turn 18 (voting age). The top 51 percent of Americans get to vote. The lower 49 percent don't. As new people score in the upper 51 percentile, they bump the borderline people down into the lower 49 percent, and consequently they lose the right to vote. Everyone can take the test again ONCE each year if they want to try to move up. Those that seek to improve themselve WILL move up, the blissfully ignorant wont.

  • Dave M. IMO this was the last of the solidly built MBs. Yes, they had the environmentally friendly disintegrating wiring harness, but besides that the mechanicals are pretty solid. I just bought my "forever" car (last new daily driver that'll ease me into retirement), but a 2015-16 E Class sedan is on my bucket list for future purchase. Beautiful design....
  • Rochester After years of self-driving being in the news, I still don't understand the psychology behind it. Not only don't I want this, but I find the idea absurd.
  • Douglas This timeframe of Mercedes has the self-disintegrating engine wiring harness. Not just the W124, but all of them from the early 90's. Only way to properly fix it is to replace it, which I understand to be difficult to find a new one/do it/pay for. Maybe others have actual experience with doing so and can give better hope. On top of that, it's a NH car with "a little bit of rust", which means to about anyone else in the USA it is probably the rustiest W124 they have ever seen. This is probably a $3000 car on a good day.
  • Formula m How many Hyundai and Kia’s do not have the original engine block it left the factory with 10yrs prior?
  • 1995 SC I will say that year 29 has been a little spendy on my car (Motor Mounts, Injectors and a Supercharger Service since it had to come off for the injectors, ABS Pump and the tool to cycle the valves to bleed the system, Front Calipers, rear pinion seal, transmission service with a new pan that has a drain, a gaggle of capacitors to fix the ride control module and a replacement amplifier for the stereo. Still needs an exhaust manifold gasket. The front end got serviced in year 28. On the plus side blank cassettes are increasingly easy to find so I have a solid collection of 90 minute playlists.