Not my car! Raph’s car.
Photo: Raphael Orlove

My 2008 Honda Fit Sport had been a model of reliability until, a few weeks ago while driving back from upstate, I began to smell something, like plastic burning. I pulled over and opened the hood and saw a puff of smoke rise out. About $1,600 and several days later, I began to contemplate if my 10-year-old car was in fact well into its adulthood.

When I saw the smoke, I feared the worst, but the repairs ended up being routine. My air conditioning unit was fried and, on top of that, my front brake pads and rotors needed replaced, in addition to the brake shoes in the rear. All of which added up to $1,600, in large part because the air conditioner is so hard to get to on a car like the Fit, which stuffs its parts very tightly into the engine bay. And I was happy to pay that much especially after a local dealership had quoted me $3,100 for more or less the same work.

Photo: Erik Shilling

All of this was fine. It is routine maintenance for a good, reliable car that will hopefully last me many more years. It’s me taking care of the car, like you’re supposed to, so it has a long life.

Still, all of it was a reminder of the car’s inherent fragility, like when you break an elbow in your 30s playing softball. You should be able to safely play softball; you’re still young-ish, after all. But the seams are beginning to show. Maybe it’s time to scale things back a bit. Maybe it’s time for some self-care.

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The Fit’s still only got 60,000 miles on it, and the engine and transmission are in good shape. The rear bumper is pretty nicked up thanks to street parking it for years, like the gray hairs starting to emerge from my beard. Still, I think the Fit’s best years are ahead of it. At least they will be, as best I can manage that.

When do you feel like your car truly becomes an “old” car?