Dreaming of a New Car

Lately I’ve been having mechanical problems with my 2006 Toyota Corolla (automatic transmission).  The exhaust pipe has a weird sound which turns On and Off like an act of magic.  Taken it twice to the repair shop with no positive effects.  This bothers me greatly.  I’m allergic to uncomfortable noises.

The other problem was a faulty suspension sphere.  It was replaced, no problem, but the bill was as huge as Mount Everest.  My pocket went bananas.  Then there was a problem with the suspension system on the left side of the vehicle.  It’s still there.  My budget has been strained to the limit.  No alternative, but to hold out until the wallet recovers.

After bumping into all these mechanical problems, my wife and I sat on the kitchen table to figure out if we could afford a new car and avoid future costly repairs.  We decided to go window shopping and find out what was available out there within our means.  A Hyundai Elantra model seems to be a good choice.  So we hopped into our Toyota and drove over to explore the characteristics of the South Korean Hyundai.

Below are several pictures of the dream machine and its price.  We haven’t made the final decision yet.  We would have to sell our current car and determine where to get the remaining unpaid balance.  We have to careful with this financial transaction.  Living with a retiree budget is like wearing a straightjacket, you don’t have much maneuvering space.  You’re stuck with what you earn, no COLAs (Cost of Living Allowance).

Snapshot of the front and lateral perspective of a Hyundai Elantra GL Semi full automobile, four doors and five passengers. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Notice the directional light on the lateral mirrors of the Hyundai Elantra. It’s a nice touch of class. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Snapshot of Raúl Paredes S., the sales executive, who assisted us during our visit to Petroautos, S.A., the Hyundai’s dealer in Panama. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

I’m not going to bore with the technical specifications of this beauty, except to say that it has a 1.6 lts motor, 16 valves DOHC, Dual CVT.  It has a power of 130 HP/6,300 rpm, electronic power steering, and automatic transmission. The warranty is five years or 125,000 kilometers—whichever comes first.

The price of the automobile is (drums rolling)…$19,495.00 including taxes.  Price includes tinted windows and a set of floor carpets.  There is also an extra charge of $167.16 to process the license plate with the Municipality of Panama.

I couldn’t close this blog post without thanking Mr. Paredes for an extraordinary sales performance during our visit.  All our inquires were fully answered and then some.  He even showed us around their installations, including the repair shop where service is given to their vehicles.  Everything was neat and organized.  We came out very well impressed with what we saw.

Now the ball is in our court.  Need to determine when and where the “greenbacks” will be coming from.  At this moment the project is placed inside “dream box”.  The next step is to make the dream come true.  That requires a lot of work and ingenuity as you probably know.  I can wait.  Over the years I’ve learned to be a patient man.  Good Day.


6 thoughts on “Dreaming of a New Car”

  1. Good morning, Omar,
    I am curious about “faulty suspension sphere”? Is that a ball joint, perhaps? Nena and I have old cars, hers is a 1997 Ford Explorer, mine an inherited 2006 Mitsubishi. I maintain both and recently replaced ball joints on the Ford. Here’s the photos:
    I was raised around tools and a dad who never once called a repairman or visited a shop. I think self-sufficiency was drilled into him when his dad died when he was 15 and he became the head of household.

    The noise from the exhaust is somehow connected to the anti-air pollution system probably. Air is injected into the exhaust by an air pump that helps clean up the exhaust gasses that pass through the catalytic converter. If any part of that system leaks, the exhaust “note” changes pitch.

    I don’t know how strict the laws are on car inspections there but it might be possible to bypass some of it for testing. You need a fairly knowledgeable tech to do the trouble-shooting.

  2. Morning Jim and Nena:

    I think the faulty parts were actually ball joints. They are exactly like the picture you attached. In Spanish they are called “bolas de suspensión”, thus my translation to “suspension spheres”.

    I know very little about mechanics and cars, besides turning the key and kicking up the motor.

    Your explanation about the exhaust system is quite comprehensive. I’ll have it checked to see if there is a leak somewhere as you suggested. The vehicle does have a catalytic converter, but in Panama we are not that strict in air pollution. Anyway I would like it to work properly and cooperate with clean air.

    Thanks a lot for your useful explanations. I can see you are a man who knows his way around mechanics and stuff.



  3. I thought “catalytic converter”, too, though my first thought was that it might be clogged rather than leaking. I had a faulty one in my previous Toyota, and eventually the noise wasn’t the only thing that started and stopped. A clogged converter can lead to power loss, and eventually it can lead to the car not running. It’s easy enough to diagnose – checking pressure in front of and behind the converter tells you if the thing is clogged and the pressure’s building up.

    I don’t have my maintenance records for the car since I sold it, but the cost of replacing a converter for my ’89 was minimal – I do remember that.

    Good luck with your search!

  4. Hello Linda:

    Thank you for your suggestion. Will follow your lead, since the noise is irritating. I just drove back from downtown and the noise under the car was driving me crazy.



    1. Hi Linda,
      Perfect description of catalytic malfunction; on some models, the computer continually “tests” for those pressure differences and lights the Check Engine light in the dash. I don’t know if the 2006 Panama models have that function.
      The cost of replacement in the USA is covered by an extended warranty mandated by the feds for all smog equipment. That could explain the minimal cost. The cost in Panama will probably not be covered and the metals used are crazy expensive. I found prices from $50 to $300+ in the US. Yikes.

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