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Tales From the Motherhood in Batavia: Quest for car can leave you wishing you'd walked

Part one of two

My girl wants wheels. Whoa! And what a process that is, the quest for a “good” used car to reliably convey and protect your kid as she heads off to school, work and, in my daughter’s case, to our veterinarian’s office where she plans to “shadow” staff for a term. Holly paid for half of the cost of this new-to-her vehicle with her own money, hard-earned from years of neighborhood pet-sitting gigs. I’m so proud of her! And so glad the search is over.

I may have taught my kids how to check the oil in our cars only two short years ago, but since her big brother now is way up to speed on all things car-related (and probably figures he’ll be called upon to tweak any wonkiness out of whatever car she buys – he’s rebuilding an old VW bug), he told us to stick with notoriously reliable Toyotas and Hondas in our search. Focusing narrowed our options considerably (we scoured the internet: Autotrader, Edmunds and But still, what a grueling project!

After a few Saturdays of shopping, I took off work on a Friday. Time to get serious, I decided, and get this thing done. So we called dealers to double-check the Carfax report’s of the vehicles we wanted to see (no rebuilt titles, please!), and put some miles on my own car as we traveled, even to Downers Grove and Schaumburg, to explore our prospects.

I may never get the smell of one “bargain” Camry in particular out of my nose. Gah! That old car was in rough shape, too, contrary to the dealer’s pictures online. I drove it one short block before easing it back into it’s spot on his sketchy lot. Good gravy!

We were almost sold on a Honda, but for the funny noise the muffler made whenever it started. And another old Camry was tempting, this one a sweet baby-blue, but the interior was kinda shabby (a concern mostly because it inspired me to wonder how well the guts were maintained).

The steering on another Honda “doesn’t feel right,” Holly said, and so we crossed that one off our list, too.

By this time, my girl was doing a lot of the talking: “I’d like to see the Carfax, please,” she said, before we negotiated a price on a Camry on the same lot. She wasn’t in love, but if the price was right? She told them they were competing with a Camry with fewer miles. They met her price.

Still not sold, we resigned ourselves to the baby-blue one at another lot. But my girl was tired, so we decided to sleep on it. She slept, I searched, again.

Just one more look, I thought. Just one more.

This is the first of a two-part column. Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at


Note to readers

This is Part One of a two-part series.

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