Praise the Lord! I got my car back today. In has been in the shop for nearly two weeks. There was nothing major wrong with it, just a lot of little things. But it is becoming very hard to get parts for it now because of its age. The car I drive down here is now seventeen years old. That is almost old enough for historical plates in the states. But down here, while a seventeen year old car is not common, it is not all that unusual either.
In Colombia cars are very expensive, often costing at least twice as much as a similar car in the United States. In some vehicles that cost difference can be more than three times the price of the same car in the States. There are no dealer incentives, no 0% financing. You pay cash or you donâ€™t buy a car. Loans, when available have interest rates between twenty and thirty five percent. As a result, we make our cars last as long as possible. I hope to drive this one for many more years yet.
I was quite concerned a little over a year ago. The government was talking about banning old cars from the big cities in an effort to reduce pollution. That meant any car with a carburetor, as mine has, would be banned. Finally someone convinced them that the very dirty diesel fuel was the primary culprit and not the few old clunkers still driving on the city streets. So my old clunker can still roam the streets of BogotÃ¡.
There are other advantages to driving an old car. Not only is it better stewardship of the funds you entrust to me for the work here in Colombia, there are practical reasons as well. I do a lot of work in very dangerous sections of the country and here in BogotÃ¡. If I were driving a shiny new car, that very fact by itself would attract the attention of people I try hard to avoid.
A new car cannot be parked on the streets because of problems with robbery. Thieves would steal the car or at very least steal parts off of it. But my car is old enough now, the people who still drive that model car will not pay much for used parts. So unless it is an essential part, there is little risk. Every now and then, someone does steal something, but it just does not happen that often and I do not have to have someone out there taking care of it while I am preaching or making calls.
The one draw back is that it does require significant upkeep. There are also the long delays in getting repairs as parts are hard to find. I will continue to drive my old car as long as the government does not prohibit its use and I can get the needed parts to get it fixed; in spite of the delays and the costs that are involved. That is still the cheapest way to drive and the best stewardship of the love offerings you send to us for the work here in Colombia.