Few Clouds 37° Good Morning
Few Clouds 37° Good Morning

The trials of learning to use my new car

Long Islanders registered 3 percent more new cars

Long Islanders registered 3 percent more new cars and trucks in September than a year earlier, a new report shows. Photo Credit: iStock

When my 1999 Honda Civic conked out earlier this year on Glen Cove Road, just turned itself off without warning, I felt it was time to get a new car. But it wasn’t easy. Just as people have a tough time saying goodbye to loyal pets, so it was with me and my once shiny-green automobile.

We were together nearly 20 years and never had an argument. It had only 52,000 miles because I used it mostly locally, and I rode my bicycle to work each day. But its paint was peeling and everything else started to go. Unlocking the front door was frustrating. I’d would twist the key and the lock would pop up, but then drop again. It would usually open on the third attempt. My battery died in 2014, and the radio petered out. The owner’s manual told me to press a series of buttons to fix it, but I had no luck. I didn’t want to spend $600 for a new radio, so I drove without enjoying my oldies station.

I did research on new cars, talked to friends, and settled on two finalists, both of which were very impressive. It was like voting for Miss America: The runner-up looked pretty good, too. Then I decided the winner was . . . a Honda Civic!

Why? I was comfortable with that model, it had a good track record, the dealer offered me $750 for my old Civic (I would have taken 10 bucks), and I could drive it off the lot the day I bought it.

The new car’s “Modern Steel Metallic” (silvery gray) color drew raves from friends, but it took me awhile to get used to the vehicle, my first new car in the 21st century.

Looking at the accessories, I felt like I’m Rip Van Winkle awakening in an age of incredible technology — including a radio that not only worked, but identified the songs. My oldies sounded better than ever!

However, the key fob that controls the door locks and pops open the trunk took getting used to. After buying the car, I unlocked the door, drove down the highway toward my house, gazed in the rearview mirror and saw that my trunk was open. Not a good start. I pulled over onto the shoulder and shut it.

After about five months, the vehicle still has that new-car smell, which ranks right up there with new-baby smell.

I hope I’m not being overprotective. Before climbing in recently, I felt the urge to take off my shoes. At CVS, I parked next door in the Starbucks lot because I felt it had a smaller chance of getting hit. When I went to the supermarket, I left my place on line to go out to the parking lot to make sure the other cars weren’t picking on mine. When I mowed the lawn, I moved the car down the street first to avoid spraying it with clippings. I’ve done everything but burp it.

Then one day, my worst fears were realized: I emerged from the YMCA in Glen Cove to discover a scratch on my door. Oh, no! I was crestfallen. Then, with the key fob, I tried opening the door. It didn’t open. I tried opening the trunk. Nothing moved. Then I realized I was standing next to the wrong car. I looked around: Lots of silvery gray cars in this parking lot!

I strolled up the lot and found mine. It was easy to locate. It was the only car with its trunk open!

Reader Saul Schachter lives in Sea Cliff.