A year or so ago there had been a previous recall of Honda’s for airbag replacements. I’d heaved a sigh of relief when I realised my 1999 model wasn’t included. But now it seemed airbags in the older model had an unacceptable risk of deadly shrapnel being released from the airbag in an accident. Recall notices had been sent out by Honda. This time there wasn’t the option of having airbags refitted – parts were unavailable for older models. A buy back offer was on the table - $2900 plus $400 for costs associated in making the transition.
I was conflicted, it was a wonderful offer. I didn’t want to let go of my car, but at the same time, would be lucky to get $500 for it if I sold it. And, realistically, I needed a car that would be more likely to see me out, a ‘last car’, ideally another Honda CRV, but 10 years younger with lower mileage.
You see I love Honda’s – this had been my third. My previous favourite was a teal blue Honda Civic Station Wagon I drove during the 1980's and 1990’s, a model based on the original little Honda runabouts but with an extended chassis. I would still be driving this car if I could! Sadly, it never recovered after having flooded with oil by a servo attendant on work experience, ending up as a farm vehicle on my sister’s farm before being entombed in a hidden gully.
A few cars later, another very reliable Honda, this time a dark blue Honda Accord sedan with gold special edition badging from Pat Claridge's car yard. In an urgent quest for a replacement vehicle after an accident in which it had been written off, I found the white CRV at Laurie Lowen’s car yard. What a find! Reliable, comfortable to get into as knee and back problems kicked in, so easy to see out of and enjoy broad rural landscapes sitting quite high relative to the road. Although more recently items listing knocks in the engine appeared on service reports, they didn’t seem to be getting any worse and David didn’t appear worried. I didn’t want to let go of it, but had little choice.
The search began – for another Honda! I unsuccessfully looked through car yards in Shepparton. Encouraged by a friend to look on Gumtree, I found a silver-grey Honda CRV within my price range being sold in nearby Baddaginnie. Taking my sister with me, I inspected it. The owner and her sons showed it to me proudly, highlighting its ‘special edition’ features; that it was being serviced by a Benalla mechanic who did not think she should sell it, and more. The owner explained that she had driven it from Queensland to Baddaginnie, where, now living with her sons and rarely driving it, the money would help with extensions to their house. My instincts were that it was going to be okay. It would also meet my criterion of being 10 years younger -2009 - and having lower mileage - 148,000k. The price was also in range with the payout from Honda of $3300 factored in. Sold!
That’s not quite the end of the story, however. A few weeks went by before arrangements were in place for the tow truck to arrive to take my treasured white CRV on its final journey to the Honda graveyard in Melbourne. I drove it while I could still do so, each time enjoying the drive; each time wishing that I didn’t have to sell it. I reluctantly emptied it. The day came when the tow truck pulled up outside and I watched it being levered up the ramp and placed securely on the tray of the truck. I felt so sad.
I don’t think I ‘anthropomorphized’ my car - I didn’t have a name for it or talk to it - however I valued it highly. It had shared a decade of my life, been on so many adventures with me. It had carried boxes of teaching resources from Wangaratta, as I made the transition from working at GOTAFE to retirement; taken my mother on many happy drives when she was living at Alkoomi nursing home in the years before her death in September 2014; driven me to Albury/Wodonga for treatments when I had breast cancer in 2013; taken me ‘north’ to meet my half-sisters and nieces for the very first time in 2014; just last year taken me back to Sydney to see my 102 year old godmother, and so much more.
In fact, it had rarely skipped a beat in ten years. And yet now, to reduce the risk that a piece of shrapnel would enter my body if I had an accident which could lead to my suing Honda for millions of dollars, it was on the back of a truck, heading for a crusher and car graveyard in Melbourne.
The silver-grey Honda CRV special edition 2009 now sits resplendently in my driveway. It’s more glamorous than its predecessor (to those who care about such things) and is performing very well, despite limited opportunities to drive it far during the COVID-19 break.
I am gradually learning to trust it, to understand its features and quirks, yet still feel quite sad when I think of my old white Honda CRV sitting valiantly on the back of the tow truck as it pulled out of Monds Avenue on the journey to its Melbourne graveyard.
It just isn’t the same. However, one day, given my track record for becoming attached to my cars, I am sure it will be…