So I've been thinking about cars lately. Mostly because the time has come where I absolutely must get mine fixed, or I must get a new car. I'm almost afraid to drive it in it's current state (I need new ball joints and control arms - which are apparently attached on my car, or I'd only need the ball joints). If my building manager will let me pay my rent a week late (with attendant late fees, of course), I can get it fixed at the end of the month thanks to the buttload of overtime I'm about to have. I really am afraid to wait much longer than that.
But I've been contemplating looking for something new, or new-used. I really can't afford a car payment right at this moment (at least not if I want to keep up the same pace I am with my other debts), but it might be better to think about a car that wasn't going to nickle-and-dime me over the next year until I can afford a car payment. After all, my car is 10 years old and has 151K on it. In addition to the ball joints, I need a belt, a thermostat, and an air conditioning compressor.
So I've been looking mainly at the Toyota Yaris, the Honda Fit, and the Chevy Aveo. They are all reasonably priced, all are small but not cramped, and all get good mileage. They all have their own drawbacks, however, the most prominent being that almost no features are standard - including AC. Living in Louisiana without AC in your car is a Very Bad Idea, but to get AC, you have to get a whole bunch of other things you don't want or need, like an mp3 player adapter (I don't have an mp3 player, and I only listen to NPR in the car anyway).
The other thing that bothers me is that a lot of cars have the spedometer mounted in the middle of the dash (between the driver and the passenger) instead of behind the steering wheel where it belongs. You have to take you eyes off the road a lot longer to look at spedometer over there than you do if it is right in front of you.
I'm also looking at used cars, and if I go that route, I'd like either a Camry or a Corrola. The only problem is that people who buy those cars hold on to them for so long that by the time they come on the used market, they aren't much good.
Any other suggestions out there? I'm looking for a relatively small car, that gets good mileage but isn't a hybrid, that is reliable, and that won't break me financially.