Your Mom might be dead.
Because that's the name of my car.
Friday night I was in Manchester. I was out with some friends and, getting back in to my car, it wouldn't start. I mean nothing. Not even trying to turn over. Sit and wait, try again... this time it's just made a very loud, very fast ticking or something like it. But still not trying to turn over. Sit, wait, third attempt... same noise but it's now trying to turn over! And it does! It's running, but sounds very rough.
At this point I notice the oil light is on, so I turn to car off. That's when one of my friends notices the giant oil puddle on the ground. This must have happened during this whole starting business and not before, because it was running away from the car... and it if it had happened before, it would have already ran to wherever it was running too.
I have not recently had an oil change, nor was there any symptom or apparent cause on the ride in to Manchester. Didn't hit anything, not even a significant pothole. Couldn't tell where exactly the oil was coming from, but we did have the hood open while trying to start it, so it's unlikely to have come from anywhere but below.
Anyway, I was lucky enough to be with someone that had AAA+, so I was able to have it towed the very long distance back to a mechanic near my parent's house. So I'm staying with them a few days while I figure this out. The mechanic will open up tomorrow morning and hopefully figure out what's going on.
If this is something relatively minor/inexpensive/stupid, I'll pay to have it fixed. The problem comes from that I know my car is going to probably need a head gasket replaced sometime in the near future, and that's expensive. So if this incident equals a second expensive repair, it's not worth it. I won't pay to fix it and probably my only option at that point will be to donate it for a tax write-off. I've already researched charities in the area that will accept non-running cars, so no issue there.
As for a new (used) car, this is not the greatest time to pony up for that... but if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. For some time now, I've been thinking a Toyota would be a smart bet for my next car. After oodles of research, I've found this:
2005 Toyota Corolla CE
-Sold by dealership where I've already bought a car, and that may give me leverage
-Pretty low price at under $12k. With what I plan to put down ($2500-ish) and a long-term finance, I may even be able to get the car payment below $200 a month.
-Again, the long-term finance. Need to be 60 or 72 month, so I'm gambling that money will be better in a year or so and I'll be able to pay it down more quickly than the term. But this is necessary if I don't want a car payment to stretch me too thin financially.
-A few more miles that I'd like on it at 36,000... but still lower than any car I've bought before. 36,000 miles on Toyota may not be that big a deal, especially considering I'd ideally be looking for something in the area of 25,000 anyway. There are similar Corollas with that mileage around, but a few thousand more. I think the savings on this might be worth it.
-Uh, I don't like the color. But I have the same color car now, so apparently I can deal with that.
Of course I'm ahead of myself, but I'm determined to be prepared in the event of a worst-case-scenario.