As I have recounted, the first car I bought myself was a Ford Fiesta. I bought it mostly new, with about 200 miles on the odometer. I was so proud of that car, all shiny and green.
A few weeks after purchasing the car — it was still so new that it had the paper tags on it! — I was driving along some back roads in RTP. I swung around a curve, and there stopped in the middle of the road was a big delivery truck! It had come to a halt and was reversing into a business. Specifically, a business whose driveway was just around a blind curve.
Young reflexes and new brakes served me well, as I stomped the brake pedal and came to a quite abrupt stop.
For a while, there had been a car directly behind me. It was an older Mercedes SLK, a low-slung sports coupe. The driver clearly wanted me to go faster, as he was riding my bumper quite close…annoyingly close. As it turned out, dangerously close.
After slamming on my brakes and coming to a stop, the next thing I felt was the collision of my friend to the rear smashing into the back of my car.
I got out and asked the guy if he was OK. He said he was. The front of his car was well smashed up though. Strangely, the back of my car looked mostly fine; maybe some cosmetic damage to the plastic bumper cover. No big deal. I told him that we’d pull into the parking lot of the business whose delivery caused the problem to begin with.
We summoned the police (who certainly took their own time to arrive!) and surveyed the damage. His car was quite badly damaged, and I would not be surprised if his radiator was leaking. After seeing that my car was so new, he had the decency to apologize (I assume he would have apologized anyway, but the paper tags clearly made him feel extra bad).
There was no dispute over who was at fault (him). Thankfully, he had excellent insurance. They gave me a call right away and explained to me how they were going to take care of it all. To make sure I got it done right, I decided to take it back to the Ford dealership for them to fix. After all, it was a new car!
I got a loaner car (this was so long ago I don’t even remember what they gave me) while they fixed it up. It turned out that the other driver’s car was so low it went under my bumper and hit the spare tire well below the trunk. Although the car looked relatively fine, they had to cut out the metal floor of the trunk and weld in a new panel! It was a few thousand dollars’ worth of repairs that his insurance paid for. Whoopsies! I probably wasn’t supposed to know this, but his insurance agent told me that the repairs to his car were even more expensive. Which was not overly surprising, but I still winced at the thought of the damage to his insurance premiums.
A week or so later, I got my car back. It took me a while to notice, but taking it to Ford was actually not a great idea. They did an awful job on the color match for the new bumper cover; in sunlight, it was a noticeably darker shade than the rest of the car.
(I didn’t really give a lot of thought to it, but if I had considered I’d have realized that the Ford service center don’t make the cars; that happens in America’s Heartland (Mexico) where the car is built. Now, going to Ford to repair your Ford should be like going to the Apple Store to repair your Apple device: although they didn’t personally make the thing, they should be the experts on putting it right. But while the Ford techs are quite good at dealing with the mechanical aspects of the car, they’re not necessarily the experts at the cosmetics.)
The next time I needed to get the car’s body work done, I took it to Triangle Collision instead. They got the color match exactly perfect. But that’s a story for another time.
In any case, It was not a very long time between buying the car and the first car wreck in the car. I promise I’m a much better driver than that statistic would indicate!