So I did it. I bought a new car – a shiny new Mazda 3 four-door five-speed. I’m kind of in love with it, and the process was so much less stressful than I was anticipating. (I know car salespeople are known for being pushy, but Jeff Sutton at Paretti Mazda was low-key; genuinely friendly; and wrote long, grammatically correct e-mails answering each and every one of my neurotic questions.)

I had planned to limp along with the Honda until next summer – I’d survived all summer without AC and was hoping to drive the car through the cooler months. But then the battery died while I was parked in a pay lot, and it took a lot of frantic calling around to try to beg the parking lot people to not tow my car. And I went over with jumper cables, but even popping the hood is an ordeal (the lever to pop the hood broke off long ago, so now the process involves pliers and a flashlight and banged-up fingers and a fair amount of cursing), and the rod that holds the hood open is broken, too.

I got the car started again, and I probably would’ve still tried to keep it running – but then Ruby’s seatbelt started randomly coming loose. “Mom, I’m suddenly not buckled!” she would scream in the middle of traffic, and I would have to try to pull over as quickly and safely as possible to get her rebuckled.

And then the horn broke. It didn’t bother me at first because I really try not to use my horn too much – I hate people who lay on the horn if you wait even two seconds after the light turns green, and I also get annoyed by people who just use their horns in anger. But I forgot that horns can be useful in a situation when you want to warn somebody, to alert a driver that he or she is about to back into you. And in those cases, I couldn’t even roll my window down quickly to yell out something cautionary because my window is jammed and takes about four minutes of jiggling and sweet talk before it will actually roll down.

So. It was time.

Now I am almost embarrassed by the luxury of my new car. Automatic windows! Power locks! Airbags! Air conditioning! Shifting into third gear without horrifying grinding noises! And you guys: You can turn the radio up with a button on the steering wheel!

“Mom,” Ruby said matter-of-factly from the backseat (which she has yet to cover in her trademark design of crushed-up cheddar Goldfish, stickers and melted candy). “You should have done this a long time ago.”

And she, as usual, is completely right.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with my old car. Anybody want to buy a used Honda, cheap?