Remember the excitement of your first vehicle? Remember that freedom you felt, suddenly being able to get around without having to ask your parents for a ride?
And then, remember when reality set in?
For teenager Jordan Hayes, who lives with her parents in Morgan, that reality has hit with a vengeance. The 19-year-old is having her first experience with owning a lemon.
Welcome to the club, kid.
Jordan has tried her best to be a responsible grown-up. She works two jobs in Layton, and is a full-time student at Weber State University. So last winter, when she finally decided she was ready to upgrade from a beater car to something a bit nicer and more reliable, Jordan found what she thought was the car of her dreams.
Insert your own turned-out-to-be-a-nightmare joke here.
In February, Jordan bought a vehicle at one of the smaller independent car lots in Layton, for about $9,000. Her parents co-signed on the loan.
I spoke with Jordan's mom, Chris Hayes, this past week.
"Everybody has trouble with cars, I know that," an exasperated Chris explained. "But it concerned me as I started looking at all the issues on the Internet. A lot of people are having issues with these cars."
By "these cars," Chris means specifically the 2009 Dodge Journey, a mid-size crossover SUV, that her daughter purchased. Now, Jordan might have just gotten a lemon -- in which case, caveat emptor, and all that. But Chris suspects it's more than that. And judging from comments of Journey owners venting on the Internet, the vehicle is beginning to sound like the automotive equivalent of the Hindenburg.
Jordan's problems started with the coolant system. The vehicle started overheating, and mechanics haven't been able to fix the problem.
Did they check the thermostat?
"It has three thermostats on this car," Chris said. "And we replaced all of them. But that didn't fix the problem. And then we thought maybe the new thermostats were bad, so we replaced them all again."
Although the vehicle is still overheating, there is good news on the horizon.
"We're going into cooler weather, so it's not as much of a problem now," Chris said.
And while there have been plenty of other chronic problems with the vehicle, most worrisome is the engine's intermittent tendency to simply die, or refuse to start. This is the part that worries Jordan's parents the most, because it's a safety issue.
And then, of course, there's the foolish work-around solution Jordan has come up for refueling her Journey.
"She's stopped turning her engine off at the pump," Chris says. "Because she doesn't know if she can get it started again."
They've taken the vehicle to multiple mechanics, and haven't been able to find anyone who could successfully diagnose the problem.
So, why am I writing about this? I mean, all sorts of people have all sorts of vehicle problems, all the time. What makes Jordan so special?
I feel her pain. Years ago, I had an older-model GMC pickup truck that had developed this habit of occasionally refusing to start. I could drive it for a day or two, no problem, and then suddenly it simply wouldn't start. Sometimes it would be an hour later, sometimes it would be the next day, before it would start again.
I'd taken it to no less than four repair shops; not a one could fix it. Eventually, I donated the truck to a shade-tree mechanic. He spent a year trying to solve the mysterious problem. Last I heard, he'd given up.
Which is exactly what Jordan and her parents are doing. Giving up. They had the Journey towed to an area Dodge dealership, and at some point they'll sell it.
"With all its problems, now it's worth all of about $3,000, so we're upside-down in it," Chris said. "But we pretty much hate the car and are getting rid of it."
And what will Jordan get next?
"Well, it's not going to be a Dodge Journey ... I can tell you that," her mother says.
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at @Saalman.