Sunday, November 11, 2007

Car Blues

This has nothing to do with foster care at all. It is one of the sorts of posts that I occassionally am annoyed by on other people's blogs. Many of the bloggers I read I feel that I have come to know. I start to care about the rest of their lives. Others though, usually ones I have found more recently, I read only because of the main topic. When they start whining about cars or talking about gardens I skip the post.

I'm going to whine about cars, so you might want to skip this post.

My 14 year old station wagon may have died.

We will find out tomorrow when we have it towed to our repair guys, whom I really like. I heard one time about a study where the experimenters did something to a car that was really easy to fix, unfastening a wire or something. They had a man take it to three garages and a woman take it to three garages. The man was charged nothing or very little at two of the places and "taken" at the third. The woman was charged at least $50 at each place. One time I took in our car that was making a terrible racket to our favorite place and the guy came out and looked and did something I did not see or understand, grinned at me and said, "All better! No charge."

So I like them. They've worked on our cars for 14 years. They have told us what has to be done for the car to be safe, and what we should do if we want it to last, and advised us on when fixing it might cost more than the car was worth to us. Last year we fixed my wagon. We spent a lot of money fixing it, but considerably less than we would have spent over the past year paying for a new car (or even a new used car). But now it is in sad, sad shape. The symptoms add up to something called "a blown gasket" which turns out is not just a metaphor for losing your temper. It is a real thing that can happen to your car and involves impressive quantities of white smoke. And apparently since I did not catch the problem before the billowing smoke phase, it is either an expensive repair or a REALLY EXPENSIVE repair. (And no, I did not pull over to the side of the road in a sensible fashion. I drove home slowly, praying that the car would not die in the street. In my defense, there really wasn't billowing smoke, just some white smoke coming out the back when there should be none. That and a truly excessive amount of jerking and bouncing.)

Hubby is agreeing that of course we need to take it to the nice car guys, but he does not think we are going to repair it.

I'm really bummed because I have been researching new cars. See, if we have to sell the property in Maine, the consolation prize was that I would get a new car. I was imagining nice, pretty shiny cars with cool features like hybrid engines and maybe even built-in bluetooth systems for your cell phone. I have looked at smaller, less expensive models which I would prefer, if I no longer had to drive car pool, and larger very grown-up and responsible-looking models that I would buy if I did have to drive around a pack of annoying pubescent humans. I even allowed myself to imagine that would be able to pick the color. I was very excited about that -- getting to have a real new car and pick out the color I wanted.

I am really a very shallow person.

In the end of course, I would almost certainly have bought something sensible and reasonably priced. I really wanted new though. Really. There's just something about getting to pick out the color.

But now the wagon may be dead, and we may have to buy a car, which we really cannot comfortably afford. So it becomes all about what is available used, and whether we should get an older model of a more reliable car, even if it has more miles or a lower mileage, newer car. And should we get one big enough for car pooling, or should Hubby be the primary driver of the new/used car and should I take his mini-van with the door that sticks.


Maybe one of the sensibly-priced used cars will come in a pretty color.

Or maybe my wagon isn't dead? Anyone have any guesses? It only has 105,000 miles, which is low considering it is 14 years old. It ought to be good for a few more years.


  1. Awww, you have all my sympathy! If you have to get a new car, I sure hope it is one you really love, because that will be the only consolation.
    (one the things I love about my Bald Man? He can fix a blown gasket thingy. He amazes me)

  2. Bad news: it sounds like the same thing I did to the Corolla several years ago. Something about not remember to change the oil. Ever. Deceiving hubby that I did it because I kept forgetting and didn't want to worry him and I kept meaning to do it but kept forgetting. Boils down to one thing: Bad Wifey.

    SOmething about a thrown rod or something except it didn't have rods, so it must have been a Valve Lifter. DOn't remember.

    But here's the funny part- it still ran. Didn't run well, mind you. Certainly not prudent for long trips. It sounded like a giant clock Ticka ticka ticka constantly loudly if it was running.

    We prayed really hard (we didn't have any money to spare at that time- were trying to help nephew) and angels held it together for almost 3 years.

    Pretty sad huh. I was always scared it was gonna blow. Seriously.

    Here's to hoping you get a pretty new car just the color you wanted...

  3. My Honda CRV is fantastic, if you need suggestions. Mine is a 2005, so not the current body style, and I really really like it, aside from when I'm merging into traffic 40 mph higher than what I'm currently traveling at. The body style that I have started in 2002 and has better reliability than the first body style (up to and including 2001). Just in case you're looking for reccommendations.

  4. That stinks! While I hope it isn't dead yet I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you find a new used car that is exactly what you want. It can really happen.

    We got a new used 2007 Saturn, yes it really is a new used car, that had everything we wanted. Well except for the chauffeur I keep complaining about.

    We've had Saturns before and have always had really good luck with them. That and their service departments are always great. Well at least in our experience they have been anyhow.

  5. Unless the rest of the car is completely thrashed, I'd suggest you spend the money on getting the gasket fixed. Even though it will be more than you could sell the car for, it will still cost less than what it would cost to buy a new car.


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