Thursday, July 2, 2009

The End of an Era

Drag car.

This morning, I took my van in to my mechanic, The Lusty Wrench. It's a little hole in the wall place on Lee Road, near Cedar, in Cleveland Heights. They're the best, most honest mechanics I've ever met.

The airbag light has been on for a while (clockspring needs to be replaced) and there have been some problems of late with acceleration, which I had attributed to the slow demise of the transmission. Yesterday, they became more pronounced. This morning, on the way to the shop, they became really bad. I adjusted my position in my seat, and saw that the "check engine" light was on. It's unclear just how long it has been on and I simply failed to see it, hidden behind the steering wheel. As I drove on, the check engine light started flashing.

They called me back this afternoon, a mere $30ish of diagnostics later, to inform me that my car needed the following items addressed:

  • airbag clockspring - while airbags are really really nice, even nicer is having cruise control again for those long drives.
  • rusted out shock tower
  • misfiring engine
  • an outer tie rod end or two
  • rusted out muffler

Further, the transmission probably doesn't have more than 20,000 miles left in it, and the front tires look to be near the end of their lifespan.

They strongly encouraged me to look for a suitable replacement.

I'll pick it up from the shop tomorrow morning. Unfortunately, we can't start looking for a (used) replacement just yet. We'll be waiting until the state legislature manages to put together a budget for the next fiscal year. The proposed budget the governor put forward cut state funding to public libraries in half. As one of the last librarians hired by my library before the hiring freeze, things wouldn't look good if the proposed cuts went through.

The above photograph was taken while I was in grad school and taking a class in Columbus, OH, a 2 and a half hour drive away. I wanted to see just how much I could improve the gas mileage of the van. With the seams taped, window shut, and the cruise control at about 55, I managed 35mpg, a personal best. With the tires inflated a bit more, synthetic motor oil, and a bit more weight taken from the van, 40mpg seems quite possible.

How did I get in? Through the window, of course.

The van as I found her. The door lock that they broke.
Tracking the Voyager Another view.

This series of four photos show the van after it was stolen, in Baltimore, Maryland. Note the trail of transmission fluid behind the van and the hole in the transmission pan - I knew that there had to be a reason that the transmission hung so low in the vehicle - I didn't realize that it was a theft-recovery mechanism.

The minivan, Shenandoah National Park

In Shenandoah National Park.

Driving up into the Bighorn mountains

Shortly before we got stuck in snow in the Bighorn Mountains, in Wyoming.

The minivan, Manti-La Sal National Forest

As the über camping van, in Mant-La Sal National Forest, near Arches National Park.

Do Not Mow

Stalking old milestones on the National Road, near Frederick, Maryland.

View from the street

And finally, in front of our house, the first or second time we saw it.

I guess I should start looking for an "Obama 2008" bumper sticker now.


Jenny Kerr said...

It's always sad when the old car has to go! Ours died a few months ago, and we are now debating on fixing it, or buying a new one. It can be fixed for the DP on a new car (under $3500) but who knows what will go wrong with it in the near furture? I feel like I can't saddle myself to a high payment, and it seems liek unless we have $10,000 at least saved tword a new focus SES (our new car of choice) we won't get a payment under $200/mo. Looks like we are going to fix the silver bullet for now and keep squirreling away $800 or so a month until we can outright buy the focus. We'll get there one day, but hopefully before the silver bullet kicks out for good. Cars are SO expensive. Everyone says the prices have come down so much, but not on any of the economy sized sedans we want, lol... just our luck.

Karen Anne said...

Oh, poor car. What year is it?

I still have my 40 year old Ford, it's currently at the dealer's waiting for a part that they expect, cross fingers, next week. Every so often a repair bill scares me silly, but I just can't imagine getting rid of my first ever car (I feel like I'm tempting fate to say that.)

I think the old car gene and the old house gene are related.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

It's a 2000. It has 145,000 miles on it now. I was responsible for almost 100,000 of those.

Karen Anne, how does one make a car last that long in a place where they use salt on the roads? I agree that the old house thing and old car thing are related. I'd love to have a Model T or similar touring (convertible) car as my daily driver, but that isn't exactly practical. What I'd really love would be to have a car of the quality and prestige that might have been in the garage of this place originally, but there's no way I can afford that - something like a lower-end Packard or Cadillac.

Karen Anne said...

Mine spent, let's see 5 years with salt, 30 years with no salt, and 5 years back in salt land. No question, cars last longer where salt is not used.

My Mom's is a 1992 and has been in salt land all its life. I just had it repainted. They had to replace some of the bottom pieces that had rusted through.