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Being the musings of Your Obedient Servant, Great Stone Face, moose enthusiast.

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Location: Northern Virginia, United States

I'm interested in humor contests, the Washington Redskins, the Boston Red Sox, the Washington Nationals, University of New Hampshire hockey and football, and Ohio State University football and hockey -- and, of course, moose.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Some Things Never Retire

If you own a car, it never retires. It may get sick and die, but it works -- fitfully or well -- until you sell it or junk it. Let's review our car situation. We are blessed with a station wagon, a minivan, and a sedan.

Minivan - This past Wednesday, I took our Honda minivan in for 75,000 schedule maintenance (it acually is 79,000 miles). We also had clattering in the air conditioner fan. Total: Over $600. Some stuff had fallen into the fan, making the noise.

Station Wagon - My wife usually drives our 89,000 mile station wagon. Last month, we drove the wagon to New Hampshire to visit friends for a few days. While we were there, we developed a slow leak in one tire. We took it to Shaw's. They pulled a nail out and patched the tire for nit much money. The car was having a little trouble starting; it cranked a while before starting up. We figured we'd fix it when we got home to Virginia. So, we drove from New Hampshire to Vermont to visit other friends. The starting problem didn't get any worse.

Then, after a few days, we began to drive home. Vermont. New York State. New Jersey. We were on the Garden State Parkway. My wife was driving, and the car started to lose power. With great effort, she steered it to an exit. AAA towed us to a Volvo dealer service center, closed because it was Sunday. Luckily, we have cousins nearby, who picked us up and took us in for the night.

The Volvo garage was overbooked and didn't get to the car until two days later. Meanwhile, we'd borrowed a car and driven home to Virginia. On Wednesday, my son and I drove back to New Jersey to pick up the station wagon. Its electronic throttle had gone bad. Total: Almost $900.

The wagon started up pretty well, and my son and I drove it back home from New Jersey to Virginia the same day. After we got it home, the starting up problem happened again.

We took the car to our local Volvo garage, then on Friday left on a pre-planned bus (thank goodness) trip to New York City for a few days. On Monday, our son reported to us the bad news by phone. The rear fuel pump had gone bad on the wagon. The part had to be ordered; the gas tank had to be removed to get to it. Total: Another $2,500.

So a week or two later, we're back home from our July travels and the coolant level light on the station wagon goes on; and stays on. We add coolant to the reservoir; and a couple of days later the light comes on again. This past Monday, I take the car back to the Volvo garage. Cracked coolant reservoir, plus miscellaneous other repairs. Total: About $400.

And, by the way, the service consultant says, did you notice your rear tires are getting bald. Took it to the tire store that afternoon. They recommend alignment, balancing, rotation. Total: About $400. Also, the light on the edge of the passenger door cracked and fell off.

Sedan - Remember we have a sedan as well? That's also a Volvo, with 90,000 miles on it. We'venoticed some hissing from the brake pedal lately and planned to have thet checked. Then, two dayts ago, my son was driving the car a couple of blocks from home, when the gears started grinding, and the car wouldn't move. He was able to get it to the side of the road. AAA saved us again, with a tow to the Volvo garage. Dead transmission. Dead. No re-built. Dead. Total estimate: $5,000. It would take 22 hours of expensive labor to replace it. Oh, by the way, the brake hissing? Broken brake booster. Total: Another $1,100.

So, it's been quite a few weeks. We are seriously considering not fixing the sedan and looking into some kind of trade, donation, or combination thereof, and getting a new or certified pre-owned car. What a way to enter retirement!


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