I have been talking about all of the vehicle problems we have been having. We have been in the car bad juju zone for a bit. It happens, and, unfortunately, this time, it all happened at a not very great time for it to happen with being so busy with work, cash flow, etc. I am really hoping we are past that now.
We started with our 1996 Ford Windstar. We bought her last June (2013). This van has been a great van for us. Yes, we had to do some major repairs to her along the way (both front hubs, weld one of her trailing arms), but overall, hop in and drive wherever you decide to go. Perfect.
Over the passing of 2014, the front hubs started to go out, again, and her engine light came on with a code reading that was a bread crumb trail of possible causes of her ailments. I decided it was time to find something else before the van that had been so good to us ended up leaving us stranded somewhere or unable to get to work. We bought the 1999 Dodge Stratus.
The Stratus was a problem child from the start. After her great test drive and drive home, she began overheating with no forewarning: running just fine then, in a blink of an eye, overheating. We dealt with that and continued on. That is, until her transmission became a problem, refusing to shift past 2nd. Back to the 1996 Ford Windstar.
The tabs expired on the Windstar in June and, with the check engine light on, it would not pass emissions. We picked up a 3 -day trip permit ($30!) so we could continue to work and began chasing down her ailments. A few hundred dollars down that route and it became obvious that we were going to have to find something else. Crap.
At that point, pay-day was a bit away. We have been buying trip permits every 3 days, and talking about how we were going to get into another vehicle. Our last paycheck was supposed to be the one where we started making it between paychecks without struggling to come up with gas and food. Having dropped a good-sized chunk of that check into trying to chase down the van’s ailments, and having to buy $30 trip permits every 3 days really ate into that check. We were at the point where we had just enough money to continue eating until the next paycheck. Any money we would make painting curb numbers would have to cover the gas to keep working. This equals no cash for another vehicle. Double crap.
After talking about it for a couple of days, we approached the guy that I work with for an advance. I have an extremely hard time doing something like that. It doesn’t feel right. I don’t like it. I haven’t been working with him for very long and I honestly didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask for an advance. I also was stuck in a difficult situation with the vehicle saga. I asked Lance to talk with our employer for me.
The response we got from him was unexpected. He was more than willing to work with us and figure out a repayment plan that worked for both sides without it leaving us in a bad financial position. He also had the money he was advancing us the very next day.
This guy really is a great guy, and not just because of this. He is easy to work with, believes in communication (which I highly value), lets me pick which days to do what cleans when they have the flexibility, and has never batted an eye when I have scheduled days off with him. He consistently informs me how happy he is to have found me and what an amazing job Lance and I are doing. Seeing as we are doing 80% of his south end cleans, I believe what he has to say as not just cheerleader banter. I have to say this is one of the best working situations I have ever been in.
With the advance in our hands, we began the search for a vehicle. Craigslist is my go to. In fact, I’m not even sure how one finds a car anymore other than Craigslist, which is disappointing.
The vehicles people are offering on Craigslist at the prices they are asking for is pretty ridiculous. Yes, there are a number of vehicles on there with appropriate pricing for the condition of the vehicle, but so many of the ads are…well, bogus. A car does not run/drive great when it needs a head gasket, transmission, or some other major repair and is not worth the price it would be worth without the need for such repairs. Asking $2000 for a vehicle because that is what the “blue book” value is does not mean that your vehicle that is worth $500 because of the repairs it needs and condition it is in should get you $2000. Apparently, this is not the belief with many of the sellers on Craigslist.
We looked at about 5 vehicles in varying distances from us. It would have been more if the sellers were not such flakes. When I sell a vehicle, I don’t ask someone who calls about it and wants to check it out to come see it about a week after they call on it. Come now, or after I get off of work. Also, I would never dream of having someone come to look at a vehicle I already have another person coming to look at. It really chaps my hide to drive an hour and a half to look at a vehicle to find out they sold the vehicle while I was coming to look at it and didn’t even call me to tell me it was gone. When did people get so dishonest?
Anyway, I’m ranting.
So, yesterday, we went and looked at 2 different vans: a 2002 Chevy Venture and a 2000 Ford Windstar. I really, really liked the Venture but the guy really wanted a little too much for it. More than I was willing to pay, anyway. This was disappointing in a couple of ways, one of them being that this vehicle was only 15 minutes away from us. The 2000 Windstar was over an hour away. We headed up.
I have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about going to look at this Windstar. Yes, our Windstar has been great, I love the van, but they are also prone to certain issues that this seller knew nothing about. Plus, the mileage is a bit high…higher than what is on our 1996 Windstar. The Windstar we were going to see had obviously been well taken care of, and well used, but this didn’t alleviate my angst over the higher mileage. We took it for a drive.
It ran really great, drove smoothly, transmission shifted just fine. We made them an offer. They counter offered. We bought the van. It’s a comfortable van and it will do what we need it to do. Yes, I’m being cautious on stating it will go the distance for us. Our car mojo hasn’t been great lately so I’m a bit nervous about putting my faith in any vehicle until I have driven it for a bit.
So, we have a new (to us) vehicle. One that appears as if it is going to be another great van for us. There is definitely a certain level of relief that comes with this, but, as I’ve already said, I have not reached to point of complete relief, yet. Today, I will spend the day going over the different maintenance things on the van: oil, water, plugs, etc. to try to get a better feel for it and perhaps find that last bit of stress relief. I honestly am not expecting to find anything that causes me to worry over the purchase. I guess it is just my way of getting over the vehicle negativity that we have been in for a minute. My fingers are crossed, I’ve pleaded with the powers that be, and am holding onto hope. At this point, it is all I can do. Wish me luck!!!