The Ideal Vehicle

Yesterday Attila arrived home, and broke the news that the alternator had died in the little green car. This is the first serious problem that we have had with the this little car, a 1998 Toyota Tercel, that we purchased new. When we bought it we were stretching ourselves to our very limit. We could hardly afford to put gas in it at the time, so that we could actually use it. Even now it has just over 130,000 km on it. We have been driving that car for sixteen years, without any serious, or expensive, problems. But this problem, our first serious problem, will be its only and its last problem. Attila could not fix this, for a variety of reasons. It might be worthwhile for someone who is “into cars” to put time into it, but it certainly is not worth putting any money into.

We cannot afford a new vehicle, so we must look at used vehicles.

I have only purchased one used vehicle in my life, and it was a catastrophic experience. Within weeks the motor died, I was without a vehicle, and my money was gone. At the time I had no safety net, no money, no people to lend me a bit to get me by for while, no one to temporarily loan me a car, I was 100% on my own, except that I was supporting my two girls, who were in no position to provide any kind of safety net, they needed me to be one. This disaster was one of several simultaneous, crucial events that ended my career. I believe I experience what they call a classic FUBAR; not the undiplomatic phrase that came to mind! The car was a necessary part of my work, and without it I could not function at work. I had no options. The employer was not only unsympathetic, but hostile. Everything was not Okay; things did not work out for the best, it was just bad. So, buying a used vehicle is BAD, at least that is my very emotional gut response.

Our last two vehicle purchases were new vehicles, and that has worked out very well for us. But times are harder, and a new vehicle as a second vehicle is not a possibility. So, I have to move way out of my comfort zone, and consider a used vehicle. I am wayyyyy out of my comfort zone on this one.

We have known for the last few years that at any moment we might find ourselves in need of another vehicle. And so we have been looking, and looking, and looking. We found our ideal vehicle, which is a gas guzzler, but very well suited to our needs. We decided last night, that due to the fuel consumption issue, we would settle instead for an old “junker” that was good on gas. We found a good one, at a used car dealership near the little house in the city, at the same used car dealership as the ideal vehicle.

This morning I made the call to the car dealership. The old “junker” was in our price range, and we could pay for it without stretching ourselves too thin. There was a catch though, the car was not certified. We had decided that whatever we purchased, it had to be certified. I found myself making a spontaneous decision, I bought the ideal vehicle, over the phone, sight unseen, with a credit card deposit. We will drive to the little house in the city, at the end of November, to pick it up.

I wasn’t going in cold on choosing the vehicle or the dealership. This vehicle model has been our radar for years, and we had looked at this model in the past. There were many images of the actual vehicle on the dealer’s site, and a description of all the its unique features. Our neighbour at the little house in the city recommended the dealership. I asked Terra if she knew anyone who had purchased a vehicle from that dealership, and she knew lots of people who had. I then asked her if anyone had complained about the dealership, or the vehicle that they had purchased. She had heard no complaints. The prices at this dealership are competitive.

The ideal vehicle we chose was a model we looked at when we purchased our new car in 2010. We were looking for good gas mileage at the time, and so crossed that vehicle off our list. As a second vehicle though, it went to the top of the list. The model we bought is a 2007 model with high mileage, over 200,000 km (124,000 miles). The vehicle has been well cared for, and it is in very good condition. It is a Toyota, so if our experiences with Toyota are indicative, this vehicle will be reliable.

Down to the business of what we wanted this vehicle to do. It needed to pull a utility trailer and a camper trailer; the purchased vehicle will tow up to 5000lb. and it has a factory installed hitch. It needed to be reliable: the Toyota Tercel has worked for us for 16 years, fingers crossed this vehicle will be equally reliable. It needed to be in our price range; the price of this vehicle is a stretch for us, but we can squeak by.

The drawbacks of the vehicle are the low gas mileage, and the high mileage on the odometer. The low gas mileage is a challenge. Attila will mostly use this vehicle to travel the 5 km to work, and the 5 km back home again; 60 km per week. That should minimize the fuel needed to run it. The high mileage on the odometer may or may not be an issue, it is a crap shoot. After reading a lot of the reviews for this vehicle, we feel that there is a good chance that this will be a reliable vehicle for four, maybe five, maybe more years.

With this ideal vehicle we will be able to reduce the number of trips to the little house in the city. Attila will have a highway worthy vehicle that can easily make the trip, and can visit the little house in the city according to his own time schedule. Our travel schedule will become much simpler.

With this ideal vehicle we will be able to haul items with a utility trailer. It will allow the freedom to pick up firewood, when it is offered free for the taking. It will accommodate moving bulky building materials by utility trailer, to the the little house in the city, as further renovations are undertaken. It will allow the movement of furniture and bulky household items to the little house in the city. If and when we manage to move to the little house in the city, it will allow us to move our belongings at our own pace.

And the big, big, big bonus, this ideal vehicle will tow a small camping trailer, so that we can stay at the camp in the summer!!!!! If I am honest, the trailer hitch and the camping trailer possibility was the tipping point in the decision for me. This seems worth the financial struggle. I have my finger’s and toe’s crossed that we don’t get burned on the purchase.

Now, all I have to do is get busy robbing Peter to pay Paul. I have my work cut out for me!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

12°C
Date: 12:00 PM EST Tuesday 11 November 2014
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 11.7°C
Dewpoint: 5.5°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: SSE 15 km/h

Quote

“Five missing teenagers have been found on an island in Reindeer Lake in northern Saskatchewan.”
Source: CBC

It took me by surprise this morning, when I read this news, to find tears welling up. We have lost one friend to the elements in the bush, and one member of the extended family. Both tragic, haunting, and sad events.

11 Comments

  1. Maggie:

    My car is nearly 15 years old. It’s never caused me one iota of problem. It’s a city car, a 4-door sedan, an Acura, which I believe is constructed by Honda. It was purchased while I was still in California. It looks a little ragged, but much like I don’t believe clothes make a person, paint sheen doesn’t make a car.

    My youngest is quite sensible, too. When his grandmother (my mother) offered to buy him a new car (after a used car disaster), he chose sensibly. She offered to buy anything he wanted. In lieu of a fancy and flashy streamlined BMW, for example, he chose a Ford Focus with no bells & whistles. The Focus he chose has roll up windows and manual locks! I was so impressed with his choices – and that he didn’t take advantage of my mother’s generosity. BTW, I was uninvolved and mum throughout the entire process. He’s a nifty kid.

    My car has about 150,000 miles. I change the oil. I rotate the tires. I coo sweet words of gratitude. Patches of paint are being rubbed away by the elements. It has a numerous pocks & scratches left from parking lot dings. The defroster is horrible – I invent new cuss words each winter! But I love my car. It’s the finest, longest-lasting relationship I’ve ever had. *sigh*

    Wishing you the best of luck with your new wheels. They do indeed make our world go ‘round. xo

  2. Reenie, I laughed out loud that your car is the finest, longest-lasting relationship you have ever had!!! What a great sense of humour you have!

    Where we live the roads are salted six months of the year, so that the metal in the car is exposed to a lot of salt, and rust is a significant problem. Our little car is unfixable by us mainly due to various metal rust issues, and we can than our severe winters and salted roads for that! Vehicles lasting for sixteen years here are considered quite hardy. Our little Tercel has roll up windows and manual locks, we will be missing it!

    Honda’s are good! Luna and Janus rely on Honda’s, as does my sister. The old “junker” we first chose, that was not certified, but a good deal otherwise, was a Honda. Toyota has been good to us so far, but with a used car you just never know the whole of what you are getting, so fingers crossed.

  3. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Heh. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

    This is exactly howcwe ended up having to replace my previous car, it was going along so well and suddenly it started having expensive problems that weren’t worth putting money such an old car.

    Glad you found something that will fit so many needs for you! Wishing you all the best with your new purchase!

  4. Thanks Teri! Old cars do get to a point when they just cost too much to keep on the road, we are hoping to sell the old car to one of the local fellows who fixes cars as a hobby, he has the time and the tools for it.

  5. NORA

    Maggie,

    We had a used Toyota that was a good little car. It was such a smooth handler. But one day it died. We could not afford to fix it and we donated it.

    We have a used car now that has had problems since our purchase but we have been lucky. The man we purchased it from was kind enough to go halfs on the repairs! Unheard of.

    The car is built like a tank. It’s a Buick Riviera and I think a 1995. Its been well taken care of. For a car this old it has a lot of interesting features.

    I hope your ideal car gives you years of good service. I laughed too at Reen’s longest relationship.

  6. Wow Nora, a 1995 car that is still going strong, fantastic! It really goes to show you that salted roads are really hard on vehicles, as up where we are cars rust away over time, while everything else keeps working in them.

    One of the things we are hoping is that this new vehicle will not need much work. It is the biggest vehicle we have ever owned, and everything on it costs more, tires etc., and it uses more fuel. This might be a big mistake on our part, we won’t know until we get into it. Attila was considering a pickup truck, but I balked at the idea, as they use even more gas than the vehicle we bought. We are trusting the reputation of the used car dealer, that the new vehicle was well cared for and will provide us with good service and low repair bills.

    Yes, Reenie’s “longest relationship” is hoot, what a gal!

  7. NORA

    Maggie,

    In NY our cars always rusted out. That is one of the beauties of CA living….your vehicle is never going to rust! In NC we have mild winters.

    When will you have the new vehicle?

  8. Nora, we pick up the new vehicle the week of November 24th, the exact day to be mutually agreed upon soon. That gives me enough time to do a little bit of money shuffling. I just got the CarProof report on the vehicle, clean as a whistle, and so it goes as I dot the i’s and cross the t’s.

  9. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Glad to hear you got the CarProof report. When I was younger we would take a used car we were considering buying to a mechanic we knew and have him give the car the once over. In a way CarProof somewhat does the same thing.

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