Cars and the lies they tell you

I think my husband and I have the worst luck when it comes to buying cars.  The last two cars we have bought have been headaches.  That is actually saying it gently.  They have been a serious source of frustration and deep disappointment.

In 2005, we bought a Dodge Grand Caravan.  It was all wheel drive, had everything we were looking for and the price seemed right.  Within a month, we had it in the shop because it wouldn’t start.  “Oh, you will need to replace the fuel pump” was the first thing the mechanic told us.  Two fuel pumps later, the car was still being a pain in the butt.  Sometimes it would stall while you were driving.  And it didn’t matter if you were going 10 or 55 mph.

The driver’s side window quit rolling down within six months.  I thought it wasn’t worth the 400 plus dollars to put into fixing the motor for the window, so I was stuck with a window that wouldn’t roll down.

About the same time, the windshield wipers quit working.

The first summer we had the van, the air conditioning went out.  I went to get it charged, but still no cold air.  I couldn’t roll down the window, I couldn’t sit in air conditioning.  I was stuck with a giant hot mess.

By now, you are probably thinking “Why didn’t you look for something else?”.  We were on the hook for this stupid van.  And every time I got it fixed, I said “You can’t buy a new car for —dollars”.  Seriously.  I should have traded it in before the next ball dropped.

I finally broke down and took the van to a Dodge dealership where I found out that it had been a computer problem all along.  Something had been amiss with the main computer and it had to be replaced.  $1000 to fix the main computer.  And this is after we had put in two fuel pumps, spark plugs, belts, recharged the air conditioning, and probably a list of other things that I can’t remember (or choose not to).

The van was great for the next two years.  It drove like a champ.  Pulled a small boat to several different destinations.  Brought home our third child from the hospital.  Last summer, the van took a turn for the worse.  The power steering was going out.  The van needed a new battery.  The tires were worn, especially on the left side-which meant that something else was wrong with the alignment or axles.

We started looking.  I really didn’t want to get another van.  I wanted to get something a little “cooler”.  Something a little more hip then a van.  Vans were so ten years ago.  Now it was time to upgrade to a crossover.

One of my dad’s friends was looking to get rid of his car at the same time we started looking for a new car, and it just happened to be a crossover.  It was a Chrysler Pacifica.  A beautiful car.  I told my husband that if the car was a man, he would be waaaaaaaay out of my league.  The car was stacked, chalked full of every extra Chrysler probably offered with the car.

So, I took the steps to buy the car.  I went and got a loan from the bank.  We got ready to say our good-byes to the beast (aka the van).  The van went on to greener pastures by being donated to the Courage Center.

Within a month, things began to go wrong.  The tailgate quit opening.  The motors used to operate the tailgate were worn out and needed to be replaced.  Guess what?  It was going to cost over $500 to get it fixed because they didn’t have to replace one motor, but two.  Then we started to notice that the gas pedal stuck.  When you pressed down on the gas pedal, there is a sudden jerk before you really get going.

I think that we didn’t really think through our purchase to begin with and were like deer in the headlight by all the glamour this car gave off when we were test driving it.  I really didn’t believe that we could drive a car like this.  It was above our league.  We were van people.  We were Chrysler Pacifica people.  I mean that car had commercials with Celine Dion in them.

Yesterday might be the straw that breaks the camels back.  A week ago, I started noticing that the car was making some weird sounds when I turned.  Then I noticed that the front end of the car, the bottom part, had come detached from the rest of the car.  It was stuck on with clips, almost like you could just snap it back into place.  Well, we did that.  Or so I thought.

I was driving my kids to the dentist when my son asks me about the panel that was falling off.  I told him “Oh, it will be fine.  As long as it doesn’t fall off while I am driving”.  I guess I should have knocked on the fake wood in the car because, and I am not joking, within 30 seconds, off it came.  One fog light flying in the air and the rest stuck miserably underneath the car.  I quickly stopped the car and went out to inspect.  Nothing seemed to be too damaged.  It was mostly cosmetic.  I pulled the part from under the car, stuck it in between all of the seats  and took the kids to their appointments.

Maybe I am an idiot when it comes to cars.  I don’t have this sense of when a car is about to puke.  I can’t go the dealership and buy a new car when one vomits all kinds of mechanic work on me.

Who knows what the future brings.  Maybe we will be blessed with a car that will last us until our youngest daughter can drive it.  I guess only time will tell.  Just don’t ask me.


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