Semi-More Reliable Transportation

on Wednesday, January 2, 2008



I bought a new car on the day after Xmas.

It's a 1992 Ford Tempo with about 173,000 miles on it. The Tempo replaced the Fairmont and preceded the Countour. It was the grandfather of the Taurus. Whatever. I found it in the newspaper listed for only $495, it was on some land a little north of St. Cloud. A guy named Larry sold it to me.

When I said I wanted to buy it he insisted that we transfer the title immediately. He said he had a couple of things happen that convinced him that was the best way to go. One car he sold wound up in the Hennepin County impound lot before the title got transfered. Another car was involved in a drug bust.

He drove me into Foley and we took care of it right away. It cost $38.50.

When we got back to his house he said he would knock $20 off the asking price because the muffler needed to be replaced, but that he wanted cash. I only had $75 on me so I said I'd go home in the vehicle I drove out there in (Jeff's van) and return with the remaining $400. He hemmed and hawed and finally offered to follow me in my newly purchased vehicle to my home where I would remit the remaining balance, he would then bring me back to his house so I could retrieve the van. Done and done, and pretty nice of him, if you ask me.

So now we're up to $513.50.

After a month of driving Jeff's van (thank you, Jeffy) I had my own car again. The poor old Aspire has seen its last miles, and it served me very well!

On Thursday I was able to get it to MG's Exhaust for the badly needed muffler. The old pipe scraped on the ground. That ran $146.

Now we're up to $659.50.

On Friday I drove it quite a bit, from home to work to downtown, and a few other places. When I was finally on my way home I smelled something melting or burning. On Valentine's Day in 2005 we watched Jeff's previous van burn down to a metal hulk and that's how it all started, with a burny-melty smell. I started to panic.

When I got home I parked on the street, well away from the house, the garage and any electrical wires. If it was going to burn, I wasn't going to destroy anything but the car. I opened the hood and saw a wisp of smoke climb up from under the battery. I grabbed everything I owned, including my guitar, amp and music (I left the tux) and headed for the house. And I had a PTSD attack. I thought my new purchase was about to go up in flames.

I kept looking out the window. The car was still white. It wasn't orange. It wasn't black. I called R&L Repair, George takes his Tahoe there and trusts them, I found out they're the best! Ron looked at it and thought it might be that the emergency brake had locked and was melting due to friction. When they got it up on the lift they found that the brakes needed to be replaced. If I hadn't brought it to them my brakes would have ceased up at some point, stranding me along the roadside. They were able to do the work that day and it ran me $291.94.

Running total of $951.44.

But that wasn't the only problem they found. The tie rod ends also need replacing, which will cost me another couple of hundred dollars, bringing the total so far up to around $1200.

Hopefully, I won't have to have the head gasket replaced or anything else major. There is a small leak in the transmission, but it's manageable. I am going to replace the spark plugs and plug wires, it could probably use them.

Fuck, I hate cars, but I need one.

This may be one of those purchases that comes back to bite me in the ass. It wouldn't be the first. I've already spent $1200 bucks, I really hope this isn't a little money pit. Well, even that would be a lesson, wouldn't it? I just have to keep reminding myself:
It's already broken.



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5 comments:

cjschuette said...

Congrats on the new vehicle, and also on remembering the number one rule of being a working musician: Always leave the tux. (Good advice anytime, really)

Mike Sawin said...

I have been going to R&L for ten years. They are just about the most expensive place in town to take your car, but they are really good, and extremely reliable.

One repair didn't go so well. I called Ron, and he moved things around to get my car in right away and took care of the whole thing at no extra charge.

In addition, the owner is a very nice guy as well! Even when I moved to Cold Spring a few years ago, I still stayed with R&L -- more than 20 miles from my place.

Jen said...

I had a '92 Ford Festiva that was a complete money pit.... blew a head gasket THREE times within a year. Took the sucker in and told the dealership to keep it and "just get me a new damn car".... totally a car salesperson's wet dream.

I wish for you much better luck with this one.

Cari said...

Brings to mind the stinking money pit that was my Nissan. Fucking car. LEMON-flavored money-pit. The unsellable, undriveable heap got donated to charity about a month after I finally paid it off. I still seeth with anger when I think about it. My sister always reminds me that a car is not an investment, it is an expense.

Nature66 said...

I've got a sweet Red-Flyer wagon you can have for a song!