Van Saga part deux

By Leslie Parks - Monday, February 04, 2013

I love the part that says, "Test drive. Sounded very bad."
Yes it did.

It quit a mile from home.  This is where we towed it to.
Runs good, just doesn't move.

A few years ago we had a van saga.  The driver side window broke and won't roll back up after being rolled down.  We replaced many parts and it never did really work again.  The little plastic part that held the controls never did go back together very well, so I just duct taped it.  This also kept people from rolling down the window and us having to take the door apart to roll the window back up.  The van was not my favorite vehicle.  I mean it says "mommy mobile" all over it.  It is also classified as a station wagon.  I told John I was never going to drive a station wagon.  Think National Lampoon's vacation when thinking of station wagon.  Not the ones now but old ones that are clunky and fake wood paneling.  But I think that "vintage" look is coming back in style.  Back to the saga at hand.  About a month ago I was telling John that something wasn't right in the van.  We had it fixed, it was cheap.  Then about a week ago, I told John something wasn't right with the van.  It clunked when turning and backing up, and it whined and "cycled" when stepping on the gas.  We took it to our mechanic who is wonderful with vehicles. He called right away, said, "I thought it was going to come apart on me."  Yep, that was our van.  The transmission was going.  This van that we brought across the border one night.  The van that still had kilometer odometer.  The van that hauled our buts to Montana multiple times a year, up to the ski hill, back into Canada and to the Oregon Coast.   The one that I spent over 6 hours a week every week hauling kids around.  That van that was so dependable and I had high hopes of lasting through driver's ed with 6 kids, was on it's last legs.  Actually just the transmission.  It had over 293,000 kilometers on it, 15 years old. Would we fix it?  Would we trust it to take us to Montana and back?  Tough call but in the end we decided that we needed a dependable van for at least 10 years.  I had hoped that my next vehicle would be a car but John was right we needed a van.  When looking at it, we could buy a cheaper van with the hope of it lasting 5 to 6 years and being the kid driven vehicle and then a car for me in a couple of years only to trade the car for the van whenever we were hauling groups of kids.  It started sounding complicated as to which person would be driving which vehicle and there was the possibility of hauling groups of kids for years.  So a van it was.  I quickly became accustomed to a van but really tried to find a SUV that might work.  Nope, not even a possibility.  I created a spreadsheet with the Make, Model, MPG, and features I wanted for each mini van on the market.  Then on a Friday we spent the afternoon test driving the different vans.  We found one that we were very interested in but they were asking too much for us.  Then I found one in Seattle and so instead of attending a Super Bowl party we headed down to Seattle to look at vans.  We had seven picked out but one was the best deal for us.  We came home that evening with a new"er" van. It was stressful and I didn't realize that I was clenching my jaw the whole time until today when it felt soar.  I do like the new van.  It has features that are a little more "cool": a sunroof, heated leather seats and automatic doors.  I know the doors are going to break from use and to open those things without the automation you need to be a serious weightlifter.  It's going to be good.  However it's not a BMW, my next vehicle hopefully will be a car.  Until then I'm happy in my mini van.

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