New car

Go read Jon Boy’s most recent blog post for the beginning of the story so I don’t have to repeat what he said.

On Saturday, Jon Boy was driving our Buick Regal (not the one with problems . . . we thought), and the front left wheel almost came off. It was missing one lug stud, and two others had broken off because of the extra strain on them. The remaining two studs were coming loose. Luckily Jon Boy pulled over at a gas station and called me to get a tow truck.  I ended up calling the same guy that towed our other car on Monday. I wonder what he thought of us.

Anyway, we had no transportation through the weekend. The dealership couldn’t work on the Cutlass until Monday, and now the Buick was also not drivable. Yesterday morning, Jon Boy drove the Cutlass to the dealership to get a diagnosis and an estimate. It stalled and had problems restarting on the way (a very short way, mind you), but it got there.

The diagnosis: a busted ignition control module and a busted crankshaft position sensor.

The estimate: $700.

At first we were a bit tempted to get the work done anyway. After all, we’d spent about $200 on parts to replace the air conditioning on that car, but because of its other problems and the fact we just barely got the parts in the mail, Jon Boy hasn’t gotten to replacing it yet. Also, $900 in repairs is still less than the cost of a new (to us) car.

But then Jon Boy checked Edmonds to find out what the Cutlass would be worth if we fixed everything wrong with it. Apparently we could get between $500 and $1000 out of it. The repairs would cost more than the value of the car. Besides, on a fourteen-year-old car with 148,000 miles, there was no guarantee that we wouldn’t have another major problem in a few months. We decided it was time to go car shopping.

Jon Boy had found a ’99 Saturn station wagon with about 80,000 miles on it over the weekend. We took it for a test drive and found almost nothing wrong with it. Things wrong include a small cigarette burn in the upholstery in the back seat, a few tiny dings and scratches, a mild scent of cigarette smoke, and possibly a windshield washer fluid sprayer thingy that doesn’t work. Pretty good overall.

Plus, it’ll get better gas mileage than either of our cars did before, and it’ll have a little more cargo room for when we go camping.

It feels great to have reliable transportation again, even if I can’t drive it much if at all until it’s insured. It doesn’t feel great to know we just spent a few thousand dollars.

At least I’ve got a babysitting job that should bring in some extra money this year.


  1. Well, there is slightly more wrong with the Saturn than that. The tires are fairly worn (especially on the back, where they’re about down to the wear bars), and it really needs a front-end realignment. But still, that’s really not much at all. And the tires aren’t urgent, since it just passed inspection.

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