Monday, July 18, 2016

New Van

We were without a mini-van for almost three weeks once we returned from Utah. The transmission started to act up when Ben drove home from the Chicago airport. A good cleaning from our local auto shop gave it a nice temporary fix, but Ben didn't want the kids and I driving in it. So he took it to work each day and we crammed in his little sedan. It wasn't as bad as I'd have imagined -- other than the restricted travel. I couldn't fit Reid in his booster seat (next to his two sisters' carseats) so I didn't take the freeway (or even any higher speed highways), which restricted us to just a few mile radius around our house.

Shopping for a new van turned out to be a real headache. We began our search the first nights I was back in Oshkosh. We paid Sam (our neighbor) to come babysit while we went and test drove a few different Dodge Grand Caravans. But none of the first three cars we drove shouted "buy me!" Plus, I just didn't know which of all the little used car dealers I should trust.

I knew I trusted the guy who owns the auto shop and used car lot we frequent here in our small community, so I finally sat down with him and gave him an idea of what we were looking for. Then I waited almost a week to hear back from him. That got me looking on my own again -- which sparked Ben to start looking on his own again as well.

During our second big search we went to two larger dealers and a mid-sized guy (and drug the kids along with us -- that babysitter money disappeared real fast). We really liked the idea of supporting small, local businesses, but in the end it was the big dealer in the town south of us that won us over. And I shouldn't even put it that way. They didn't win us over, we just finally picked the car they had to offer.

After visiting half a dozen dealers I do have two bits of advice. First, don't show dirty cars! Honestly, I probably would have gone with one of the first three had it been a little cleaner. And I refused to buy the one we finally settled on until they gave it a nice detailed clean (yes, that is what I choose to barter on). I get it, we are buying a used car. I don't expect a new car small. But I also don't want someone else's food grease on the ceiling of my new $12,000 purchase. I feel like that is a reasonable request. The other thing that kind of irked me is all the hidden fees. And again, I get that you have extra costs in addition to the actual vehicle (registration transfer, federal background check, etc) but I wish that would have been neatly added for a big grand total tag. Kind of like airplane tickets. When I purchase those I am shown the cost of the actual ticket and then given the taxes and fees in smaller print underneath and then in big bold letters, the total cost. I think car dealers should do the same.

But really, the reason I am writing this post is not to complain, but to please Reid. See, when we turned in our old Honda (which they gave us $700 for) last Thursday the poor boy was in tears. It was parked next to our new vehicle and when he walked out the front door he made a straight line to our old van and gave it a big old hug. I mean a sincere love hug. It was sweet. Until he started bawling as we drove away.

After spending the day in our new van I asked him how he felt about the whole situation, and our conversation went something like this.

"I like the new van, but I still miss our old one."

"It was a good car, huh buddy?"

"Can you write a blog about it?"

"Sure, I can do that."

If I had a picture, I'd include it. But I don't. If I had awesome memories, I'd include them. But I don't. It was a good little first minivan that held up for three solid years. It was, no lie, a 1999. Yes, it was made the very year Ben started driving, and before I even had my learner's permit. How hysterical! We sent her off with 214,000 miles, only about 30,000 of which were put on by us. I'm grateful it lasted as long as it did, and I'm glad the headache of replacing her is finally over.

Here's to at least 13 years or 114,000 miles with the new guy!

1 comment:

Pa said...

Cars are such a grant pain in the derriere!

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