divider
December 19th, 2005

As of this morning, we have a new car.

For limited definitions of “new”, and “car.”

On Thursday, I was half way to school with #2 Son, when I realized that our dodge Caravan was never going to see 4th gear again. The thing has been on it’s way to the elephant’s graveyard for several years now, but this was the last straw. Without a major cash infusion, it will no longer drive faster than 35 miles an hour.

Actually, this was about the fifth last straw. We’re pretty free with “second chances” and “just one more tries” in our family. From the moment we got this beast, heavily used about three years ago, it’s been Satan’s minivan.

The past two winters it’s had a mysterious, undiagnosable illness that caused to to choke and die without warning, leaving me stranded on various Wisconsin back roads. Many visits to the dealer did nothing to solve the problem. It would run fine for mechanics and then leave me in the dark, in December, miles from nowhere and unable to go more than 3 miles an hour (which makes the current 35 mph limit look pretty damn zippy). But when the AAA guy looks at you sadly, and suggests you get the membership with ‘unlimited towing’ you know the handwriting is on the wall.

And there was the fact that the CHECK ENGINE light was on for a year and a half. After a while, it was like having a nightlight. I got scared and lonely when I didn’t see it. we tried the dealership and several mechanics, but no one could make the thing stay off.

I fixed it this spring. I ran into the neighbor’s pickup truck. fairly minor damage to the bumper, and the light hasn’t been on since. If I
d known that was what it took, I’d have run into something back in 2002.

And then there was the time the front wheels almost fell off on our vacation to Canada. And the way the steering went out a week before Christmas last year. And the $500 we spent on new brakes just two short weeks ago.

The van has been taunting us. I know it has.

But we are now the proud owners of a slightly less old minivan. A virginal 93,000 miles. Luxurious fourth rear door for easy loading of the golden retriever. Hand crank windows, perfect for toning flabby triceps. And AM/FM cassette, because CDs are for sissies.

And, of course, the gift AAA. With unlimited towing.