Sunday, January 8, 2012

Car Troubles

This is the Old Car, a 2002 Buick Century.

It was very used when David acquired it as a job-hunting college graduate.  It stayed with his family at home for quite some time after he joined the Navy, and due to the impossibility of shipping more than one car to join us on the other side of the country after the wedding, it was passed over in favor of the newer car provided by my family.  It was suspected that Old Car might have a bit of trouble if ever forced to take a California emissions test.

This is the Newer Car, a 2009 Hyundai Elantra.  It has served us well for several years now, including driving us back to the east coast from California last April.  As the one family car for a year and a bit, it behaved very well, and still hasn't had any major mechanical problems.  Getting it's paperwork straightened out was quite another story, but that wasn't it's fault.  It passed it's emissions test with flying colors, and is still running strong.

When we moved back from California, we picked up the Old Car at Dave's parents' house and brought it up here with us.  There were a few interesting things wrong with it, notably the broken knob on the defroster control, and the fact that the actual key which unlocked the door (different from the key for the ignition) was missing.  I never did like using the remote to lock and unlock the car, but Dave loves it, so it didn't seem like an urgent problem.

We were busy enough with the Elantra's paperwork without worrying right away about the Buick, but eventually it was time to regularize it's status as well.  It was still registered in another state, but we had just been given the title by Dave's family.  Before we could get it registered, we would need a license plate mount on the front to comply with state law.  Apparently that is a big job on that particular model, and we had to get it to a dealership for that.  I don't even remember what it cost.  $$$  At some point it was discovered that it needed a new tire, and we thought it best to replace all four.  $$$  While at Firestone, the mechanics made a list of things about the Old Car which would not pass the state inspection required for registration.  We eventually got all of those fixed.  $700.  Finally we had a free day to take it for its state inspection.  $70.  Unfortunately it failed, and another list of nitpicky things was drawn up for repair.  This would allegedly cost at least another $700 plus another $70 inspection.  In the meantime, we took it for a routine oil change, and it's power steering fluid turned up very low.  $220.

At this point I was ready to dump it.  We've been here eight months and we haven't managed to get it registered yet, and it allegedly only has two years before we start having transmission problems anyway.  After some discussion and window shopping, we decided to shop for a Hyundai Accent ASAP and not bother repairing or registering the Old Car.

Old Car apparently took offense.  A few days later, Dave had to take my car, the Elantra, to work because the remote which unlocked the door was apparently no longer working.  I spent the rest of the day finding out what it would cost to get that fixed.  It would involve at least a locksmith ($60) and parts and labor at the dealership ($200).  We called his family and began making inquiries about that missing door key.

The locksmith came and popped the door, the second remote was acquired from the glovebox, and we thought we were back in business.  We were planning to go car shopping within the week, anyway.  The only question was whether we were going to donate Old Car or trade it in.  But another attempt to take Old Car to work revealed that it wasn't the key remote that was at fault.  Apparently the whole car is dead.  It's probably the battery, and neither of us has the first idea how to jump start it properly.  In the meantime, the key was found a few states away in an old coat pocket, and is allegedly in the mail to us now.  Rather than mess with mechanics or tow trucks or any repair fees, we opted for the donation route.  The dead car is still sitting in the parking lot, waiting to be rejoined by its door key and towed away for charity.

This is our Newest Car, a 2012 Hyundai Elantra.  The dealership was unfortunately all sold out of Accents, so we got an upgrade.  Fortunately, this particular car had been their demo model, and we got a $2000 discount because of it's 3000 miles of test drives.  We'll have to live by a stricter budget for a while, but at this particular point in our lives, with no kids or pets, it seemed like the best time to get a more reliable car.

Dave, ever the gentleman, was kind enough to let me have the new car, and to accept the old trusty Elantra as Old Car's replacement.  :)

P.S.  We usually give our belongings nicknames, sometimes more flattering than others.  The old Elantra was generally dubbed "Little Car" since all the others seemed to be bigger.  My sister, quite the character, called it "Squatty Body," because she hates riding so close to the ground.  For a day we called the new car "Squatty Body 2.0", but I'll probably call it the "Snowmobile," not just because of the color, but because we had it thoroughly rust and corrosion-proofed in anticipation of the winter weather and salted roads we're supposed to have up here.


  1. Hey, look at that snazzy new car!

    I really need to call you one of these days...

  2. The keys are really in the mail I promise!