Took the car over to Lupe's yesterday to have him swap out the serpentine belt for me. The battery hadn't been charging quite right and the power steering was a bit balky. Replacing the serpentine was the first step in the process of getting it right.
Luckily, the beast was still running. Went up and bought parts, came back and gave the parts, a couple of bills, and a six pack to Lupe and came back later to an installed belt. Also got the news that the power steering pump was going bye-bye, but that will be next months project (courtesy Lupe of course).
But the whole process got me to thinking about the efforts required to keep a vehicle on the road, and the somewhat limited benefits of doing so successfully. Oh, I can just hear some folks out there, gnashing their teeth in anticipation of explaining to me how a new car doesn't have these issues. Go out and either drain savings or go further into debt, and you will not have the worries of vehicle maintenance.
There is no situation, short of totaling your current vehicle, where buyinng a new vehicle makes sense. It is the most pernicious and widespread fable of American society which ascribes to a pricey, ill-made, mass production liability the benchmark of ones self-esteem and societal status.
The '99 Chrysler Town and Country that is imperceptibly decaying on 20th Street is a pointed reminder of my mistakes during the past ten years. I am keeping it as a form of penance as much as a means of transportation. I will be doing so for the foreseeable future.
When I bought it back in 2006, it was a stupid purchase, I had a completely functional van that had just been totaled and I bought back the hull for a pittance and had a body shop repair the minor damage that "totaled" it. But then I found out that I would have to get it re-registered and I was just too damn/lazy, busy to accomplish this and so I went out and bought this thing to facilitate this laziness. Gave the old one to the food bank at the local church's food bank where it is still earning it's daily bread.
I have put around 45,000 miles on this beastie since then. I would prefer doing less, but schlepping kids around doesn't allow it. I use it mostly on the weekend for hikes up the gorge and locally, and to pick up groceries. My work is 1.25 miles away.
I could do without it if I had to and as it stands right now, it is an expensive luxury that I haven't quite seen my way fit to dispose of.