I have an old Grand Caravan. It’s been a pretty good vehicle, has over 191,000 miles on it without any critical failures. No engine or transmission replacements, no accidents, no repairs that look like they’re going to be more than the vehicle’s worth. We’ve gotten a lot of good use out of it. Three kids learned to drive in that van.
These days, we generally drive the newer cars. But the “big blue battleship” is still good for hauling stuff around or acting as a third vehicle in a pinch if family’s visiting from out of town. For a minimal amount of insurance, it’s a good backup or contingency vehicle.
I do so dearly love having redundant systems, a backup, a Plan B. The van gives us that.
But I’m not a moron. (Shut up, you back there in the peanut gallery!) Blue Book value says it’s worth about $2,500 to $3,000 on a good day, so if it costs $200 to $300 a year in maintenance, I’m fine. If one of the above-mentioned critical failures comes up (ever thrown a rod at high speed on the freeway?), the BBB becomes a boat anchor. For the moment, it had simply accumulated a couple of nagging and annoying little issues.
The heater was unreliable and would start blowing ice cold air at random times. Not a big deal in 108° LA summer weather, but it’s getting cooler some days.
No doubt related was its tendency the last month to all of a sudden spike to the redline on temperature, which triggers a most impressive display of warning lights on the dashboard. (At least they all still work!) So far it’s given me just about enough time to panic before it just as suddenly and unexpectedly dropped right back down to normal.
The Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) warning light is on. The brakes work fine, but I guess the ABS system wasn’t.
So into the shop it went for its annual maintenance. Final price, under that $300 guideline, so we’re golden! Right? (As a side note, the AM/FM/CD/cassette radio died years ago, so I finally splurged on a new one that also has a jack so I can plug in my iPhone or other device. I’ve been good, I deserve a treat!)
This morning I go out to start driving it for a few days, give Hissy some time off – and within about two blocks I’m getting bells and dings and warning lights on the dashboard.
SHAZZBATT!! What now?!
Ah, need gas and need windshield washer fluid.
Not quite a false alarm, but so far as car repairs go I’m emotionally fragile right now. Be gentle with me.