Cars and trucks and things that go

Vehicles have been consuming a disproportionate amount of my mental energy lately, and not just because my youngest feels the need to narrate as we drive by. “Bu car! Red car! Big truck!!!” About two? Three weeks ago? I posted about how both of our hitherto reliable vehicles had simultaneously developed urgent problems.

The elder of our two cars, a 2002 Saturn named Brunhilde, has the less driveable of the problems. There’s something with the solenoid or warp drive or some such thing that causes it to lurch every time it shifts (it’s an automatic). So far she’s been to:

Midas: $500 for unrelated issues. Never actually checked to see if it worked.
Midas: Said, oh, the problem actually requires skill so we can’t fix it.
Transmission place: told us to go to the electrical place
Electrical place: said the electrical was fine, told us to go to the transmission place
Transmission place: said that they can look at it in a week. Maybe. It’s now at the transmission place and we are holding out high hopes that maybe someone will actually look at it sometime this year and tell us how much to fork over for fixing it.

Of course, it’s a 2002 Saturn with over 100,000 miles on it that is already nearly 2 car payments deep on repairs. I reckon it has about another $3000 of repairs before the repairs are worth more than the car. So there’s a chance that the transmission place will call up and say, “It’s a warp core breach, cap’n. I canna fix it!” And then poof! We will be in “So we’re buying a new car this weekend mode.”

I don’t wanna buy a new car this weekend. But my family motto is “Nuquam non paratus” which translates to “Boldly go where no mom has gone before”. Or “Never unprepared”. One of the two. So prepared I must be. (My husband’s family motto translates to “Never a good one among us.”)

This is one of the those all-to-frequent moments when I wish you could just write a sql query against life. It would look like this:

SELECT Car, Price, Fuel_Efficiency, Number_of_Passengers, Cargo_Space
FROM 2010_Cars
WHERE Number_of_Passengers >= 5
AND Cargo_Space >= (SELECT Cargo_Space FROM 2007_Cars WHERE Car = ‘Toyota Matrix’)
ORDER BY Fuel_Efficiency DESC

Right there, that would give me everything I’d need. Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to compile that database manually? And then there’s the fact that I know this exact database (or its corollary) actually exists, and I’m totally duplicating effort. But nooo…. they have to have these “friendly user interfaces” that bury the key pieces of information on page 6 and clog up the pages with pointless pieces of non-information like “sporty feeling”. Bah! You know, it’s really hard to even track down how many can be seated in a particular car!

What I really want is a car that can be converted to seat 6 (those rear-facing seats that can flip up), has about double the cargo capacity of our Matrix (our camping trips are like the space shuttle launch in terms of what we have space for), gets 30+ mpg on average, and costs about $17k. Is that so much to ask? (She asks rhetorically.) So I know I’m going to have to give on one or more of those, but I want to play with the give and takes. For example, I’ve been daydreaming about the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, but the mpg isn’t actually THAT great and the price is about double what I want to pay. It’s remarkably difficult to find a place where you can just enter in your criteria and they’ll shoot back a list of matching vehicles., for example, asks what make and model you want. I don’t care! I care about features and functionality, not branding! How should I know what makes and models have the features I want?!!?

Anyway, hopefully it’s all moot. I’m sure the mechanic will call back and say that the grand total is $120, and they filled the tank and detailed the car while they had it. And then I’ll go collect my free flying unicorn. And schedule an appointment to replace the bits of our other car, Hrothgar, that have, you know, fallen off.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

6 thoughts on “Cars and trucks and things that go”

  1. Matthew stood outside my car (36 mpg — not a hybrid) while I drove out of the garage and announced that my suspension is making a “weird noise” and the brakes are starting to squeal. Send that boy back to 8Princeton. 160,000 miles — 8 years. The “child” who will graduate from seminary this year was a junior in hs when I bought that car. But the task of replacing it is overwhelming. I will fix the brakes and replace the tires and implore the car almighty for another two years.


  2. I’m dreaming of a Mazda5, myself. Our 2003 Protege hatchback is a smidge too small, now that we have a second kid, but we’ll manage for a while. Or at least as long as the clutch holds out…

    and you could always try Hub Starters & Alternators on Broadway in Malden. Despite the name, they will do clutches (and, I assume, automatic trnasmissions as well) and I’m planning to take our baby there when the day comes.

    I love your cars’ names…we had Shep the Wonder Buick and Rusty the Trusty Toyota. The Protege never got it’s own name, tho.


    1. We ended up at Precision Transmission in Woburn. Not to provide blog spoilers, but $275 dollars later we have a car back. Woo hoo!!!

      I’ll have to look at the Mazda 5. It’s hard to figure out what should be on your radar!

      Our first car was Olaf. Olaf, Brunhilde & Hrothgar. Wonder what the next one will be?


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