Thursday, August 23, 2007

My almost paid for minivan

It's been a busy couple of days. Hubby didn't have to work Monday or Tuesday so I got to spend quite a bit of time with him doing little things around the house. We went grocery shopping and he heard a scraping/grinding noise coming from the front passenger side of my minivan (he won't drive it, he likes his truck). He said he thought it was a wheel bearing and for me to take it to our mechanic and have it double-checked. So that was yesterday morning, and it was definitely a wheel bearing. I thought, how expensive can it be? Wheel bearings aren't a big part, and not all that complicated (the last time I changed a wheel bearing was over 20 years ago and it cost me about 10 bucks for the part and I changed it myself). Not any more, though. The part alone was almost $200! So, since I don't drive a lot of miles anymore, Arnie recommended a used part (I've done that before and they usually work out pretty well). It was only $65 for the used one, so I said yeah. I took the van in Wednesday afternoon and sat in the office while Arnie took my baby apart. Then he had me come out and look at the tie rod end, that had way too much play in it. He called to price that part, and it was only an additional $25, so I said to fix that too (you really don't want to let suspension and steering problems go, too dangerous). Hubby was not happy about having to spend money fixing the minivan, but like I told him, it's 10 years old, has 156,000 miles on it, and I only have 3 payments left to make. Of course things are going to go wrong with it. But it's cheaper to repair it than to make payments on a newer vehicle (and I won't own anything but a Chrysler/Dodge minivan any more).
Now, for the main reason for this post. I've been reading on other blogs about people looking for a vehicle that is fat-friendly. When I bought my minivan, I looked at Fords, and Chevys, and Buicks, along with the Chrysler/Dodges. I'll admit I'm partial to Chrysler products, I've owned several over the last 35 years that I've been driving and they've been the best, most comfortable cars. I bought a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan 2 years ago for $4000 and it had 104,000 miles on it (my son checked it out for me, it was in great shape). Other than tires, oil changes, and brake work, I haven't had to put any money into it until now (which is not bad, considering I put 50,000 miles on it in a year and a half driving back and forth to work). It still gets 25 miles per gallon of gas and I can get my husband, my son and his wife, and the two grandkids in it comfortably (not to mention it hauls a lot of groceries and rummage sale purchases). My main reasons for buying the Dodge minivan were the ease with which I could get in and out of it (I have arthritis in one knee and it's painful to bend it getting in and out of a lower car), there's plenty of room between me and the steering wheel, it's comfortable to ride in for long periods of time, and I don't need a seatbelt extender. And that's saying a lot when you're 5' 8" and weigh 390 lbs and have long legs. My Caravan isn't a flex-fuel, so I can't use E85 in it, but I figure I get good enough gas mileage that I'm not too worried (since the mileage listed when it was new is only 18 to 20 mpg, I figure the fact that it gets 25 mpg is pretty darned good for a 10 year old vehicle with 156,000 miles on it). I can truly say that my minivan is a very fat-friendly vehicle, and it's great for families too, thin or fat.
Just in case you're wondering how I know about changing wheel dad is a mechanic and I grew up hearing about cars and watching him work on them, so when I decided to go back to school in my late 20's, I went to a 2-year college to become a mechanic. I had the aptitude for it, but when you have a large chest, it's not easy getting under a car on a creeper (and I had one shop teacher who thought there was no way a woman could be a mechanic, women just don't have the skills, according to him). I made it through the engines, transmissions, suspension, exhaust, brakes, and air conditioning classes, but when it came right down to working on real cars, I realized I was good with the older ones (70's and older models), but the 80's models with the computers in them, that was more complicated than I wanted to get involved with (I really didn't want to be responsible for telling a customer that he needed to replace a $600 computer when it might actually be something else that I couldn't diagnose). So I ended up with a lot of knowledge that I applied to my own cars since it was a lot cheaper for me to buy the parts and do the labor myself (good thing I've never been a girly girl and don't mind getting grease under my nails, thank heavens for Dawn dish soap!).
Since I waited until I was 53 to get married, I also learned how to operate a hammer, screwdriver, jigsaw, circular saw, and drill. I can do basic plumbing and carpentry, but electrical work is beyond me (unless it's repairing a lamp or splicing a wire, those I can do).
Well, this kind of rambled on tonight, but I thought I would give any readers a little more background on my life, maybe give y'all a better idea of who I am and where I've been.

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