The short answer is be me. I have uncanny luck with cars, specifically an uncanny amount of bad luck.
Three years ago sometime around early April I had decided to get a new vehicle. At the time I was driving a 2002 Pontiac Montana with roughly 212,000 miles on it. It still ran but needed about a thousand bucks worth of work. I thought it would probably be smarter to get a newer, more reliable van instead of fixing that one. I didn’t want to end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead minivan that I had just poured money into and I had enough saved up to buy a slightly newer version of the same van with significantly fewer miles on it. So I did. I passed the older one onto one of my sisters to use with full disclosure of all the work it needed. It would most likely just be a temporary solution for her vehicle problems.
My shiny new(er) Pontiac Montana had no problems…for about a year. Then in the spring of 2014 I was up north with a friend and the van wouldn’t start. After a few tries it finally did start; my friend’s dad said it sounded like a fuel pump. So I got that replaced and life went on. Over the next couple years that bastard minivan left me stranded (usually with my kids) no less than three times. I replaced the starter (twice because I got a dud that stopped working after two months the first time), the battery (also twice because the alternator drained it when it kicked it), the transmission, the alternator, and ,maybe a month ago, the rear drum breaks. I got two new tires then too which would be the fifth and sixth new ones on the van (not counting the three times I got flat tires and put used ones someone had given me on it). In the meantime my sister was still driving the old van I had given her, the one I was worried would leave me stranded. Oh the irony!
Two weeks ago I was driving a kid to a friend’s house before going to pick up another kid at a different friend’s house in another town the opposite direction from the first kid’s friend’s house (of course) when my van was suddenly overheating. There was no gradual climb in engine temperature, just a blast of cold air when I turned on the heat, flashing warning lights, and the temperature gauge hitting the read. That is not supposed to happen! I pulled over to allow the engine to cool and figure out what the heck to do. By the time the kid’s friend’s parents could come to get him the engine had cooled down. I borrowed a container and some water from the store who’s parking lot we had been sitting in for half an hour (an auto parts store no less) and filled the coolant reservoir. The van made it the fifteen or so miles back to my house but I wasn’t going to press my luck so I grabbed my other crappy old vehicle, a car my dad gave me when the drum breaks had gone out two weeks before that, and went to get kid 2 from friend 2’s house. I managed to avoid doing anything about the overheating van for a solid week before taking it to a shop to get diagnosed.
It was a blown head gasket…Clearly it was time to throw in the towel on this oh-so reliable minivan. As is typical this isn’t an ideal time for me to be investing in a new car but a used car place few blocks from my house had a Honda Oddessy that I could buy outright. It was older and had about the same mileage my current crap vehicle had but Oddessys are supposed to be good, reliable vehicles with engines that frequently see 300K miles. It looked like a good deal and didn’t have any apparent problems when I test drove it except that the radio didn’t work. That’s sad but technically minor.
Monday afternoon shortly after 3pm I left the car lot the proud owner of a Honda Oddessy minivan.
I drove the shiny new minivan to pick my kids up from school about ten miles away and then back home again. It was all fun and exciting, showing up with a new car. Tuesday morning I drove my kids to one school, then the other, and back home again for a total of thirty miles or so. Sometime between school one and school two the check engine and a tcs warning light came on. What the fuck?
When I got home I Googled. There was lots of information about solenoids and cleaning some pencil sized filter that feeds into the thingy right before the transmission. I sighed a heavy sigh and headed in to get myself ready for school. Half an hour later when I got back int he van and started it up, the tcs light was off and only the check engine light remained. Irritating but I could live with that. It was probably a fluke…or sensor. No big deal.
Off to school I went, another thirty-five miles logged.
It was just before two o’clock when I get in the van to leave school and go to my favorite state park to run. It was a sunny day and I was looking forward to a nice five miles in the woods. As soon as I started to accelerate on the freeway entrance ramp I knew something wasn’t right. There was lurching and jerking between the gears. As I hit 60 mph the engine started revving really high; RPM’s were in the red. We’re talking like in the six to eight range. The van wouldn’t go above sixty. I tried all the tricks I could think of…but then it wouldn’t go above forty. Crap!
Crap on a stick!!!
I pulled off the freeway all the way to the right just as the stupid van was refusing to acknowledge the gas pedal altogether (about three minutes after the honking began. Seriously, people, you think I’m going 40 mph on the freeway ON PURPOSE?!?)
My new Honda Oddessy was dead on the road a whole twenty-three and a half hours after I bought it.
Allegedly the most reliable minivan and it was not moving…
And that, my friends, is how you kill a minivan in 24 hours or less. If you have one you want to try this out on just let me know. I’d be happy to lend my magic touch…for a nominal fee.
Hey, I’ve got another new(er) car to fund here.
In case you were wondering, I spent about three hours on the side of the road before my dad (with his unlimited towing insurance card) and then the tow truck showed up. The used car place I bought the van from graciously took it back and set me up with a different car (that I had to finance:( ) applying the money from the Oddessy purchase (including the cost of tax and title) to the newer vehicle.
The good news is that it’s NOT a minivan. For the first time in thirteen years I am not a minivan mom. I’m beyond excited about that!
And the newer new vehicle, the one that runs, has a two year warranty. But, hey, it’s supposed to be one of the most reliable vehicles on the road so I probably won’t even need that warranty. (Believe that when you see it!)