In April 2001, we bought a sleak 2000 Chrysler Grand Voyager with 26K miles. We test drove it on a freeway with the windows rolled down, so we didn’t know that the road noise would not diminish by much when the windows were up, due to the windshield having no gasket. 🙂 The whooshing was something we just lived with on highways by cranking up the radio and talking louder to each other. No big deal.
In anticipation of a June 2001 road trip for a family reunion in Tennessee, we replaced the radio with a Clarion radio/player. However, we weren’t 50 miles from home before we realized that we had brought our boxes of music cassettes for naught – the Clarion only took CDs. No big deal.
Within a year we had to replace the brake pads and were told that Chrysler had not fit this heavier 2000 model with a load-appropriate braking system. Soooo, we would be replacing the pads every year because the van was too heavy for the brakes. No big deal.
After five years, we began calling her Nellie. She was reliable. She could haul lots of stuff. She could seat five in the back. She had built-in fold-down car seats for our toddler grandchildren. Over the years, pieces of her would need fixing or replacing, but the engine and the air-conditioning kept going strong.
The hub caps kept falling off or getting stolen, so we stopped replacing them. I didn’t mind, though, as I was on the inside. Besides, the two other vans like ours in New Braunfels had hub caps so we could easily identify Nellie in a parking lot. 🙂
When the headliner began billowing, I staple-gunned it and covered the staples with sparkly star and moon stickers, which the kids loved. (I could gauge the humidity by the headliner: taut meant low; lumpy meant high.)
Eventually, only one rear window opened and closed. No big deal, but gone was the use of drive-through windows and post office drive-up mailboxes. You never realize how much you use those conveniences until you can’t.
Last Friday morning, Nellie did not start, so we figured we could no longer put off the inevitable. After all, she had been dependable for over eleven years and had over 222K miles on her. We borrowed Mom’s Altima in order to pick up the grandkids from school that afternoon, then took Danny’s Ram truck to San Antonio for a preemptive check of various vehicles. We really had no idea what we wanted, other than low mileage, comfortable ride, a few bells and whistles, and tinted windows. I had suggested Carmax, thinking they would have a good variety; however, Danny missed the exit. When we took the next exit, we found Enterprise Car Sales. Hmmm, we thought and turned in.
We walked inside the office and were immediately greeted by smiling Tim Hejl (pronounced Hale). After giving him an idea of what we were looking for, he let us scope out the lot for some possibilities and gathered some keys together for test driving. Just sitting in the smaller SUVs and sedans was enough to maked us shake our heads no, even though they had good mpg. From then on we concentrated on minivans that were within our price range. Tim told us that if we did not like what was available, he would get on the computer and show us what other Enterprise locations had.
Three hours sped by that morning, and we were to return the following morning (Saturday) with Nellie and test drive another van that would be brought from Austin. Later that Friday, Tim called to say that we had been preapproved. Cool! Now all we had to do was get Nellie to start. 🙂 Danny determined the fuel line was clogged and got it fixed up. We unloaded all the paraphernalia a grandma needs, which probably had Nellie wondering what was going on after eleven years with us, but we left the dings, scrapes, and stars.
That Saturday, we were very impressed with the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan that was waiting for us. It was just about perfect with its snazzy/roomy interior, backup monitor, fold-into-the-floor seats, roll-down passenger windows, and automatic sliding passenger passenger doors. It also showed outside temperature and direction like Nellie, but in a different place – right in front of me between the rpm and speedometer gauges. Woohoo! What it does not have are an automatic open/close rear door and built-in toddler seats, but we can live without those. The former I never had (Danny wanted that feature) and we already have regular car seats for our youngest grandchildren, who won’t need them much longer anyway. We are very pleased with our silver van and its plush/stylish black seats and carpet. And, it only needs the oil/filter changed every 8,000 miles. Imagine that!
Danny and I can’t wait to take it on a road trip, but we won’t call her Nellie until she racks up at least 100K miles.
(This was the best car buying experience we have ever had: great people, no hassle/haggle policy, great trade-in value, terrific price, and plenty of inventory!)