Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Trip, A Trial, A "Good bye!"

Thinking much of my friend, Scott Somerville, this week. In 2002 we bought a Honda upon his advice. Yesterday we said good bye to the Honda.
Purchased in 2002, it mostly took hubby to and from work for 14 years and 188500 miles.
In February the heat wasn't working properly. Engine also running hot. Hubby took it to the mechanic and the thermostat was replaced. Early March the engine still running hot; the A/C and heat not working properly. Mechanic said sometimes you just get a bad thermostat, and replaced thermostat again, and changed the coolant to all synthetic. $$$$
We were planning a trip and hubby wanted to take Honda. Mechanic said first check the coolant to make sure it was topped off, and when the car was hot, check the radiator cap to make sure it was working properly, letting off steam as needed. ::sigh:: He didn't.
About three hours into a seven hour trip, the car was pegging red on the heat index, and as we pulled off to a gas station the smoke began pouring into the car and leaving a trail. No fire, just smoking engine. Radiator had overheated; fluids on hot engine smoking.
A good Samaritan, Jeff, (an angel in disguise) was right beside where we parked and came to give aid and advice. We cooled the engine down, and the radiator cap was removed. It had disintegrated, and parts had to be fished out of the top of the radiator. The radiator was topped off with water, which Jeff provided, and we decided to limp on back roads the next 20 miles to the Honda dealership in Roanoke.
At the dealership the service section was already closed for the night. A new radiator cap was purchased ($$$$), and we decided to get a hotel room ($$$$) and come back in the morning to get the car checked out.
We were at the garage at 8:03 the next morning, only to find five people already ahead of us. So, after an hour's wait our car was surveyed. It was found that the radiator was cracked. A radiator (refurbished?) was found to be available in Roanoke, and we were given a loaner with a three-hour estimate for repair ($$$$).
We left, went to Wal-Mart, the mall, Chick-Filet, Starbucks ($$$$), and returned to the dealership to wait. And wait. And wait. When the work was finished, we paid for the repairs and continued on our way to Charlotte.
After a shortened visit with my husband's dad and brother and family, we got back onto the road. Three hours into the trip the car started to overheat. Again. We had left home on a 78 degree day to drive to Charlotte, NC, and were now heading home to 55 degree weather for which we had not packed, only to realize that running the heat was overheating the car. The heat was turned off (and I was COLD!). The car cooled off. And heated up. And cooled off. And heated up.
Until it was no longer cooling off. We began pulling off the road for 15 minutes ever 30-45 minutes of driving. Then every 20. Then every 10. Then we were no longer safely leaving the highway, but were on the shoulder with the hood open and the flashers on. Then driving; repeat.
Then on 66 we were pulled over, and a highway safety truck came to park behind us till we could safely restart our journey. Then we drove, and had to stop again. Then the battery died. Another highway safety truck came and helped us, getting us jump started.
And we drove again. And had to stop again. Finally determined to call our tow coverage to get towed the rest of the way. The service said it would be an hour, and they'd have the tow company text us. The tow company said it would be closer to two hours. We cancelled.
Hubby went to the now cool radiator, opened the lid, added more water, closed the hood, and we started again.  We limped the rest of the way home, carefully, but thankfully safely. Called our mechanic, and that night we dropped off the Honda for him to examine.

Next day, verdict: might be head gasket. If we replaced the head gasket, might find there was more needing to be done. $$$$

With older cars, one is constantly watching to determine if one has reached the tipping point where it is costing too much to maintain the old car, if safety is being compromised -- if it is time to buy a new car.

It's been a pleasant many years with no car payment (our other vehicle is a 2003). We just made the last payment on the braces. We were entering a season where we had an extra $100-something/month to not spend on braces, and instead we are now entering a new season of spending $250-something/month on a car payment. But we've said good bye to the Honda, greeted a new Toyota, and entered this new season grateful that our car-trouble-trip was not worse.

Sorry I didn't post my Menu Monday -- we were busy breaking down that day. I never did plan a menu this week -- we're limping through on quick trips to the store combined with food in the freezer. Here is a photo of the new car:

We can no longer say the Honda and the Toyota, cause we now have two Toyotas. We can't manage "The car" and "the van", because I've been calling the van "the car" for years. I think we're going to call the van "Sandy" and the car "Silver Streak" based on their color.

So that's my tale of a not so typical "Think Back Thursday" - saying good bye to a car that served faithfully for 14 years (although we had hoped it would serve for 300,000 miles!).


  1. what an adventure!! We made a similar choice almost a year ago - said good-bye to our "trusty" mini-van that was no longer quite so trusty and exchanged vehicle repair bills for a car payment. But I LOVE my new Toyota RAV!!

  2. quite the trip you had... I would have been so ACK!!!!

    enjoy the new wheels. :)