Rest In Peace

This morning a guy came from, as it turned out, Hank Zion’s to get the dead van after being the best offer from my Craigslist post.  Good riddance, yet I am also sad, because had I been able to spring as little as $200-odd shortly after it died, it would probably have been fine for an extended time.  We had finally gotten down to the root of what ailed it.  Which I still think shouldn’t have been so mysterious, since in retrospect I Googled the symptoms and the answer to what ailed it floated pretty unambiguously to the top.  Someone who knew cars ought have been able to say “hey, back pressure into the coolant, so it acts like a radiator problem but doesn’t overheat” and insist we do head gaskets.  For that matter, the guy who sold it, a mechanic of sorts, had apparently used radiator sealant to mask the problem long enough to sell it, even as he was being mostly honest about its condition.

And for the record, my brother did not overtly and firmly advise us to buy it.  He’s all hysterical and revisionist, making sure all and sundry know that he told us in no uncertain terms not to buy it so dammit not his fault.  He gave us an honest, skeptical assessment of the risk we’d be taking.  However, he has spent the last several year drumming on me about owning the Sentra, and how it was going to fall apart on me, and I needed to replace it Right Now, with the crescendo reached right when the van came available.  He wasn’t entirely wrong, and we needed something bigger, but if he hadn’t scared the crap out of me about the Sentra at that point, I would probably have waited, and probably gotten a few relatively inexpensive additional months out of it.  We didn’t need a van until August, and obviously we can manage without something that size.  We’d just have managed better with two vehicles that could hold 6 people combined than with one that holds 2.

But I digress.

The van was, when it ran, a solid, comfortable ride.  If only the motor…

The guy picking up the van asked about the Sentra.  That led to my scrambling to empty it, after having put some of the van contents into it.  I got what I expected for it, but without having to make any further calls or arrangements.  In the course of taking part of it into the cellar and talking to the downstairs neighbor, I discovered the guy on the 3rd floor has an IP camera monitoring part of the cellar.  Cute.  That fits with his suddenly starting to lock the deadbolt on the back door.  That’s fine if you have a key.  I suspect it may be a case of his having a “friend” who can’t be trusted, or that sort of thing.

It was good the way it happened, because it was like yanking a tooth suddenly.  After it was empty and hooked to the back of the ramp truck, I ran upstairs to get the title and grabbed the camera.  When I got back down and started to take a picture, I remarked it might seem odd.  He said not at all, which sparked a conversation about beloved cars.  Some people cry when he takes them away, which he said just as I was trying not to.

It was parked for some overly long stretches, worst thing I ever did to it, but it’s awfully close to 12 years to the day since I bought the Sentra.  In that time, over 100,000 miles, I spent slightly more on repairs that I spent on the van in the course of maybe 7 months, less than 4000 miles.  It spoiled me - that’s how I came to expect cars to be, maintenance-wise.  Especially since the car before it, an Escort, had been decent as well.  That one worked great until it experienced total meltdown, and even then the guy I gave it to was able to drive it away.  His had a good motor but had been slammed in back by a drunk.  Mine had a good body.

It’s the end of an era.  It’s also kind of a slate cleaning.  We don’t have the dead cars staring us down in the driveway, needing to be dealt with.  Things that should have long since moved into the apartment or cellar are in.  It’s akin to my doing the partnership taxes for the last time this weekend, though that’s not done until I actually file them, and I’ll still be storing all that stuff for years because, well, someone has to and I paid me for the privilege.

Anyway, it made for an interesting morning, made all the earlier by my waking up at 5:30 when Valerie got in bed with us, and never going back to sleep.  I still need to put some stuff away in the aftermath.

Shoot!  I should have asked if they wanted the tires I have in the back of the truck.  At one point someone mysteriously swapped a wheel on the truck for one with an excellent snow tire that made it all mismatched.  I got two good used tires from my father, had those mounted, and was left with a still good original tire and the good snow tire.  Apparently the not inconsiderable cost of swapping the tires didn’t include disposal, or they assumed I’d want them, given their good condition (reasonable and safe assumption).  The salvage people could probably sell them to a happy customer.  Oh well.  There’s a spot in the yard where they can go if they get in the way in the truck bed.

So… bye 1994 Plymouth Voyager.  Good riddance, and couldn’t you have died gracefully without first costing a significant fraction of the year’s income?  I can’t imagine I’ll ever buy another Chrysler van.

Bye faithful 1988 Nissan Sentra.  You were the Best Car Ever.

Posted by on 02/26 at 03:07 PM

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