Wednesday, July 27, 2005

95 mph

I was cruising home today after another 12 hour day in the mortgage business. My new Infinity I30 was purring along. The music was blaring; the sunroof was down, and I was in the fast lane passing the sporadic 7:30 PM traffic. It ocurred to me that I was going pretty fast. Glancing down at the speedometer, I see I was doing 95 miles per hour. I didn't even notice. The car wasn't even straining in any way. The ride was as smooth as 45 mph in other vehicles I've driven. The Infinity is a true high speed cruiser. I'm anticipating a few speeding tickets driving my new baby.

My apologies for the lack of pictures, but as you can tell, I got my new (used) car. It's absolutely amazing. The ride is smooth, the stereo is better than what I have at home and its packed full of safety features. With a down payment, I got a great deal on the financing from a local credit union, so my payments will be very reasonable.

On the ride from the dealership back to work, I needed to fill it up for the first time. I stopped at a gas station in the heart of Oakland's Acorn district. I get out to open the gas door. It's locked, and like a lot of these new cars, it's equipped with a release inside the car somewhere. I start scanning the dashboard for the button or switch. I'm looking and looking, and I can't find it. So many functions, the thing looks like a spaceship control panel imbedded in polished walnut trim. Finally, I decide to consult the car's manual. Ten minutes later, I find the page that describes where the gas door release is. It was on the car door!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Buying a car

Above is not my new car, but an image I found on the web of the model I'm getting.

I fell in love with the Infinity I30 Touring Edition the second I hit the accelerator and felt that V6 (Automotive magazine called it the best V6 on the market) kick in. Vroom! It reminded me of the few times I've been behind the wheel of a BMW. The suspension is amazing. The interior is stylish, and the luxury features are well... luxurious (I'd never make it as an auto mag writer).

I don't have a pic of my car yet, as I'm still working out the financing, but I should have it by Tuesday. It's metallic green with a moonroof, spoiler, the works! It's a 2000 model with 80K miles on it, but whoever the previous owner was, they took good care of it. I've seen the dealership service schedule, and this car hasn't missed as much as an oil change in 5 years. I don't know too much about Nissan engines, but from the reviews I've read online, I can't go wrong with an Infinity I30.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

SIDEKICK rest in peace

My old truck...

I feel like I've lost an old friend

My good wife has been on me for some weeks to get her car tuned up. She said it was running a bit rough, and I believed her, but whenever I drove it, it seemed to run just fine. We sort of put off her maintenance because of where we are financially right now as, to me anyways, it didn't seem that pressing.

Then the "Service Engine Soon" light came on.

What friendly verbiage for Chrysler to tell their Neon owners that their car is about to have major problems. What's next? A "Please, if it's not too much trouble, the car's not feeling so good," light? The mechanic first charged me for a new spark plug wires, and then as I was driving away, the check engine light came back on again. Turns out, the head gasket is blown, and they're going to have to replace it, remove the heads and have them checked for damage, and remachine if necessary. Estimated repair cost :$1000-$1200.

Worse yet, my regular mechanic had his shop sold out from under him. There was a sad note on the door of his closed garage stating the city of Oakland had taken his business away from him by using "eminant domain." They're going to build a big condo complex on the site where he's done business for 30 years.

While I'm driving my wife's car around, she's got my Suzuki Sidekick. I love my truck. When I'm BARTing all over the Bay Area, visiting CMD branches, I get this great feeling at the end of the day when I see my vehicle parked all by itself in a lonely lot. It's like I'm out hunting or adventuring or doing some other manly thing, and then, returning from my struggles, my faithful mount is waiting for me. Like it missed me. Okay, I'm anthropomorphizing, er, perhaps equineomorphizing would be more descriptive, but it's not unusual to have an emotional attachment to a vehicle. The Sidekick is the first car or truck I ever bought with all my own money. It has run well for several years, although I know it has over 300K miles on it.

As I'm going back and forth to the mechanic for my wife's car, she calls me to tell me that the Suzuki suddenly couldn't make it up the hill. She had to park down the street as the car mysteriously had no power. The engine ran, but it made the whole vehicle shake violently. At first, we thought it might be because I'd let the gas run all the way down, and then parked it on a hill. Maybe sediment from the tank had gotten into the fuel line. Just a minor clogged artery... a little bypass surgery was needed. My old mechanic recommended a colleague of his, and I had my poor Suzuki towed off to the "Auto Repair Master." It's still there. It took him two days to throw up his hands and tell me it needs a whole new engine. They can't diagnose how it happened, suffice to say there is no pressure in two of the cyllinders, and it's beyond hope of repair. Cost to repair: $3500 to $4000. I bought the truck for $3000.

I don't blame the beloved wife one bit for the fact that my car died. She only drove it a few blocks, and I'm sure the same thing would have happened had I been behind the wheel. It is kinda weird not being there when it went through its death throws. It's like entrusting an elderly pet to someone while you're out of town and having it pass away under his or her care. You know he or she didn't kill the animal, but its a tough feeling nonetheless.

To make matters worse, even the rental car company is giving me troubles. When I found out my car was totalled, I called Enterprise of Walnut Creek to arrange a weekend rental. We've gone a whole week now with no vehicles, and tons of stuff to do, including shopping for a new (used) car. They said they would hold their last vehicle for me, and that I should call back when I'm ready to get picked up. I called them after work at 5:15, and they said 30 to 45 minutes before pick up. I waited and waited, checking my cel phone every 5 minutes. Finally, after an hour waiting, I called them up to find they were closed. I called every other rental car place in town; all were closed. I called Enterprise national roadside assistance. I hadn't rented a car, but I was roadside, and I sure needed assistance! They were sympathetic, but couldn't do anything. Man, I was, and still am pissed off. Leaving me stranded after I made a reservation! When I'm done with this post, I'll be calling them, and the manager is going to get an earfull.

So today, I go and look for a car loan and a new car. I've never had a car payment, and in my new job, I get to see how car payments can effect someone's debt-to-income ratio dramatically. Thats why I'm looking for a quality used vehicle.

My next post will be about my new car or truck.