Bumming Rides

We’re into week two of bumming rides and adapting to the pokey public transit system here in San Diego.

Apparently our trusty 96 Toyota Previa needs a new EGR valve, vacuum switch valve, and temperature sensor.  (It decided to put out some dark exhaust recently and has developed a habit of “hiccuping” in certain circumstances, such as under heavy load, so we took it in last Sunday.  These symptoms are apparently linked to the check-engine-light code that has been on for many years[1].)

The industrious Pep Boys down the street took several days to diagnose it and are now having difficulty ordering and receiving the proper parts.  So there it sits, half disassembled, taking up space in their bay and not being of any use to us.  They’re saying they should have it ready by the end of Tuesday, but I’ll believe it when I see it.  I for one just hope that this solves the problem, because either way it will be costly!  I fully intend to get many more miles out of this “built-like-a-tank” minivan – it currently has just shy of 160,000.

To everyone about to play the “Ugh, just get rid of it already and get a new car!” card, I would like to mention the following:

  1. I don’t own the vehicle; my Dad does.
  2. Furthermore, it is licensed in Washington and he pays for insurance as well as two tanks of gas per month.
  3. As much as I would love to suddenly own a Prius (or similar vehicle), I don’t really make very much money as a graduate student, and new cars cost money.
  4. Yes, it is true that Mike makes money, but we are actually trying out this novel thing called saving.
  5. It is phenomenally cheaper to maintain an old vehicle than to purchase/finance a new one.

Of course, if all else fails, I could always resort to this.

[1] For the record, the van was taken into the shop when the CEL first came on.  (Code: P401 Exhaust Gas Recirculation Flow Insufficient Detected.)  This was many years ago when it still resided in Richland.  The mechanic cleaned the EGR valve only to have the light come back on.  At the time the van was running perfectly nicely, and the mechanic stated that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to continue driving it with the light on, but if we wanted we could spend hundreds more to investigate the issue thoroughly.  Guess what Dad did.


2 thoughts on “Bumming Rides

  1. Point 5 is really only valid up to a certain point. As I imagine you’re about to discover, car repairs are costly, and when cars get as old as the Previa, you will start having to do repairs on it every other month or so that will be as much or significantly more than the cost of a new car loan.

    And I fail to see how your father owning the van has any bearing on whether or not you buy your own new car.

    • Yes, eventually there is a tipping point, but Previas are proverbial tanks. I routinely have people tell me that their Previa has upwards of 200,000 or even 300,000 miles and is still running strong.

      As to my dad owning the van, it’s relevant because he ultimately determines its fate and he is a firm believer in Point 5. Even if I wanted to get a new vehicle tomorrow, I couldn’t make the Previa disappear without his involvement, and the last thing I want is two cars to maintain.

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