Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Loser Car Number One And Two

I owned two loser cars in my life.  Both have stories, and this is over car number one.

Somewhere around 1993 (Feb, I think), my wife needed a car.  I talked into buying a $1,000 car from the base 'for-sale' lot.  It was a 12-year old VW Rabbit.  There was some rust but overall, it was decent deal.....I thought.

The first issue occurred three weeks after the purchase.  She'd taken the kid and driven to Trier (a 20-mile ride), and discovered while pulling into a parking lot....that the brakes were gone.  Absolutely gone.  Somehow, she brought the car to a stop, and was able to call me.  I came down with the good car.  The brake cylinder was 'gone'.  If you pushed the brakes absolutely to the floor, you could get 20-percent of the braking value.  I made the silly decision of driving the car back to Bitburg (that was really stupid but somehow I made it), while she drove the good car.

All total to fix it at the base garage?  Roughly $600.

Six weeks would pass and a radiator issue occurred.  A hole, to be precise.  I had a cheapo mechanic that I found....that would put a new radiator into it.....from some non-official source.  That was roughly $200.  Later, I would figure out that this replacement radiator was used.

At this point, there was bad karma with the car and my wife refused to drive the VW, and took my car instead.

Two weeks would pass, and then I'd have these carburetor issues.  With a two-hundred dollar visit to the mechanic.....he said there was rust in the gas tank.  He put a extra filter between the tank and the carburetor, and gave me two spare filters.  He simply said.....I might need the spares.

Two weeks would pass after that, and I had to put in the next filter....because of clogging issues.

By the 5th month, I had a flat tire.  I was lucky.....that was only $25 for a brand new tire.

Over the course of June, July and August.....I had it towed to the base garage twice....because of clogging issues related to the rust.

By October, the mechanic at the garage suggested that I go and get a used tank off some junker and just replace the whole thing.  I wasted three hours looking for the right model, but the junk guy discussed the matter with me and suggested this was all a wasted effort.

In November.....I added up the whole year in cost for a $1,000 car.....I'd spent near $1,800 in various expenses for this junker.  I had violated one of the prime rules of when to dump a junker.

My boss was leaving in December and talked me into buying his car.  The deal was $200 for the car and a satellite receiver.  The receiver was worth $125, so you can guess the actual value of this Mercedes I was buying.  It had sat in a barn for six years.....had loads of rust on the right fender....but was a 12-year old luxury model Mercedes.  I dumped my VW at the base junk yard and felt happy with the new junker.

From the interior prospective, this was the dream car.  Big, bulky, automatic, tons of power, and you could cruise the autobahn at 160 kph (110 mph) easily.  The trunk was big enough to cram 40 cases of beer (my best estimate).  The seats were the million-dollar seats that you dream of.....and the engine barely made any real noise at high speeds.

The issue in the beginning?  The inspection of the vehicle.  You see....when I say rust on the fender....it's not a little bit.....it's MASSIVE. So I spent almost $300 on a whole new fender, which was unpainted and just tossed on in 16 minutes by some mechanic for cash.  The inspection went great and I was given two more years on the vehicle.  I felt happy.

For five months, I drove the ugly green colored "Beast".  I was happy.....no maintenance issues.

Then one day.....a slight thump-thump-thump noise occurred.  My new mechanic in Ramstein looked at it....cracked axle.  If I could find a junker axle at the yard.....he'd do the job for $600.  I just shook my head....it made no sense.  I loved the car and probably would have kept it for five years but I wasn't going to violate the quarter of the value for repairs in one year rule again.  So, I dumped the Mercedes at the local junk yard (I had to actually pay them $25 to take it).

Oddly, these are the only two losers that I've come to own in my life.

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