AutoMaker Restructuring

A charismatic, major world leader, who came to leadership through a campaign of change, nationalized a domestic auto manufacturer and dictated that they need to build more fuel-efficient cars that the common man can easily afford. He specified how these cars should be constructed and that they should do this restructuring for the good of the people, the economy, and for the country overall. He ostracized the company’s head executive in the process.

Sound familiar? Keep reading.

The auto manufacturer was instructed to build a car that would carry five people, get 33-mpg, could easily cruise public highways and stay well within the budget of the average household. He suggested that they call this new car “People’s Car.”

In the short term, this led to a new car company, run by the national government, which produced many military and civilian vehicles. They were well-built cars that were ultimately built in several countries and driven the world over. They were produced in several different body and engine configurations.

Over the course of the next 75-years, this automotive manufacturer developed and produced hundreds of thousands of cars that many drivers own and love.

What car am I talking about? Not Ford. Not Chrysler. Not General Motors.

This one.

What world leader am I referring to? Not the one you initially thought.

This one.

Reference.

Change you can believe in?

Car Battery

It looks like we’ve got to get a battery for the freaking car.  The battery in there now has been there for about two years.  The car is only five years old.  The original battery croaked in a typical 3-year span, so I slapped the Optima from one of the project cars in it.  That Yellow-top is probably eight years old, and has been in at least three cars (that I can think of ) now.  I knew that we were going to have to replace it, but I really wanted to put that off until after we had paid our taxes.  But, alas – its time in this world is quickly drawing to a close.  My connections are clean, and it runs down within minutes of the headlights being on even if I have trickle-charged it for a good 24-hours.  It’s a lot worse in the cold than when it’s warm outside.  This morning, I forgot to turn the lights off when I stopped for gas.  Approximately five minutes of gas-pumping is all it took to discharge it to the point that the keyturn produced one, mournful “rurch” of a crank.  I had to ask for help from a complete stranger in the not-so-good side of town.  Fortunately, the guy who I asked was willing and compassionate to my plight.  I think I’m going to get a new battery just down the street from my workplace at the battery store.  I really didn’t want to be out the money right now, but that’s what happens when we let these things plan themselves.  I don’t want to put it off for so long that it kills my alternator as well.  Those Nissan alternators are NOT CHEAP!

100,000-miles

For the first time ever, my wife and I have managed to roll a car’s odometer over the 100,000-mile mark. Neither of us has ever had a new car. Most of the cars that I’ve owned have had over 100K on them when they have entered my possession. We’ve seen several cross that wondrous 200,000-mile mark, and we have had one intrepid little BMW 3-series that we managed to get well over the 300,000-mile marker. When we passed that one on, it had something in the neighborhood of 350,000 miles on it. We had to replace the differential twice, it had a salvaged 5-speed gearbox in it, but the original, un-molested engine would purr like a kitten, despite all of its fluid leaks.

At that point in time, we had two non-running Civics (which have since found new homes), a Prelude in a jillion pieces all over the garage (still there), and the BMW. Jenni had the BMW parked at work when a co-worker decided to slam her Jeep into it. The car was still very usable, but it was clear that we did not want to put the time, effort, or money into fixing the car to see how much beyond that 1/3 million miles we could push it. I worked at a Ford dealership at the time, and someone had just traded in their sub-one-year-old Nissan Sentra on a new 3/4-ton pickup (right before the initial massive gas price creep in 2005).

I saw that little 2004 Nissan Sentra SE-R SpecV and decided to look a little more closely at it. The insurance company had made a repair estimate on the BMW, and we started looking into what options we had. The Sentra was new enough that it still had a factory warranty on it. I want to say that it has something like 25,000 miles on the clock. The dealership quoted me a price that was quite attractive. Yes, we could have gotten a new Sentra for that price, but it would not have been the high-compression 2.5-liter mated to a 6-speed mixer atop a stiff suspension with aluminum alloys wrapped around enormous Brembo brakes. It would have simply been a drowsy people mover.

Jenni and I took the car for a test drive one day after work. We had been looking for something light and nimble, with four doors and five seatbelts, newer than anything that we had previously driven, with a little more punch under the hood than your typical people-mover, and we still wanted it to get decent gas mileage. Check, check, check, check, check, check, and check. It looked like we had a winner! We inquired about a trade-in on the beat-up BMW. They told us that they might be able to give us $500.00 on it. I looked at the possibility of selling the Bimmer outright, and it looked like we would be lucky to get $1200.00 out of it in its well-used condition. As it turned out, we donated the old car to a single mother in need through AM Vets or some such organization so we could write it’s book value off our taxes.

We were able to get a good loan through our credit union, and used our insurance settlement as a down payment. About a year ago, we were able to refinance the car for a far lower interest rate. The car is sitting just outside the office right now with 100,005-miles on the odometer. To date, we have done fluid and filter changes, replaced the radiator hoses, several sets of tires, replaced the front and rear brake pads on only one occasion, had it in the body shop twice, and it has had two repairs under factory recalls. There is an exhaust hanger that I need to replace, and now it needs spark plugs, an accessory belt, another oil change, an air filter, and another 100K-miles, apparently!

This has been a great car. I really miss my Hondas, but we have enjoyed this Nissan. Honestly, I miss the wagon format. I’m not crazy about owning a black car, and would not have purchased this one had it not nearly dropped into our laps. It’s difficult to fault it for reliability or a nagging maintenance schedule. I would eventually like to do some performance work to it. A turbocharger would be nice, but I wouldn’t even need to go that extreme to give it a little more oomph. If we did that, I would probably de-badge it and put those cheesy brake-dust shields under the wheels to hide the giant, Italian calipers and make it a real sleeper.

Perhaps in 2012, when we have run it over the 200,000-mile mark, we will trade it in on some high-strung micro-wagon in a non-neutral color. Until then, I look forward to many more years of this car serving the family.

Impeach? You’ve got to be kidding me!

I’ve been seeing bumper stickers like this for a while now. You know, I’m a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinion, but this is just plain dumbassity! Sentiments like this are much akin to “I’m going to sue you even if I have to take it to the Supreme Court!” Yeah – you do that, dumbass.

It’s like this: Should someone go to jail because you don’t like them? Let’s say that your neighbor really pisses you off. You can say all kinds of nasty things about them, but what if they aren’t doing anything illegal or wrong? If the cops came and hauled them off, I hope your conscience would pang just a little bit. This is exactly what these “special” drivers are suggesting we do. They are suggesting that their dislike of our President is grounds for criminal charges on him. I’m sorry, but that is beyond the scope of everyone having their own stupid opinion. To me, that viewpoint is more criminal than what they are claiming against the man.

As these thoughts were taking on their current structure, I was reminded of my wife selling bumper stickers on her blog. I thought that I might try my hand at it as well. So, to all of you who know these people, and want to help re-direct them to not look so ignorant of due process and the way checks and balances work, I submit this jewel for your approval:


create & buy custom products at Zazzle

You can simply place this bumper sticker over the top of the offending, dumbass bumper sticker that they currently have. It works great if you buy a used car that it pre-decorated in all kinds of rhetorical tripe. It’s not just for political stickers, either! If you have a preowned car that you have been unable to remove the “Keep Honking: I’m Reloading” or “I Brake for Blondes” sticker from, this can be like an apologetic white-out for your car. Old bumper stickers can get stubborn, after all.

Heck, this one works on the other side of the fence as well! From poll records to current approval ratings, a little over a quarter of our country’s people who voted for G. W. B. TWICE has since changed their minds about him. Do you need to cover up that embarrassing “Bush 04” sticker? No big deal. You can use my sticker to say that it was a major FAIL on your part (although I would still have to disagree with you).

Anyway, I hope that both of my readers get a good laugh out of this post. If you both buy a sticker, I’ll even earn $.80!

Cars & Money

I saw this today in a link that my wife sent to me. I have to believe that the study is oddly slanted. I just hired a carrier to haul a trailer to Oregon at $1.40/mile. He was driving an F340, Super Duty, 4×4, crew cab, long-bed dually. This study shows the average cost per mile for F-Series pickups at $2.392. What they are saying is that in order for Customer A to get enough out of the vehicle to make it worthwhile for that kind of hire, Customer B must be losing money on it like mad, in order for the average to come out to this number. Similarly, I know very well that my wife and I aren’t spending $.962/mile on our Sentra when you include gas, payment, insurance, and all maintenance; and it would be in the high end of the model comparison, being the SE-R Spec-V, the hot one in the family. Furthermore, I can’t see a Viper and an Avalon being nearly the same cost per mile over the course of their lifetimes. This just in: don’t buy an Armada, splurge the extra 0.26% lifetime cost and get the Lamborghini. They’re practically the same price in the long run!