Monday, November 16, 2015

New wheels

Our car died over the summer.

I can't blame it, really. We have beat the holy tar out of this baby. Years of driving it on our rough pot-hole-y road, through snow and slush and mud, over rocks and ridges, took its toll.

But it was the electrical system that finally gave out, apparently a fault of Hyundais late in their life. A mechanic gave us a quote for repair that made us realize we would be putting more into the car than it was worth.

So there it sat in the driveway for several months, in a nonworking state, while we saved money for another vehicle and drove my brother's car in the meantime. This borrowed vehicle, while we're grateful for its use, is entirely unsuited to our long-term needs, being a low-slung two-wheel-drive sedan.

But what to do with our faithful old car? It somehow seemed heartless to give it to a wrecking yard. So instead we donated it to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane, an outstanding privately-funded organization which rehabilitates homeless people and helps them acquire life skills.

We knew the car would be repaired (and would teach mechanical skills to someone in the process) then sold (which would financially assist the organization), so we were left feeling pretty good about the fate of our faithful old beastie.

But with winter coming, getting a suitable vehicle for our needs became a priority, otherwise we could find ourselves stranded (our rough dirt road can become difficult to maneuver in winter conditions). Finally this week we felt we had enough cash to go car shopping. Our only requirements: four-wheel drive, high clearance, and a hatchback. Beyond that, we weren't too fussy.

Don looked long and hard at various makes and models, learning what lines had a history of trouble or a tendency toward pricey repairs. He teamed up with a mechanically-inclined neighbor, and on Friday they went to look at a variety of vehicles for sale.

Later, while working in the garden, I saw this car driving down the road:

Could this be it? Turns out, yes. The men were back in a much shorter amount of time than I anticipated, and both were gleeful. After looking at a couple of private-sale cars, it seems they made an impulsive stop in a very small-town car lot which had just one vehicle meeting the above three requirements (four-wheel drive, high clearance, hatchback). Not only was the car in sound mechanical shape, but it was priced at a much lower cost than we had budgeted (which will allow us to purchase studded tires for winter and have a mechanic make any necessary repairs).

So meet our new car: a 2000 Dodge Durango with 170,000 miles. It even has a tow package. It's a bit bigger of a vehicle than we discussed getting, but hey, the price was right and it runs terrific.

Don did a bit of research after the fact -- namely, a CarFax report -- and came away even more pleased than before. This particular vehicle has only had two previous owners; one had it for 13 years, the other less than two. It needed no major repairs, nor did it undergo any trauma (floods, accidents, body damage, etc.). For Dodge Durangos in general, it seems most people are highly satisfied with them.

It won't get the same gas mileage our old Hyundai got, but the fact of the matter is we don't drive that much. It's not like we have a commute. But the times we do drive, we often need cargo capacity (bags of chicken feed, or mineral blocks, or a month's worth of groceries, etc.).

With care, we're hoping to get a good ten or more years out of this baby. I'm thankful Don and our neighbor made that impulsive stop.


  1. Score!

    I'm really happy for you guys!

    I think you're gonna love your new ride. Dodge is a good product.

    A. McSp

  2. If you don't drive alot, I think you will like the extra space. I have a small 4wd hatchback and I run into times where it isn't big enough, but I like getting good gas mileage since I drive alot.

  3. You are definitely blessed........she is beautiful and should be a good sturdy "beastie" for you.

  4. Happy, happy, happy!

  5. Mercy, we are jealous (still chaining up our old rear wheel drive pickup). It's good to see folks who really get the life out of their vehicles. Actually I kind of feel sorry for folks who just trade every few years. Money can make life easier, but not necessarily better. Good luck with your new Dodge. She is a beauty..
    Montana Guy

  6. God is faithful to supply our needs, often times going above and beyond our expectations. Looks like a great find - enjoy!!

  7. I LOVE my 1999 Durango SLT. It has towed my horse trailer, been loaded to the roof when traveling across Kansas, and taken loads of kids on trips. It get 16mph consistently--we live in the country--and service has been minimal compared to our fussy F-150. She's got more parking lot scars than paint in some places and the leather seats looks a bit worn, but she is my 'go to' for going to town. I'm gonna hate it when she finally asks for retirement.

  8. I don't own a Durango, but I do love my Dodge Grand Caravan. I have a few friends who are likewise enamored of theirs.

    My dad was extremely fond of his Dodge Dakota.

    Despite the fact that it doesn't fit my lifestyle, I will always be a compact car kind of gal. Since I can't have that, though, I love me some Dodge. The GC has made a convert out of a loyal Chevy woman.

  9. Nice car. I have a 2000 Dodge P U I use as a snowplow truck and it is a fine truck so I expect yours will be also. however, one caveat, put on some mud flaps, BiG mudflaps, and that will protect the underbody and rocker panels and extend it's life significantly.---ken

  10. Happy that you're happy with your Durango. I do not however think you should rely on CarFax. Our son had an accident, not his fault, used Insurance money for repairs. Traded the car in. A couple of weeks later checked CarFax - stated the car had NOT been in any accidents. So very not true.

  11. We have a Durango and I won't ever drive any other SUV again. Awesome in snow, ice, sand, you name it. I have put it through the wringer and she's still going strong. You're gonna love it!

  12. My parents have had a Durango for about 15 years now. It has also taken its fair share of abuse and hauled an awful lot of feed. My mom loves her car, but she does have one issue with it. She can't see people standing on the right hand side crosswalks when stopped at a stop sign, because of the framing around the front window. I normally go with her when she is going to a heavily populated town, because it really takes the two of us looking around each intersection to make sure its clear.
    I hope your model has a different window frame.

  13. We had a 2000 Dodge Dakota. It was sold to our son at 90K miles and was running like a top with no problems until a drunk rear ended it and totaled the poor thing. Thankfully our son was on a job site at the time and was not in the vehicle during the accident. It had something like 150K miles at the time and still ran like a top. I think you have one of the good years for the Dodge folks.

  14. Patrice,

    Enjoy your new SUV! Having an SUV really does come in handy when transporting large items.

  15. Patrice I drove a ford f150 for YEARS and beat the tar out of it here on our farm. Every time I changed the oil, I would add slick 50 or similar product. The truck eventually was not cost effective to drive on road (inspections etc..) tried to sell it, guy only wanted to give me 300 bucks. He did a compression check on the engine it was like brand new. That stuff really works... : )

  16. I had an 03 Durango, that I bought in 2005 for my wife. The thing was a horrible vehicle. The month after the warranty expired the water pump went out and left me stranded. I tried to explain to the guy at the dealership that the water pump broke, the fan come off and he said it was not possible. I gave up on the dealership and just went to NAPA and got a new water pump. After I fixed that the transmission went out. I had it fixed. About a year later it went out again and I had it fixed again. The third time the transmission went out it was still under the shop's 6 month warranty. It didn't make it that long. It developed a crack in the block and was leaking oil into the coolant and coolant into the oil. The dealership said it was a mercedes engine not a mopar engine so they would have to order it. They wanted almost $9,000 for a new engine. This was in 2008 when gas prices were through the roof and the durango was getting 15MPG on the highway and 10 in town, if I was lucky. I decided it wasn't worth it and tried to trade it in. No one wanted it. I tried buying new vehicles and the dealerships still refused to take my Durango as a trade no one would buy it because it got such bad gas mileage and gas prices were so high. Finally I found a place that would take it as a donation (most of them didn't want it either.) But the night before they were coming to pick it up I put it down at the end of the driveway and somebody run off the road and hit it. They didn't have insurance and I only had liability. Now the place that was coming to pick it up didn't want it either. I ended up getting $500 for scrap metal, for a vehicle I had bought for $18,500 just 6 years prior. I have and never will own any mopar vehicle ever again. I suggest you get rid of that durango as soon as you can. I have a 98 F150 that I bought brand new in 1998. The thing has never needed anything but basic routine maintenance and is still running strong today. My wife got a an 08 Honda CRV after that demon possessed durango and surprisingly it is still running great.

  17. Had one and in addition to transmission, major engine problems, and horrible fuel economy the window regulators used to break in wintertime. The window would fall down and you couldn't put it back up. Mine would overheat, even in ND, in the middle of winter, what a total piece of junk. The heater for the back seats went out and the water pump went out. I hated that thing.

  18. Despite the fact that some people feel the urge to make negative comments about a car someone else just bought (why!?), best of luck with your new SUV! We've had (and have) various Dodge minivans and SUVs and have had good luck all around.