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.