Apr. 21st, 2009 05:53 pm
tnrkitect: (Default)
[personal profile] tnrkitect
Where to begin.

For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, or just have read recently, I will give a concise explanation for the sigh.

A bit of background first.

In 1995, I bought a Ford Ranger (XLT trim, 4 cyl, 5 spd, AC, 60/40 split bench seat, AM/FM/Cassette Radio, Split sliding rear window, alloy wheels, 7 ft. bed) new off of the dealer's lot. New, because for whatever reason, I was not a good enough credit risk to get a loan for a used vehicle, but I was a good enough risk for a new vehicle. Go figure.

This truck served me well up until Saturday morning when I sold it with 234,000 some odd miles on it. It was beginning to show its age, and although still dependable, there were enough hints that stuff was going to need to be replaced soonish, that I felt it was time to let it go. Also factoring into the equation was the issue of Jessica not being able to drive a stick, and being afraid to learn in the city traffic. Plus, getting groceries in the rain was a pain, not to mention it was difficult to take anyone else along with the two of us, unless they want to either a) ride in the bed, or b) squeeze in with us like sardines.

Now, my sister a few years ago was given a 1991 Chrysler Le Baron Convertible. ( http://www.allpar.com/eek/LeBaronCoupe.html for a history and pictures, it looks like the one at the top of the page, only black.)

At one point someone before her had put it into a ditch, or something similar. This is conjecture, based on the "whiskey mark" scrape/dent on the drivers fender, the dent on the bottom of the driver's side mirror, a few other dings of similar nature, and the fact that two of the rims are warped.

Also, at one point someone in her church backed into her and busted out a tail light. Rather than just pay to fix the light (which was only the running light, not the brake light) they offered to pay for a new convertible top, which it needed. (I have managed to snag a replacement lens off of e-bay for $25 along with a boot cover designed to cover the top when it is down for $12.50. SCORE!!!!!!)

While she was driving it, it began to develop some BAD oil leaks, so she parked it, not having the money to get it fixed. Then she went off to Peru as a missionary for a year. Now that she is back in the states, she was wanting to get rid of it as it was undriveable with the leak, and she has obtained another car.

I did a little research, and discovered that the 3.0 liter V6 in the Le Baron's are very dependable, and tend to last for 300,000 miles with proper maintenance. So, I bought the car from her, contingent upon the repairs to fix any problems on the motor and major systems being in our budget. I had them take it to their local Chrysler dealership, as the repair work is warrantied nationwide. They checked the car out (what I thought was thoroughly), and after discussing the repairs it needed, I approved them doing the work. I essentially had the 100,000 mile service done on the vehicle, along with some repairs.

New battery, new air filter, fuel induction service (cleaning out the carbon build-up in the intake manifold), new spark plugs, new spark plug wires, new rotor, new distributor cap, new valve cover gaskets, new oil pan gasket, new oil sending unit, coolant flush, new drive belt, new timing belt, new water pump, replaced front brake pads (reason for bolding explained later), transmission service (flush, fluid change, filter, and gasket), complete chassis and suspension lube, oil change and oil filter. Total cost was about $2,200 +/-.

It also needed tires (belts sticking out) but I decided not to pay the dealer cost for those, and had mom get them at the tire store she normally gives her business to. ($300)

Three weeks ago, Jessica and I drove down to Alabama and picked it up. On the drive back, the truck got GREAT gas mileage, 27.76 mpg, but the car beat it, with 30.4 mpg. I have driven it daily (with one or two exceptions) since we got it up here, and it performed beautifully. So, I decided to sell the truck, and use the proceeds from it to repair the air conditioning. (Black car with black roof in summer in the hot and humid South? Not a good idea).

For those of you saying, "But you NEED a truck to haul stuff!", I will remind you that I have a 6 ft x 9 ft covered utility trailer. I will also inform you that the Le Baron has a 3,500 lb towing capacity as opposed to the 1,500 pound capacity of the truck.

Anyways, this past Saturday morning, I sold the truck. My dad was visiting, and he was interested in seeing the houses in the the area, and it was a GORGEOUS day, made for driving around in a convertible, so we loaded in and drove all over North Knoxville, North Hills, and Fountain City. We finally decided to head back home, and on the way back, the brakes went out.

I'm talking pedal to the floor, barely able to stop, brake lights on out.

We limped the car back home, and jacked it up to take a look see.

The left front brake caliper had seized up, and the ensuing heat not only warped the rotor, but also boiled all of the grease out of the wheel bearing, but also out of the tie rod knuckle. The master cylinder had lost fluid in one chamber, which pointed to a leak in the system somewhere. As it was not leaking in the front, we decided to check the rear brakes out as well.

We discovered that one of the springs in the rear drum hardware was broken and had been for quite a while, judging by the deep V groove it had worn into the drum. The brake cylinder was leaking, and the wheel bearings were shot as well. When we attempted to get new drums, we discovered that the drum was either seized onto the wheel hub, or was all one piece. The parts stores (we checked them all) only carried the drum separate from the hub, and did not carry the hub itself.

We didn't even attempt to pull the other rear wheel, as there was no real point to trying to repair it ourselves since we couldn't get the parts without going to the dealer (who was closed until Monday), and nether dad nor I were able to spend this week rebuilding everything. There's this thing called work, you know? So, we put it all back together as it was.

Monday morning, I had it towed to the local dealer (they were just as expensive as everyone else's quotes) to have them check over the system, then went and rented a car until it was fixed. (I sold the truck, remember?)

Well, after going through the brake system thoroughly, the dealer called me with the bad news. Both front calipers, both rear drums, wheel bearings all around, a new tie rod end, new rear wheel cylinders, new drum hardware, new brake shoes, new brake pads, and a new master cylinder.
Total cost, just under $1,800.


Luckily, the proceeds from the truck combined with part of our emergency fund will cover it. But, still.


And to top it all off, I had a dentist appointment today and got three cavities filled.

Anyways, that was my weekend.

How was yours?

Date: 2009-04-22 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pms-inc.livejournal.com
I'm so grateful you were able to stop the car somehow!! That is one of my top 5 fears in life... #1 is being inside a car that falls/rolls into a big body of water.

Sorry for your financial woes on this one. I hope once fixed that it will give you many miles of pleasure!

Date: 2009-04-22 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tnrkitect.livejournal.com
Yes, it had better behave from now on.

Date: 2009-04-22 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] leenah.livejournal.com
first off, i'm most thrilled that you were around Fountain City, 'cause i recognize that name from childhood.

(yes, it's all about ME.)

after that, you are safe and unhurt and the car is repairable, and a CONVERTIBLE, damn. a convertible here is STUPID. there? way nifty.

facebook??? go friend me there already! i hardly ever look at it, but still. sheesh.

i hate dentistry. praise be for valium, without which i would never have any serious dental procedure done.

Date: 2009-04-22 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tnrkitect.livejournal.com
Yes, it is. And I have always LOVED convertibles. I blame my mom for that, she always had MG Midgets when I was growing up, and while I was in Kansas, I had a MG B. The only car I wish I had never gotten rid of. :-(

Date: 2009-04-22 02:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sonria.livejournal.com


Date: 2009-04-22 02:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tnrkitect.livejournal.com
Thanks. *hugs back*

Date: 2009-04-22 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] seeds-of-peace.livejournal.com
read this whole thing... man! bummer!! my weekend stunk but mainly because i was sick the whole time and i got a bill for over $1000 for a damn ER visit :\


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