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Joshua Sharf

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« Carnival of the Capitalists | Main | Disappointed »

Gasket Case

So, when I was up in the mountains for Thanksgiving, I got the car onto some snow. While I was looking for a good place to turn around and get off the snow, it got stuck. In the process of rocking it back and forth, all in low gear, of course, I overheated the engine, blowing off about half the antifreeze.

Now I had thought about just leaving the car there to tow, but it was Friday afternoon, snow was predicted for the weekend, and I was fairly sure that if I didn't get the thing out of there now, I wouldn't see it again until the retreating glacier disgorged it in May.

So, it was 30 miles in high gear and coasting back to Basalt, which apparently managed to fry the head gasket.

The old car was good to me, although it had almost 130K on it, and things were starting to break. But it's been a long, slow, frustrating funeral, and both it and I deserve better.

The last time I bought a new car, it was fairly simple. I had had three Ford Escorts in a row, and wanted to move up, to the Contour. (The Sebring convertible was out of my price range, and I wanted something new, not used.) I decided I wanted last year's model, but new, with a power option package, and a stick. I called a Ford dealership in the area, they located the one such car left between the Mississippi and the Continental Divide, and - lucky me! - it was on south Broadway. I looked up the invoice price of the car and options in Edmunds, added a couple of hundred dollars, and that was that.

This time, I had two possible models in mind, the Jeep Wrangler and the Subaru Outback. Very different cars, but both with good off-road capability and each with certain advantages. Thus far, I've test-driven 7 cars at 5 different dealerships, with one more left to go. Since used cars are on the menu this time, I've spent more time on the Net doing research than I thought humanly possible.

While some of the dealerships seem staffed by normal people, others display that schizophrenia which the manager and the salesman blame on each other. I have been invited down to take a long test-drive, only to be told that they wanted to run credit first. I have been quoted a number, only to be told that it was just an example. I've had a Nissan dealer tell me that he had no way of finding out the sale date of the Jeep he wanted to sell me. (Hey, bud, ever heard of CarFax?) A couple of dealerships have treated me well, showing me their invoices, and another let me take a Wrangler home overnight. But I gotta tell you, it's a real mixed bag.

I'm finally down to three cars, and if I don't hear back from the owner of that last one, I'm down to two.

I cannot tell you how happy I will be when this is over.

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