Saturday, August 4

My Husband Is a Soccer Mom

Oh my. So much has happened in the last week; it feels like an eternity has passed. I think I'll sum it up with the end of the story first (but you know I am Wordy, so I'll fill in the blanks after): We sold the Prius. We bought a minivan. I am now driving the Mazda, while Andrew is taking the minivan. We're 30, have two children, have stable jobs, and live in the suburbs. Eight years ago, you could not have convinced me that this would be my life, but there you have it. And I've never been happier.

But this post is not really about my station in life. It's about an incredibly stressful week and the quick turn for the worse the Prius took. You may remember my very recent post about the brake issue? After spending so much money on a repair and discovering that hundreds of dollars of other repairs were needed (namely the leaking water pump), we decided it was time to start thinking about selling the Prius and fulfilling Andrew's lifelong dream of being a soccer mom. We figured we'd sell the car in a year or two, no rush.

Ha! Hahahaha.

It was not long before Andrew began scouring craigslist for used Kia Sedonas. We wanted one that was still pretty new (2010 or newer preferably) without a ton of miles. And lo and behold, he soon found a 2011 model with 24,000 miles. It was in amazing shape and was only being sold because the lovely family that owned it was dealing with some unexpected medical issues and the bills were piling up. When we went to check it out, it was obvious how much they adored the van. They bragged about its features as if they were talking about their children.

We decided maybe it was time to go for the van and sell the Prius now. Why wait a couple more years when more things might go wrong, right? Should have knocked on some wood.

We made an offer on the Kia and began moving money from various accounts into our checking account so we could actually pay them. And we set the wheels in motion to sell the Prius. Andrew took it in to the shop last Monday to get the water pump fixed and an oil change. We figured we'd have an easier time selling it if it was all fixed up. A couple hours after leaving it at the shop, Andrew got a call from the mechanic. "You probably ought to just come out here. There's a whole bunch wrong with the car, but it'd be easier just to show you rather than explain it over the phone."


As it turned out, the struts were totally shot. I am bad at routine maintenance, and they should have been replaced ten thousand miles earlier. Whoops. The bad struts were causing the tires to wear extremely unevenly, to the point where my non-car-guy husband could immediately see that there was a major problem. It was kind of a wonder that none of the tires had blown already considering the damage.

(Quick time-out: I am furious at Toyota, specifically Hendrick Toyota at 67th and I-35, for doing a "complete diagnostic work-up" and failing to notice to the struts or the tires. Did the trained mechanic really not notice something that even Andrew could see, or did the Toyota tech ignore the problem intentionally? I can come up with no reason not to tell us. And I am half relieved/half terrified that the tires were so close to exploding but didn't.)

Nearly $1000 later, we had a fixed water pump, changed oil, and four new tires. The struts were just going to have to wait, because our wallets couldn't take it. (Did I mention that we're doing a bunch of landscaping right now and found quite a bit of termite damage? Good times!) Selling the Prius quickly was starting to sound better and better. Quick, before anything else breaks!

The next day (I kid you not, it was really the next day), I was on my way to my mom's house and all these warning lights suddenly flash on the dashboard. Car silhouettes with bold red exclamation marks and codes I couldn't begin to decipher appeared. I stopped as soon as I could, at a nearby McDonald's, and looked in the owner's manual. The VCS, vehicle stability control, was having a problem. The manual told me to stop driving immediately and contact my Toyota dealer. Terrific.

I called Andrew in tears. He calmed me down. Yes, this sucks. But Olive and I were just fine, and we'll get through it. It's just money. A whole lot of money going out the door. When I haven't earned a paycheck in six months. But it's just money. Okay, calm. I called my mom to pick us up, called AAA to get another tow. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Sigh. (The tow truck guy commented on the tires. "Those look pretty new," he said. "Yes," I said. "We got them yesterday." He clearly pitied me.)

Turned out the coolant was low. May not have been as dire as the warning lights indicated, but could have led to an overheated engine which is never good. Especially in 100+ degree heat, I imagine.

Once again, Toyota, in their amazing diagnostic work, failed to mention the broken struts, which I complained about. I got a weak apology and a lot of empty excuses.

We decided we must sell that car. Forget listing it on craigslist, we couldn't wait that long or afford to make the required fixes. Or wait for a buyer who would take it as is. So we asked Toyota what they'd pay for a car already on their lot. First the offer was $3500. Then the guy discovered the car was driveable and offered $6500. We said we were getting a quite from Carmax too, and he went up to $7000. Sketchy, since all this was based on nothing, not having even checked out the car in question.

We took the Prius over to Carmax, and after a practically enjoyable experience, got a $7000 offer. I cleaned out all the junk that afternoon, and that evening, I drove my (formerly) beloved car for the last time. A bittersweet moment, handing over the keys and the title. That was my first grown-up car; it carried me almost 92,000 miles across the country. But I had become scared to drive it. Every time I turned it on, I drove with hands clenched on the steering wheel, anxiously anticipating the moment when something else would go wrong. And that's not any way to drive.

Two days later, we officially purchased our Kia. And so far, we're loving it. It still surprises me to see a minivan out on the driveway, but I must be the slow one to adapt. Even Milo is already used to calling the van "Daddy's car" and the car that was once Andrew's car "Mommy's car." I'm just glad the whole thing is over. I had enough to worry about this week before any of this car stuff happened. Did you know I'm going back to work Tuesday? But let's chat about that in another post. This one is clearly too long already. (Thanks to both my blog readers for sticking with it.)


Courtney said...

Wow, what a week! Dealing with car repair stuff has to be among the least favorite, most stressful situations, at least for me. I am glad that you are able to keep your sense of humor about it, at least a few days after the fact.

But welcome to the minivan world! Feels like a pretty significant parenting milestone, huh? Hope you love your Kia--what color is it? Next time we're in town it will be fun to see how long it takes Austin to notice that your van is the same as ours; his perception of detail when it comes to cars is uncanny.

Emoly said...

Geez. What's with that car breaking on its way to your mom's house? It'll all be okay. Talk to soon!

Grandma Susan said...

I'm anxious to see your new ride. And I'm sure it was just coincidence that it broke down both times coming to my house!

Judy Fisher-fellows said...

Megan, my fiend, Jody, also has a Prius and the water pump went out on it. It was still under warranty. I hope yours was. Cars can be expensive maintenance. Good luck with the van.