Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tina Bought a Road Bike

I'm sure I had a lot to do with this purchase. She enjoys her mountain bike, but I've been riding more and more road miles lately and we like to ride together. We looked at and test rode a couple of road bikes for her (Specialized, Trek and Giant). She was very impressed with how easy they all were to ride. The local bike shop - Bear Creek Cycles (formerly Dalton Bicycles) - had a 2007 model Giant OCR3 that she liked the best, so she put it in lay-away.

Tina had some travel money owed her, so when she got her travel check she brought the bike home. She's going to be a formidable road biker. We went riding yesterday (her second road ride) and she did great. It was a 12 mile out and back. I didn't tell her how far, because I knew she'd never agree that she could make it. I knew differently, and I was right.

She was proud of herself, I was too. I think it really boosted her confidence. I just wonder how long it will be before I'm struggling to keep up.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two Cars in Two Weeks

Car #1

Anyone that's seen me on the road has probably scratched their head in wonder. Why does he continue to drive that ugly, and beat up 1988 Ford Crown Victoria? Well, it was cheap. Heck, I got the car in a trade. I traded a guitar for that car, so the price was right, and it was super dependable for almost 10 years. The maintenance was negligible, and the gas mileage was probably a lot better than you'd have guessed. But nothing lasts forever, and there were a couple of issues that it had which caused me to not really want to drive it much anymore.

Last Christmas (2006) I was out shopping for gifts and I got a call from work. They needed me at one of the branches and it didn't matter that I was an hour away. So, I hurried to the branch and discovered that they had fixed their own problem about five minutes after they had initially called me and then didn't bother to call me back - saving me the trip. As I left the branch I noticed that the transmission slipped a little and by the time I got home it was slipping a lot. It was still driveable, and I drove it this way up until last week, but I certainly didn't want to strike out on a long trip with it. Yes, I could have fixed it, but as long as it got me back and forth to work I didn't see replacing or repairing the transmission on a car that was really soon to be replaced especially after this past Easter morning when Tina backed into the driver's side rear fender and left an enormous dent (her car was fine - not a scratch). So with the enormous dent, and flakey transmission I decided that it would be nice to have a car by winter.

My dad has been working for the local Ford dealership (Chatsworth Ford) as a driver (picks up and delivers cars) for about a year now, and has a good opportunity to find some great deals. He told me about a 2007 Ford Taurus SEL that he had driven and how impressed he was with it. Leather seats, sunroof, "Gold Ash" paint and all sorts of other niceties were probably enough to get me to think about it, but the 29MPG he reported getting with it on a trip he made in it was all I really needed to get me into the car.

Now knowing that I was willing to drive the 1988 Crown "Vic Jordan" (as my bandmates called it) for so long, you know I just don't like spending money on a car. It just seems like a bad place to put hard earned money. However, it does seem that there is a time that one must make this sort of expenditure. So, I did.

Car #2

About a week after buying the Taurus dad stops by the bank to show me another car. He asks, "Do you think Tina would like this car?" It's a Titanium Green Metallic 2006 Ford Fusion SEL. I think to myself, "How could she not?" I tell him I'll talk to her about it and we'll swing by the dealership after work to check it out and let her drive it.

We got to the Ford place just in time to see someone driving it off the lot for a test drive. Slight disappointment, but not a big deal if these other folks buy the car. There'll be more cars, and it's not like either Tina or I were set on buying it. A few minutes later the car comes back from it's test drive and we get to run it around the block.

Tina drove it, and really liked it. It had more than enough power, handled well, and had a smooth ride. I drove it back to the lot and we decided to buy it. It seemed like a simple decision. Her car was several years old and it was time to trade it in anyway, and now was a good time.

Tricks of the Trade?

We had bought a 2001 Ford Focus SE for her about 3 years ago. It was used, had very low miles, and was just what we needed at the time. She liked her Focus. We figured we would get about $4,000 in trade since it was still fairly low mileage and in good shape. What we didn't figure on was the question that was asked next. "When did you wreck your Focus?" Okay, we really didn't expect that question at all. Yeah, she put a dent in the Crown Vic at Easter, but remember there was no damage to the Focus at all. We quiz the buyer for the dealership a bit and he takes us out and shows us a couple of things. He had spotted a place on the drivers side fender that had been sanded and painted - it was obvious, and we wondered how we had missed it. It didn't seem like a big deal, but it was a clue that cause him to look elsewhere. Opening the hood he showed us where the whole front-end of the car had been painted. Not only painted, but the fenders had been removed, the front bracket had been removed, the hood had been removed, and the doors had been removed. We weren't quite sure how to feel - angry, sickened, and irritated came to mind. We are angry that this wasn't disclosed to us. We don't plan on visiting or recommending the dealer we purchased it from. I'd post a link, I'd say their name, but it's probably best left alone.

Neither Tina nor I knew anything about "Carfax" at the time - we do now. It's tempting to pull a Carfax report on the Focus, but honestly, I'm not sure I want to know what happened. I'm also not really interested in spending the $25 to find out about a car I don't have. I'm just glad the car gave us no problems and we didn't have an accident to find out if the repairs were done properly. Needless to say, this dropped the trade value a bit, but not horribly, because it was a 2001.

Tina really likes her new Fusion. She looks good in it. It's a little smaller than the Taurus, and a lot roomier than her Focus was. It's a very nice car, with a lot of comfort features that I know she'll enjoy. It has a 6 disc changer, climate control, 4 wheel disc brakes, 24V DOHC V6, and a 6 speed automatic transmission (very smooth). It seems to get really good gas mileage too. No, it doesn't get the same mileage the Focus did, but we both work less than a mile from home, so we're not buying a lot of gas anyway. I'm happy for her too, and it's probably best that she's driving the Fusion; with that much under the hood I'd get in trouble before the week was out.

So, there's the story, two cars in two weeks. I guess we can now be counted among those that have car payments, and I'm slowly coming to terms with that... at least until the payments start coming due. My main comfort is we allowed someone else to be the first owners, thus absorbing the new car price.

Oh, and by the way, both cars checked out clean on Carfax.