Only 11 more to go

At the end of April 2009 we acquired 48 months of car payments. We bought a 2006 Grand Caravan with 24,000 miles on it and I wrote this post about it.

I thought I would update that post with my thoughts over the past 3 years of ownership

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We had looked at 2008 version in an electric blue first & I liked it more. But I didn’t like it $4000 more. It had the same mileage & I like the radio better. I mostly liked that it was electric blue.

Because there are exactly zero electric blue mini vans in the Wal Mart parking lot at any given time.

But silver?

You can’t swing a cat without hitting a silver mini van in the Wal Mart parking lot.

However it does have electric doors, so I can stand in the general vicinity of several silver mini vans, push the remote & then go to whichever one’s door opens.

***2010*** This losing-the-car-in-the-parking-lot thing is pretty much a monthly occurrence. I regularly find myself standing next to a silver minivan, pressing the remote unlock button & wondering if the battery on the remote has died because the door remains locked. It isn’t until I actually look in the van that I realize it isn’t mine. Then I start walking around pressing the rear door button on the remote until it opens & I can finally locate my own minivan

***2011*** I’m still doing this on a regular basis. “Look for the silver mini van!” has become the standing joke in our family

***2012*** I’m really starting to think that $4000 would have been a small price to pay to be able to find the damn mini van in the parking lot without wandering all over the place clicking the remote at every single other silver one I encounter. Next car we buy will be in a highly unusual color if it is minivan.

Mayhem loves the electric doors. He pushes the button & then stands in the doorway waiting until the last possible second to leap through the gap, like Indiana Jones.

Assuming Indiana Jones would have anything to do with a mini van.

***2010*** Mayhem gave this up during the summer. Now, both boys are so blasé about the auto doors they can’t even be bothered to push the button to close the door after them, leaving the Magic Door Button Fairy (me) to do so

***2011** Dude, push the damn button already. How hard is it to remember?

***2012*** The button, child! It’s right there! You put your hand over it as you get out of the car! Just press down for the love of all that is holy!

I wanted a car with more space for luggage and thought a third row would be nice for the 3 times a year I need to seat more than 4 people in the car. We looked at a lot of hatchbacks with 3rd row seating & then we got to the 06 Grand Caravan

It has this

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Stow & go seating. No need to take out chairs or benches & find somewhere to store them.

And when the seat isn’t collapsed you have a storage bin!

The car has POCKETS! I couldn’t resist the pockets

It gives me the ability to do this

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Havoc sits in the second row, Mayhem in the third & I get all this space to climb in and get everyone settled without pulling any muscles reaching over anyone.

The real bonus though is that they CAN’T TOUCH each other.

Sweet Mary & Jesus what an unexpected blessing!!! They can’t grab things away from each other. They can’t push or shove each other.  Drives are so much quieter now.

And! And! The boys decided all on their own that they wanted to sit that way! They do it willingly!

***2010*** Seriously, y’all, this is key! The not sitting next to one another thing is so wonderful! Having that seat down makes the van feel so spacious and roomy! Even when Mayhem is alone riding with me, he sits in the back seat. He likes the shelf and pockets next his seat back there. I had to pop that seat up & move Mayhem into it when we bought the new TV and TV stand and OMG! the car felt sooooo crowded! And the boys COULD NOT STOP TOUCHING each other while they were sitting next to one another. I could not get that seat stowed again fast enough.

***2011*** Lately Mayhem has been suggesting he might like to sit next to his brother & thinks I should pop up that seat. I’m holding out for as long as I can though. It always ends in tears when we let him sit there.

***2012*** Mayhem has decided to stay in the back. He likes having the spare seat back there to use as a table to hold all his random junk.

I may never pop up that other seat again.

The only drawback is Mayhem is so far back I have to throw snacks to him and hope he catches them.

Bring the water & pemmican! I’m headed for the back of the mini van!

Speaking of the back of the mini van

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There is no trip to Sam’s I cannot make.

I won’t have to UPS clothes to FL for our vacation this year. 

DH won’t have to pack the explosives around the children when we buy fireworks in South Carolina.

It even has a roof rack, in case, you know, we want to bring our bed with us.

***2010***I have not been to Sams much since I bought the car. With the end of needing diapers and formula and finding fresh chicken in bulk elsewhere, there hasn’t been much need for buying things at Sams. But! I was able to pack everything for our trip to FL and DH was able to buy a bunch of fireworks and all of it fit fine in the back area.  Plus it hauled a bunch of furniture from IKEA and the aforementioned TV and stand.

***2011*** No large purchases this year, but did you  know you can fold down all the seats and fit a queen sized futon in the back? True. DH does it sometimes while camping.

***2012*** So far this year we have carried 2 exterior storm doors and 10 pieces of lumber in it. Plus lugged an enormous amount of crap to Florida and back.

Then there is the entertainment system.

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It doesn’t play 8 tracks, VHS or Blue ray but other than that you are good to go. It has a cassette player, a CD player that also plays mp3s, plus an AUX jack for my mp3 player & Sirius satellite radio. Hell, it may even get AM & FM stereo but where we live there is only the Christian Country station & a static-y NPR station from someplace about 75 miles or so away & I haven’t really tried those out.

It’s overkill in a big way. All I use is the Sirius and the AUX jack. But it makes no sense to have it replaced because I want to get rid of features.

***2010*** I still only use the Sirius and the AUX jack & had to get SOMETHING INSTALLED to it so I can listen to my mp3 player while the kids are watching a movie. Somehow in all that media overkill that little feature got forgotten

***2011*** Stupid new AUX jack is the bane of my existence. It has cable issues, meaning every single connector cable we try comes across static-y after about 2 hours of listening

***2012*** see DVD player update below

Oh, and it has a 6 disc DVD changer. 6 DISCS people! That’s like 12 hour of non-stop movie viewing (or at least 12 hours of no arguments about who’s turn it is to pick a movie because that was all decided before we left home & you get what ever is next up in the player) And wireless headsets! We had a dual monitor portable DVD player we strapped to the back of our headrests in the Cruiser. They were connected by assorted cables & there were other wires that plugged into the car and headset wires…wires all over the damn place.

It’s not an option we would ever have chosen ourselves because it just seems like a hassle waiting to break, but I’m delighted to have it. We use it on any trip over 90 minutes long & we take one of those every month just about.

***2010***We still think it is a hassle waiting to break but we still love it. It actually gets used less than I predicted. For instance it was last used when we came back from FL at the end of November. But it was like the Holy Grail of travel accessories for that trip. Mayhem has a tendency to switch receiver channels on his headset, thus cutting off the sound, and then wailing & whining about it NOT WORKING STUPID FING! and since we never know if it’s user error or dead battery & the headsets don’t receive in the front seats (behind the video screen), the passenger seat rider has to lean back at an extreme angle in their seat to get their head in front of the movie screen and then play with the buttons to test the headset, or pull over the car, get out, get in the back and then test the headset should there be no passenger available. Not fun. But since movies get watched on maybe 5 occasions all year, not that big a deal & hopefully Mayhem will be able to do his own troubleshooting before too long.

***2011*** The remote has stopped working. This means we can’t mute the sound to just headphones, so we have to listen to the movie because without the mute I can’t switch the AUX on to play our audiobook. It cuts the speaker sound out on the DVDs. So I need to order a new remote, but there are two styles, neither of which looks like the one I have.

***2012*** That hassle waiting to break? Yeah, it finally broke. Just as we were starting off on our 2 day drive to Florida. First it just didn’t want to play DVDs, then it refused to eject them and finally it became possessed by a demon and had to be staked through the heart to stop the god awful grinding noise. It’s $250 for a newish one and that’s not happening any time soon. Fortunately our old portable DVD player will hook into the AUX jack and play over the van’s screen & the headsets work as well with it. Not as convenient as the 6 disk changer but far far cheaper.

2010 – The car currently has 40,622 miles on it, which is sort of low for me but since I am not driving the kids to school & back any more thanks to the wonders of public school buses, I am not driving  250 miles a week.  It has to get a new inspection sticker today & the back brakes are squealing so I know they will need fixed, but I have high hopes that for the first time in about 5 years I am not going to get hit with a bunch of surprise repairs that need done.

2011 – The car has 57,009 miles on it & has needed some brake work. It also randomly puts the engine light on because it doesn’t like how I put the gas cap back on. My tags expired Sunday & the DMV never sent me a notice about it. I only noticed it because I was washing the car. I didn’t even notice the inspection sticker until I was reading the old post on this. I need to get that done this month. But as before I doubt I’ll get hit with lots of unexpected repairs. At least I hope not.

2012 – The car has 73,550 miles on it & has cost some serious bucks in maintenance & repairs over the past year. The brakes needed replaced and the transmission had to have some sort of pricy scheduled fluid flush done which I’ve never had to have done to any other car I’ve owned but as DH pointed out, every other car I’ve owned has needed a new transmission at some point, so possibly there is a connection. Also, I need new tires to pass inspection.

Overall I’m still liking the mini van.  But I still wish it were electric blue.

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3 comments to Only 11 more to go

  • LOL – fab update – I too lose our silver Jazz regularly. Perhaps you should do what we did with our hire car in the Florida parks and tie something distinctive to the aerial? I’m thinking light sabre?

  • But where would the blog fodder be if you could find your car? Or if the DVD worked seemlessly?
    Rinda

  • I’ve had a blue Prius since 2006. In the six years I’ve owned this car, I’ve discovered that 98% of others who own Priuses also have them in blue (approximately – am totally making that number up). I am constantly attempting to open the wrong car. For the first time in my life, I’ve memorized my license plate number just so I can stop trying to get into other people’s cars. I really wish I’d held out for the car in red or electric orange or really anything other than blue. Sigh.