Doug's Sounding Board


New car (the fast way)

Two weeks ago we were told that the transmission and clutch are in need of replacing. No one does rebuilds of them because with 5 different manual transmissions used for the 97 Passat it just doesn’t make sense unless you are VW. The cost of a new one installed is $3500. The average yearly cost of maintenance on it has been running about $1800, and $900 on a light year. All that totalled up is way more than the value of the car which is $4000.

Last Friday Sandy came over in a new Highlander Hybrid to get the key so she could look in on the dogs on X-Mas eve. We asked and she let us test drive it and Nicole and I both though it was pretty nice. We were thinking about new cars but we weren’t going to start looking until after the first so it would be more calm in general. That night a noise and feeling in the handling started which turned out to be the CV joint making the car not so safe to drive any longer.

Saturday I scrambled to find a rental car that could hold dogs and ended up with the B9 Tribeca SUV from Subaru. We drove to Sacramento and back for X-mas eve with Nicole’s family and then Sunday morning we drove to LA for Channukah with my family.

Monday morning my dad brought out the latest Consumer Reports book and car magazine that he had from my sister’s recent car purchase. I saw in the “Bad Bets” list the 97 Passat and that VW in general is one the maker some of the most unreliable cars for the past few years, beating out Lincoln and not really anything else. Also, European cars are the least reliable right now, followed by American cars, and Asian cars are the most reliable. We decided to go car test driving in the land of many cars so we went to the Valencia Auto Mall, parked, and walked among all the dealers to test drive. After a day of test driving we liked the Toyota Highlander and the Mazda 6 wagon. The Toyota being rated excellent in every catagory and the Mazda being rated average.

Tuesday we went to a bigger Toyota dealer (two parking structures of Toyotas instead of one smaller one) but they didn’t have the Highlander Hybrid that we wanted but we got a nice golf cart ride out of it. We decided to call Toyota of Santa Cruz to see what they had. They had one that was rejected but it wasn’t one we wanted and the waiting list was 2 months to 1.5 years. I decided to call over the hill Toyota dealers and found that Capitol Toyota in San Jose had one we wanted. After about 15 minutes Capitol called back saying that if we came in today they would knock off $500.

We started back home from LA and on the grapevine Capitol called saying that the one we wanted actually was sold yesterday. All that was left was the gold colored ones that Nicole really didn’t want. They offered to knock off another $500 if we wanted the gold but we said “No thanks.” Then the dealer from the on-line quote called but I couldn’t hear his name before we got disconnected. I remembered that one of the ones calling was from Fremont so we looked up the number and called there and found that had a number of them in stock that we wanted. Nicole called back to see what the prices were to see if they were jacking the price up with some dealer incentive. They weren’t so we mentioned that we were offered a car for $1000 off at Capitol and they told us they would knock off $1500. Which allowed us to get the 4×4 for the full price we were goign to pay for the 4×2 to begin with. Yay!

We got home, unloaded the car and drove to Fremont and at 10PM drove home in a nice car with 17 miles on it.

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