Never Shoulda Hadta Duet

Do you have a car you wish you had never sold? Maybe times were tough, you couldn’t afford the repairs, or just had too many cars in the driveway. But when you look back at it, you wish you had never sold it. For those who know me well, it should come as no surprise which car I should not have sold.

When gas prices were close to $4 a gallon, I made the seemingly stupid decision to purchase a 1982 Jaguar XJ-S with a V12 engine. Despite what people may have been thinking, I knew what I was doing. The car may have only averaged 16 mpg, but I also knew that it was the time to buy if I ever was going to get a car like that.

The fear at the time was that gas prices were going to hit $5 or $6 per gallon. (Premium gas almost did.) Most people were afraid to buy a big-engined car knowing they’d be unable to afford the fuel bill. But that actually turned things to my favor. I was able to purchase the car at a ridiculously low price. If I recall correctly, I bought it for $2,200.

At the time, I was a fledgling salesman at Leikin Volvo and had come into the business when the economy was at a low point. One veteran salesman told me that I had taken a sales job at the worst possible time. He was right. The first couple of months were very difficult. But I kept driving the dream car.

But, as you know, there comes a time when dreams have to meet reality. That day came when I acknowledged several inconvenient truths:

  1. Fuel costs – I could not afford $70 each fill-up for gas.
  2. Leaking oil – I had to keep a case of oil in the trunk.
  3. Heater – I had no heat in this car (and winters are cold in NE Ohio).
  4. Headroom – I had the seat repaired and my head rubbed the ceiling.
  5. Family – I knew the kids would not fit in that tiny backseat for much longer.

In July of 2008, I put the car up for sale, but few were interested despite the shiny pictures. I finally had one offer which included cash plus an $800 trade. (Remember the Shark, anyone?) With my situation the way it was, I had to do it. But I often wonder if I should have kept it. And I wonder if I could ever get it back. Maybe some day.

Craigslist Buyer Scams

When selling a personal vehicle, I like to post a listing on Craigslist. It is an easy and free way to advertise your vehicle to local people. With a few steps, I can post pictures of my car with a description and asking price. However, I am learning that when you are eager to sell your car, it is easy to be taken advantage of by Craigslist buyer scams.

I have personally experienced three types of online scams:

  1. Is your car still for sale?

    This question is usually accompanied by multiple requests to help you sell your car for a small fee. No doubt the fee will be paid and nothing will ever be done.

  2. Ship me the car because I am out of the country.

    This one has been out there for a while. The buyer is ready to make a deal but can’t see the vehicle because he is out of the country on business. He requests that you do the transaction online and then ship the car to a designated location. No doubt the payment will be revoked as soon as the car is shipped.

  3. Run this car report and I will buy your car.

    The buyer promises to buy the vehicle sight unseen as long as you run a car history report. The link does not go to a reputable company such as carfax but some unknown site. No doubt, the scammer uses your credit card payment for the report to empty your bank account.

Apparently, I am not the only one who has noted these problems. Car Buying Tips and also have good articles on what to avoid when selling your car online.

The Beautiful Car

I was looking through old pictures and came across this reminder of how beautiful the Jaguar XJ-S was. It just makes me smile to see this old car looking so good in our driveway so many years ago. It was definitely a privilege to own such a unique vehicle.

QOTD #61: Does idling hurt your car’s engine?

During my time as a driver manager with a fleet of 40 vehicles, I have noticed that some of our vans have developed catalytic converter problems. The most recent was a 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan (with 123k miles) which developed a check engine light with a P0420 code. The local mechanic told me it was the bank one catalytic converter needing to be replaced. This expensive repair caused me to wonder why the unit went bad.

The company I work for transports railroad crew members from one place to another. However, there are times when the crew is not ready to go for up to three hours. As you can imagine, if it is hot, the driver will keep the van running with the AC on. Now that colder weather has arrived, our drivers keep the van running for the heat. While I don’t have a problem with our drivers being comfortable, I am wondering if the idling of their vehicles is causing problems to develop inside the engine or catalytic converter.

Search the internet and you will find forums arguing about this:

“Not true. 90% of all wear is done at start up. Once an engine is running it’s best to leave it running. Letting it idle will not harm a thing. Not back then and not today. As long as the engine has oil pressure you’re not hurting a thing. Sorry but dad was wrong.” 1

“The main problem with extended idling was the wasted fuel, fouled spark plugs, and carboned up combustion chambers from the carburetor delivered fuel system and lesser ignitions systems of the era. … But, the company my mom worked for at the time in the mid-1960’s used a fleet of Corvairs, including the van version, and without any particular problems for all of the extended idling that the delivery units were subjected to.” 2

So… who is right? And how about with newer, fuel-injected engines today? Does idling cause your vehicle’s engine to foul spark plugs, wear out quicker, and mess up your catalytic converter? Instead of relying on the forums, I decided to visit the Car Talk website to find the answer:

These days, with fuel injection and computer engine management, cars and trucks can idle until they run out of gas without doing any extra damage to the engine (assuming the cooling system is working properly). Idling does add wear and tear to the engine –anytime the engine is running, you’re decreasing the useful life of the oil and slowly wearing out parts. But it’s no more harmful than driving. 3

What do you think? Is Car Talk right about this?