2004 Volvo XC90 T6 AWD

After thinking things over, I decided to get a tried but true Volvo XC90. Having worked at Leikin Volvo for six years, I have some knowledge of these vehicles and their quirks. This one is not perfect. It has several dash warning lights on, some peeling paint, and a number of the common problems. But it seems like a decent vehicle to meander around town in. (P.S. It is a comfortable vehicle.)

Five Rental Cars

During my recent business trip, I drove five rental cars in five days. I have mixed emotions about that experience. On one hand, I enjoy driving different vehicles as it gives me the opportunity to test drive new cars. On the other hand, not all those cars were comfortable. Even after several visits to the chiropractor, my lower back is still complaining. But that is to be expected … I suppose.

During the trip, I drove a KIA Sportage, a new Infiniti QX30, a Ford Fusion, a new Chrysler Pacifica, and a Dodge Dart. I had limited time in the Ford and Chrysler but they were both comfortable and luxurious. I don’t remember much about the KIA. But the other two were memorable in different ways.

When I got to Baltimore’s airport, the lines were long, I was tired, and nobody was cooperating. Even being a preferred member of Enterprise didn’t help me to walk in and get a car. However, I finally made a reservation through Enterprise’s website and found that all the cars were the same price … $270 for a one way trip to Syracuse. Yikes!

Instead of paying that much for an economy car, I chose luxury. Why not? I ended up getting the 2017 Infiniti QX30. It is a small SUV with a 2.0 turbo four and AWD. I received several compliments on the vehicle. It was stylish and interesting. But for my body size, it was too small to be comfortable. I think the combination of driving this and sleeping in a cheap hotel caused my back trouble.

However… there were some interesting things about this snazzy ride. The first thing I noticed was the interior’s use of Mercedes-Benz components. The power seat controls were on the door. The steering wheel controls were the same. And the cruise control was exactly like MB. No complaints about that as they were familiar and worked well. It was just strange to see them in an Infiniti.

The last car I rented was a 2015 Dodge Dart with 30k miles on the odometer. Even though it was a small car, the cloth/mesh seats were very comfortable. The Bluetooth system was also easy to use and allowed me to play audio from my phone. Nice. The performance, however, was lacking. The little engine could rev up to almost 6000 rpm but it made more noise than speed. Of course, this was after driving the turbo charged Infiniti so it probably is not a fair comparison.

Overall, I enjoyed driving the different vehicles. The Pacifica’s touch screen was the best looking HD quality unit I have ever seen. The Ford was very comfortable and luxurious. But with my back issues, I will be especially careful with the next car I choose … especially at $270 per day.

Old Car Lot — Norwalk, Ohio

On our way to Willard, Ohio for Easter, we passed a parking lot filled with a bunch of unrestored old cars. The first one that caught my attention was the little Jeep FC truck. I have never seen one in person and didn’t realize how small it was. On the way back from church, we stopped to take pictures. We also spoke to a man who was vacuuming out one of the cars. He directed me to the website where you quickly find out that the owner is interested in non-normal cars. Enjoy the pictures.

The Value of a Good Photo

I took pictures of our rusty Chrysler minivan and sold it one day after advertising on Craigslist. A good picture at the right angle can make a $400 car look like $4000. Take, for instance, this 1997 SAAB 9000 Aero. This picture was taken just after going through a $5 car wash. Everything looks shiny and the trees make it look like the owner lives in a nicer neighborhood. First impressions make a big difference.

P.S. Sometimes my pictures have been too good. When the buyer arrives, his idea of the condition may be better than actual. But that’s where the description comes in. This particular car has some rust and other issues. But it sure looks good. Hopefully, the good looks of the car in good pictures will bring in the customers — which is the biggest hurdle to cross. Once they are in, half of the battle is won.

Whose responsibility was it?

A company driver was driving a crew alongside the railroad tracks two weeks ago, when one of the crew members told him to drive on the other side of the railroad tracks. It was dark that night and snow covered most of the ground. So, when the driver crossed to the other side and drove along the flat, snow covered “road”, he was very surprised when the van crashed through the ice into the drainage ditch.

Two weeks later, after trying a tow truck and bobcat with no success, a nearby landfill pulled the van out with a bulldozer. Unfortunately, the van will now need some expensive repairs and the driver has no work vehicle. This all brings up a very important question. Who was responsible for what happened that night?

Was it the crew member’s fault? He was the one who told the driver to go to the other side of the tracks. And if the driver had never been there before, he would need to rely on the knowledge of the crew member to know the lay of the land. And when you are hired to transport people, you do what they ask, right?

Was it the driver’s fault? Every driver is responsible to make sure the vehicle and it’s occupants are safe at all times. And every driver should use common sense. But it is difficult for me to blame the driver for doing what he was told especially under the circumstances.

So what is the correct answer? It is not always easy to know what to do in difficult situations. But knowing what happened to this driver, it isn’t as important to know who was responsible than to know what to do if you face a similar situation. Instead of doing what you are told, you might stop for a moment and ask a question. “Sir, are you sure this is a road?” Or you might say, “I am going to step outside and check the road before going any further.” And if necessary, you might go So far as to say, “I am sorry if it causes you a problem but I do not feel comfortable driving down there. You will have to walk from here.”

Most drivers wouldn’t feel comfortable causing a conflict. It is easier to do what you are told than to get into an argument. But I would imagine that every driver would also like to have a van to drive the next day instead of waiting 2-3 weeks while their van is being repaired. Think about that the next time you are asked to do something questionable. Your ability to say no may make a big difference. Be prepared.