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Why throw away a good car that blew its engine?

By John Toth

The Bulletin

I have to tell you about our “new” work van. I have never given it enough credit, and I have always favored our green van, which has gotten plenty of attention.

The gold Dodge Grand Sport Caravan has seen better days. In its heyday, it was our go-to transportation mode because the whole family fit in it comfortably, and it was big and reliable.

The green van is also a Dodge Caravan, but it is older and smaller.

The green van has gotten paint jobs; its interior has been redone; and it has a rebuilt transmission. It has a lot of history behind it. Both of my boys learned how to drive in that van - one without my knowledge.

The gold van, on the other hand, has received very little attention. The original gold paint has faded. It did get a new headliner after I got tired of threads of the old ones hanging down around me while I was driving.

It has always been the workhorse of our fleet, though, and it seldom let us down. There was that one time in Dickinson when it would not start, and another time when it threw its serpentine belt and had to be towed from Alvin, and a couple of other mishaps, but for the most part, it has performed well.

Meanwhile, the green van just sat around most of the time, and we drove it mostly on short trips. It was and is a backup van in case we run out of other vehicles in which we can distribute.

I know that I have played favorites, but I have just made up for it. Here is what happened.

The gold van started leaking motor oil. I filled it up, and it leaked it back out. I then had to go out of town for a week, and during distribution, all the oil leaked out of the van.

Then it was driven for another 30 minutes or so. By the time it got back home, the poor thing sounded like a very upset coffee maker.

The news was bad.

“We turned it on and turned it right back off,” said the mechanic, who concluded that the motor had burnt up and could not be fixed.

The green van would have to go back into action, like in the good old days when it was driven all over Brazoria County, to tennis practices in Fort Bend County and to Orlando and back.

Putting another engine in the gold van would solve the problem. But I ran into some pretty high prices, much higher than what I wanted to pay to fix an old van.

I know I said earlier that the gold van was new. To us, it still is the “new” van, but age-wise, it’s also old.

“I found a motor that will fit in it,” volunteered the mechanic. “It will have to be shipped here.”

“Let’s do it,” I told him. The price was not bad. It was looking like the 2001 van might have a second life, after all.

I left it at the shop and let them do their magic.

The green van is a 1995 model, but it has less mileage than the gold van. Maybe it’s due time that I give the gold van some recognition. After all, we almost lost it. Some of my family members kind of wish that we had.

My take is: Waste not, want not. If you do not use too much of something now, you will have some left later when you need it.

Why should I get rid of a perfectly good vehicle, when all it needs is a new motor? It makes no sense. If everybody thought like this, the world would be a lot better off. Maybe not a lot better, but probably better.

The day had come to pick up the gold van with its new “heart.” I was so excited. The mechanics moved on to other cars they had to fix. To them, this was just another job. To me, it was a much bigger deal.

I turned the ignition key. It fired right up and purred like Lucky, my most affectionate and fattest cat.

“It has 100,000 miles on it,” said the mechanic. “But we checked it all out and put in all new seals.”

That is much less than the mileage the old engine had on it. The van was running smooth and steady, like it was thanking me that I didn’t just junk it and get a newer one.


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