Cars at the House by the Swamp

by ward on January 15, 2013

And, speaking of vehicles…

Over the past few years, vehicles here at the House By The Swamp have changed.

When we arrived, back in late 2003, we had a Saturn Vue and a Saturn SL2. Nice cars, but they started having niggling little problems, here and there.

The Vue fried a battery, had a recall on the rear suspension, and had it’s crankshaft position sensor go intermittenly bad. (I absolutely HATE intermittent failures!). All the work was warranty, but by 2007, I was getting nervous. Then Chickie somehow managed, with her foot (!) managed to crack the front window. Sigh. $250 for that one.

The SL2 started losing radiator coolent at a very slow rate, then lost it’s radiator completely. Later, the electric window switches. All fixable by me for under $250 in parts. But at 106,000 miles, I lost faith in it’s reliability.

I sold the SL2 and got a Dodge Dakota with about 105,000 on the clock. It promptly lost it’s thermostat, and after I fixed that, it lost it’s crankshaft position sensor. I swore at it a lot, fixed it (under $100 in parts), and drove it for the next two years and 25,000 miles.

The Vue behaved itself, but in 2009, it started making the occasional “clunk” from the transmission.


Short version, we hammered the Vue and the Dakota, and went out and got a Dodge Nitro for SWMBO, and a Dodge Ram 1500 for Yours Truly.

After some very minor teething problems, they’ve been trouble-free.

Along the way, we picked up a very used (150,000 miles) 1995 Merceds E320 for Chickie to drive once we let her get her license.

That German POS has:

1. Broke it’s right rear electric window mechanism.
2. Broke it’s left rear electric window mechanism.
3. Had weird electrical problems, which I eventually traced down to partially blown/degraded fuses (the old German-style ceramic with the exposed fuse wire). THAT was the only easy fix on this POS.
4. The starter crapped it’s Bendix. That damned starter is mounted so close to the firewall that I can’t get a normal wrench or socket on it.

The Mercedes is currently sitting in the driveway, waiting for me to get over being mad at it. The starter is in a difficult to get place, high on the driver’s side of the engine, VERY close to the firewall. Special socket wrench required.

So, we acquired a 1997 Jeep Cherokee for Chickie to drive.

It’s got a few minor problems, including the right-front passenger power window. (Now fixed, for $65 for a custom part instead of the $380 the dealer wanted for “replacement” parts!). It still needs an oil-pressure sensor (known common issue) and a few other minor things, all easily fixable, and Thank Ghu, easily reachable.

And one other minor thing.

Chickie must have a special “thing” going on with automobile windows.

One of her friends was listening to the music from the radio, and doing the “seat dance” thing in the right front passenger seat, just rockin’ out and doin’ the boogie, and tossing her head around, and… managed to pop her head on the windshield. Which promptly cracked.


At least it’s not likely to cost me $650 to fix.

Unlike that German POS.

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