7/15/2009

Greetings all, John here from Carrollton, TX with yet another episode of “As the Wheel Turns”….

Again another hot as hell day here. 103 again. Derek keeps reminding me that we are a couple degrees cooler than Arlington, but it really doesn’t matter, it is still hot.

Well, for the big “secret” again– Which I don’t know why Derek insists on throwing out drama fishing lines for no real reason when I ask him not to post something in the blog until it is final… We have been throwing around the idea of replacing the Ford for the past couple weeks. The fact is the Ford has just under 200k on it, and although it is paid for and runs well, the sense of impending doom is always lurking with it. It is starting to get some rust, and the A/C Compressor is making bad noises, and the transmission is starting to do some weird things, added to the fact the vehicle empty is just shy of 8,000 lbs, which makes it really a heavy vehicle to tow behind the motor home. We made the purchase of the motor home realizing that it wasn’t the most practical towed, but having already a payment on the Subaru we didn’t want to deal with payments on both cars, needing to get it back from SC when we purchased the Winnie, and it being the cheapest to setup to tow, made our decision then to keep it. I also have been sort of waiting to see what happens with a new to the market company called Mahindra, who have been talking about bringing compact pickups and SUV’s to the USA powered with small clean diesels. They have yet again decided to push back their launch date, and we both felt we needed to make a move with the Ford before it lost all of it’s value.

I think our needs and wants were quite simple, a replacement needed to be small, but large enough for me to comfortably fit in, Diesel (Ok, you guys all know it is just what I want… Practical or not, it will be a diesel.), Four Wheel Drive, and Tow-able 4 down. My search yielded only 2 viable options of current model cars. One being the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the other being a used Jeep Liberty. Yes, I’d love a Grand Cherokee, but simply put, we can’t afford one. The diesel option has been fairly recent, and the used market for them is still quite strong, most bringing high 20’s to mid 30’s. The Liberty I have heard bad things about it being underpowered and heavy, and unbearable to drive, so I have always discounted it as a non-option. This weekend while we were in the airport I was surfing the web some and came across a few on the web in the DFW area. I figured since I haven’t really driven one, I would go look. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I found the diesel to be adequate realizing it is not my big T444E IH motor, but a small Italian made 4 Cylinder, it was still quite peppy. It is fairly quiet, but retains the diesel cackle, has a variable vane turbo that spools quickly and will even squeal the tires if you are too aggressive. The diesel model may be lacking in HP at only 160, but it’s low end torque is about 30 more than the big 6 Cyl gas model, coming in just under 300 ft lbs. The vehicle itself is comfortable to drive, and actually quite easy to get in and out of. It is hard to argue with the transfer case and 4×4 capabilities of Jeep, as the transfer case is their “Selectrac” case, and has been proven pretty reliable. Mileage from what I have read on line will be pretty much inline with what the Ford was, maybe a little better in the low 20’s, which isn’t great, but isn’t horrible either.

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Jeep at the Red Lobster

After my test drive, the salesman laid it on pretty thick, and I really had no intentions of buying Monday. They offered a pretty fair price, and I countered and then brought in my trade. They gave me wholesale book for my Ford, and we argued a little, and agreed on some terms. So, as of today it is officially ours. A White 2006 Jeep Liberty Sport. It isn’t fancy, but it is equipped nicely. I spent the rest of Monday and Tuesday sorting through all the crap I carried in the Ford, which must be pared down substantially. Some stuff I forgot I had, other stuff I forgot I had so much of. Removed the radio’s and what I could and listed a few items on Craigslist. We just got back from the dealer and a “celebratory dinner” at Red Lobster. I will be spending the next week or so getting the Jeep up to speed for my taste, which includes installing radios, antennas, new front bumper, winch, trailer hitch, Blue Ox tabs, and wiring it for towing. I was a little disappointed with the dealer, as the deal really wasn’t final until today. Things move a little slower here in the South, and if you get aggressive or pushy they just get slower, but overall, it was a smooth transaction.

So, now I have a project to work on for a while… It will be a bit of a change for me, I haven’t had a small vehicle as my daily driver since 1994 or so. The Ford has been a good truck and I am sad to see it go, as I have had it for 11 1/2 years, almost as long as Derek. He said the other day that it was our “Relationship Vehicle” kidding me a little. On the other hand he seems quite happy to be rid of it, as he never did care to drive it, even when I did let him. It is a bit of a beast in traffic, with a heavy clutch, wide turning radius, and being very heavy.

I do have some items I need to sell, one being the Winch. I have it listed on Craigslist, but isn’t getting much attention. I fear it will be hard to sell even in Texas. It is a MileMarker Hydraulic Winch. The other is the water barrel we bought in Quartzsite. I didn’t pay that much for it, but I still don’t want to just throw it away. So, if anyone is close and needs/wants them, let me know!

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Our MoHo at the new RV park. Will post more pictures tomorrow - it was getting a bit dark out...

Overall cost of ownership was fairly low, even with a couple big ticket repairs of a Turbo, Clutch, and a major electrical problem, was still under $3,000 a year, including regular maintenance, and that figure did not include the pittance I received on trade. Honestly, if it wasn’t a machine, and was able to have emotion, it was probably not very happy with the past three years of being pulled around by it’s nose, it was meant to run and pull, not put on less than 1000 miles a year on it’s own. So for now, So long Old Friend, hopefully you will end up in the good hands of a good Texas Redneck who will care for you as we did, and not with a stick on sign that says “Call 1-800-555-1234 for Jesus — Professional Lawn Service”.

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