Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An Ode to Vladimir

Vladimir the minivan was purchased in Wisconsin shortly after Daniel arrived home from his mission. He needed something big enough to get his drum set back to Provo, and this 1997 Pontiac TranSport fit the bill. Vladimir has conquered the 1,500 mile drive from Appleton to Provo, the mountainous terrain of Utah, several trips to Las Vegas, and three Utah winters. Daniel first told me he loved me in this car. In short, the van is a beast.

There have been lots of little problems with Vladimir, but as long as we got from Point A to Point B we didn't worry too much. The least fun thing about Vladimir is the lack of air conditioning, which is very bad in the summer time. Don't ever go to Vegas in the summer with a car that has no A/C. It is no fun.

Over the last few days, Vladimir has had trouble switching gears, usually between 60-70mph. There would be a slight stall, the RPM would jump up, but then things would fix themselves and that was that. Unfortunately, last night was a different story.

After picking Daniel up at the airport we (Daniel, Mark, and I) started back to Provo. Vladimir really started having trouble, but Daniel managed to get to a comfortable speed and we didn't have much problem once we started going on the highway. I was afraid that Daniel would push Vladimir too hard and suggested we take the University Parkway exit to avoid the high speeds at the expense of the car. Big mistake.

As we started up the hill heading east, Vladimir couldn't get past 20mph. We realized that we wouldn't be able to make it up the hill. So we pulled in to the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme in Orem. We smelled burning rubber, and when we opened the hood we could hear the coolant boiling. Vladimir had been working so hard to get us up that hill that the inside started burning up.

We waited for half an hour to see if the car would cool down, and it did, but the needle was still in the red. We waited a little longer and illegally bought doughnuts from the window. Mark finally called his roommate with a car and we left Vladimir at Krispy Kreme. On the way back we decided that something must be wrong with the transmission and probably a belt. Daniel and I got to bed around 2am, and it was not fun to wake up this morning.

I called a mechanic this morning and he told me that his store doesn't even touch transmissions. I asked Kimball and he referred me to his car place in Orem, which specializes in diagnostics. I called that place and explained the situation, and he referred me to another place in Provo, J & M's Transmission Clinic. After calling Krispy Kreme and making sure Vladimir hadn't been towed, I made plans with Curt at J & M's to bring a set of keys and work out towing. Daniel came with me and Curt said he'd call later that afternoon.

Here's what Curt said...

1) Just from eyeballing the transmission, everything looks pretty worn out
2) To get in there and diagnose everything would cost about $375
3) Chances are we'd have to replace several parts or even get a whole new transmission. All of that would cost between $1500-$2300

Daniel looked at Vladimir on the Kelley Blue Book website and in good condition, we'd get about $1500. And Vladimir is not in good condition. Fixing the transmission would cost as much as Vladimir is worth.

So now we're on the hunt for another car. We've found a few we like, and I checked out the 2010 Consumer Reports Guide to Buying Used Cars from the library so we can decide what's safest and what we should be seeing regarding prices.

We'll probably donate Vladimir and get a tax exemption. We don't know what will be done to our minivan, but we've enjoyed the trips and experiences we've had.

And now whatever car we buy will have Utah tags. Dumb. We don't want to be associated with Utah drivers!

See you later, Vladdy...

(This one looks most like our Vladimir)

-Daniel and Jenn

1 comment:

  1. Poor Vladimir! I'm glad I was able to participate in one of his last trips.