When I turned the key to start the VW, the engine turned over in a way that seemed like it wasn’t engaging. The motor started, but ran very rough, as if it was going to die any minute. Moments before, I had talked with my friend Jim about how the VW just needed to last me another year or so, the $7000 I owed yet on the car preventing me from trading it. The VW wasn’t worth much, but I chose to spend another $900 at the beginning of the month to get it running right, with the hope that it would be reliable for the 30 mile commute I would be starting on the 19th. Honestly, it felt like I was betting against the odds, the history of the car in the somewhat brief 3.5 years it had been mine proof that there wasn’t much life left in it. I took to calling the car “VW Moneypit” rather than Tiguan, my way of deflecting the frustration of spending roughly $12,000 to keep the car running.
The uneven lope of the engine as I left the restaurant’s parking lot seemed like a struggle to stay alive, the last few gasps of someone who just wanted to make it home before they give up the ghost. Thankfully, the restaurant my friends and I choose for our Friday night “therapy” is only a few minutes from my house, two stoplights. At each stoplight on the way home, I found myself praying that the car would get me home. Despite the car’s history, it always managed to get me home, refused to strand me on the side of the road. VW designs a limp into their cars, I think. That’s great, because their cars NEED that feature. True to design, the Moneypit crawled into my driveway, begging for mercy until I turned the key to shut it down.
I waiting a few seconds before I turned the key again. Just as before, the engine spun without engaging, this time not engaging at all, not starting.
Oh noooooo…. not now, you turd. I have to start my new job on Monday, have to commute 60 miles. Don’t do this!
But it was doing it. After a few minutes of trying to start the car, letting it rest, then trying again, I knew that trying to start the car was futile. I called my mechanic and left him a woeful message (he’s used to it from me) that I would be having the car towed to him over the weekend. Resigned, I locked the car up, told my friend and her son my plan (they had walked up while I was trying to start the car). I was taking my friend to the airport the next day, Saturday, for her two week trip to Italy (lucky her). We would have to take her car, instead of mine. Fortunately for me, that meant I had a vehicle at my disposal. I would like to say it’s chance that she just happened to be leaving and didn’t need her car, but sometimes I think it’s God’s way of showing me he has my back. Through the whole challenge with the car, I had a peace and trust from experience that all would work out.
It did, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
Short story on the VW Moneypit — my mechanic confirmed on the following Monday that the timing chain had slipped and the valves were damaged. Fixing the engine would require a new head and more, a very expensive proposition. He left me with encouragement, told me he would hang on to the car until I figured things out.
So I did indeed figure things out, although it took some fortitude to take the steps I needed to take. Monday evening, I visited the CarMax dealership where I had purchased the Moneypit and several other vehicles. They really weren’t interested in helping me, told me that the $7000 I owed on the VW would make it tough to trade the car. If I could have the car towed to them, it might help the situation.
Seriously? Bull puckey! They didn’t need the car to work on a solution. It was just a tactic to force me to make them my only choice.
I have been considering car replacements for a while, knowing that the VW Moneypit wasn’t long for this world. At the top of my list was the Subaru Crosstrek. Everything I had read talked about its reliability. As a mountain biker, it has the utility I need for my bike and stuff.
Long story short — the local Subaru dealership, after about an hour of back and forth negotiation, found a payment solution I can accept.
So, here is my new-to-me ride, a used 2016 Subaru Crosstrek! It’s black, which is not the color I wanted. These cars are hard to come by as they are very popular.