It’s Paid For

As our trusty minivan has exceeded the 100,000 mile mark, we have been having intermittent trouble with various mechanisms.  For one, the manual sliding door will get inexplicably jammed shut, and the kids will all have to enter through the automatic door on the other side.  Invariably, after a few days, as mysteriously as it gets jammed, it will come unjammed.

I know we could take it to the dealer and have it fixed, but we haven’t gotten around to it yet.  The inconvenience of the problem has not yet outweighed the inconvenience of taking it to the dealer and sitting in the waiting room all morning with three children.  Can I hear an amen?

Then one day last week, after an exhausting afternoon at the pool, we all piled into my ancient minivan to ride home.  My son went to close the automatic sliding door, but nothing happened.  He tugged harder and managed to close it, but without the help of the automatic feature. 

Quizzically, I pushed the button on my console that operates the door, but nothing happened.  I tried the button on my keyfob, and nothing.  Perplexed, I pushed the button that activates and deactivates the automatic feature, thinking that perhaps one of the children "accidentally" bumped it.  I tried the buttons to open the door again, and nothing.

Oh, well.  I decided to deal with it later.  It was hot inside the car without the air conditioning.  I started up the car and was greeted by the loud buzzing noise that means the automatic door is not closed. 


I got out, walked around, opened and closed the door soundly, making sure it was latched, and then went back to the driver’s seat where I started the ignition again.


Omigosh!  I turned off the car AGAIN.  I tried opening and shutting the door AGAIN.  It was definitely shut.  But for some reason, the car didn’t know that.  Oh the joys of modern technology.

I dug out the manual from the glove compartment, and in the sweltering heat of the car I found the section on the automatic door.  It sounded as if I needed to reset the system.  The book gave detailed instructions, but it involved disconnecting the battery and other manly sounding tasks.  I made the executive decision to drive the car home with the annoying BUZZZZZZZ and let my handy hub handle the resetting of the door.

So for 20 minutes, we drove to accompaniment of a very loud buzzing noise.  Once home, sure enough, my handy hub was able to reset the feature, and it’s working fine now.

As if all that’s not enough, the starter isn’t being very reliable.  About once every month or so, when I go to turn on the car, it will stall out on me before I get a chance to put it into reverse.  I will shut off the A/C, turn the car off, wait a few seconds, and try it again, and it will stall again.

I have learned how to start the ignition while in Neutral and gently give it some gas and then sling it into Reverse and back out of the driveway.  Invariably it stalls again, but by that time, I am usually in the street, and I go through the whole rigmarole again — put it in Neutral, apply light pressure on the gas, slam it into Drive, and then take off like a bat out of you-know-where, hoping that it will take.  I usually have to go through that cycle a few times until I can get it going for keeps.

Of course, this is a bit disconcerting to the three children in the backseat who aren’t sure exactly what is going on except that mommy is getting all hot and bothered and the car isn’t starting.

We think it has something to do with trying to start the car while running the A/C because it doesn’t happen much, if at all, in the wintertime.  I’m hoping it’s a simple fix, but once again, I would have to take it to the dealer to find out what’s wrong and what’s involved in fixing it.  Call me crazy, but that just doesn’t sound like a good time.

Finally, Hub has made an appointment to take the car in this morning for a tune-up because we plan to drive it to Maine this weekend.  Here’s hoping that whatever is causing these intermittent problems can be fixed with little time and expense.  As much as I would love to have a brand-spanking-new, late-model, RELIABLE car to drive around in, I keep telling myself, It’s Paid For.

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34 thoughts on “It’s Paid For

  1. Methinks you have an Odyssey? Our Odyssey is 9 years old this summer and has 140K miles on it! We did have some trouble with the doors just like you described and we spent about 300.00 to get it all fixed. I also was having trouble with it stalling right in the middle of the road, but that too was fixed (about 500.00). I keep telling myself that 800.00 in the past two years is peanuts compared to having a car payment. I have never really cared what I drive as long as it is paid for! I hope it can be fixed with minimum expense and time. I had brand spanking new tires put on my Odyssey last week and the tire guy was impressed….he said that was like the 99 year old woman who planted bulbs in the fall, LOL.

  2. i read Susan’s comment above, and I think the same……an Odyssey, perhaps? We have about 117K on our Odyssey and yes, no car payments…..so we cross our fingers that nothing really really major happens to this lifeboat.

  3. I hope that they can get it all fixed up for cheap. But at least the buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing is stopped that would have driven me bonkers!

  4. I know! Love having a car with no debt, but hate what happens when it starts getting old. For the first couple years of our marriage, we both had cars that hit 100K miles. Each month, one or the other was in the shop, but it still beat a car payment.

    We currently are in a relatively new state with my hubby’s car, but mine is now approaching 90K.

  5. I totally get freaked out when the mileage on our vehicles get high! I am just certain that will mean F.O.R.D. – FOUND ON ROAD DEAD!!!

    I don’t usually don’t put the “general” miles on my vehicle of 12,000 annually – I average about 6,000.

    Good luck on the vehicle repair!

  6. Gosh, my minivan is ancient – it’s a 1997, been Paid-For for YEARS and we just poured $1500 into it this year because, well…that’s better than a $600 monthly payment 12 times a year.

    I’m with you – get it fixed. It’s still got some miles left. 🙂

  7. I will give you a big AMEN to the waiting room one. At our dealer they have a putrid floral and wood couch/coffee table set from the ’70s and the smell to go it. If someone can’t take me and drop me off, I usually drop it off, walk down the street to something for an hour and come back.

  8. You go to Maine this weekend, we go in two weeks. I brought our car in for a check up to make sure we don’t have any big issues going WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY up…or is it down east. We have the VW Jetta Deisel, good mileage, small but we pack very efficiently and have done this for the past 6 years. It works for now!

  9. We are SOOOO all about no car payment…I was CRESTFALLEN when earlier this summer when we had to get rid of our ’93 Volvo wagon with 185,000+ on it (we bought it with 140K+)…we traded it in for a 2002 Odyssey with 90,000+ (new to us!)

    Hmmm….wonder what that tells about us? 😉
    Reliability is SOOO important though, so I do feel your pain! (Not convinced that new cars are more reliable…too many friends suffering with theirs…)

  10. I feel your pain. I hate dumping money in our ’98 minivan, but it’s paid for.

    Do your doors have a child lock-in system? Sometimes ours accidentally gets activated, so the doors don’t open from the inside.

  11. I have witnessed first-hand this minivan stalling in the middle of the street, starting again, and Jo-Lynne driving it down the street like she is being chased. And let me tell ya, it ain’t pretty!!

  12. Too funny…..all of us mini-van Moms comparing what’s broke!

    I’ll join in. Sometimes the passenger side auto door doesn’t like to open or shut automatically. No one knows why since it will only do it for me!
    And not long ago my radio decided to stop working. When you have kids who are used to watching tv in the car….it can make a trip a little daunting!

    Good luck to all you minivan driving Moms! Here’s to hoping I don’t see you on the side of the road!

  13. We are at 125,00 miles and our door does the same thing sometimes! But the again, when I go to look for something in the filing cabinet and I see the van title sitting there, I just grin and bear it 🙂

  14. Shannon – SNORT. I’ll probably take out a small kid one day, but IT’S PAID FOR! Hahaha.

  15. I have driven (or been in) many-a-car similar to that. My poor sister had to drive this old brown Buick in high school that was so ugly, plus, you had to get in the passenger side door because the other one didn’t open. I was embarrassed by it when she would pick me up, but it was paid for too! ANd as an adult I really appreciate that!

  16. Totally Paid for here also. But need to get a new car soon. I’m holding out. I become very attached to my cars.

  17. We just got our Odyssey last April so it’s far from paid off. I can see why you’re dealing with those problems though rather than go sit in the waiting room. That would be my own personal nightmare!

  18. I drive a 7yo, 100,000+ mile car and my brake light is permanently on. It bothered me for a long time, but I’m totally over it now. Because….Paid For! Just like you!

  19. I think you have a Sienna, like me. I have a 2000 paid for, Sienna with 121,000 miles. When my van had about 100,000 the same thing happened to my automatic door. $1,900 later (along with some other work), my door now works great. Since my car hit 100,000 miles we’ve had to put 1,000-2,000 a year to keep my car on the road. But, it’s paid for and for the most part it still drives good. I’m hoping to keep it until 2010! We’ll see!! Good Luck!!

  20. Oh no. We have been having trouble with our automatic doors too. Push the button to shut it and it will start to shut then it will open real quick right before it was to completely shut. So annoying. Like it has a mind of it’s own. Creepy.

  21. We are about to have to replace two cars here, and right now, we have no car payment. Luckily, my hubby has recently taken up auto mechanics (no lie- he calls his friends, reads online, and attempts!) Also luckily, he hasn’t had to mess with the motor yet, just brakes and oil. It usually takes him 4 times as long, but it saves us lots of money.

    OK, Jo-Lynn, you totally have to call up a car dealer and ask if you can do a review! I got a free power toothbrush once, you should be able to get a car!

  22. I drive an It’s Paid For 1997 Toyota 4Runner and you know what? I love it. One day it’ll start gettin’ broke-down and tard out, but for now, it’s my Sydney Bristow mobile, just enough retro to be cool, just enough reliable to be Mom-worthy. And just enough paid for to be ALL MINE. Yeehaw! (Oh, and just enough worn in the shocks to maybe make me go into labor soon, I hope.)

  23. Hey, just in case, for future reference and all, on ours (Odyssey), you can turn off the automatic door button switch at the front and the BUZZZZZ will also turn off while you drive. 🙂 Handy lil tidbit.

  24. I know all about the sliding door issues. We have to reset ours every couple weeks. Thankfully ours only involves a fuse. The dealership can’t find anything wrong, so we just deal with it.

    There are a few other problems that are shifting us to find a new car, but it is paid for that makes it hard.

  25. Ah!! AMEN to the no car payment!

    Just like some people commented, putting in about $1000 a year is better then the average $500+ monthly payment.

    I don’t have the sliding door problem, as my doors don;t slide (Suburban) I totally insisted on having the AC fixed. And as trivial as that seems, since growing up no one had AC in their car and we all survived it, I found it pretty top priority.

    PS I hope you have a beautiful time in Maine!! I hear it is breath-taking!!

  26. Oh, you really made me groan and shake my head with this post. We traded my 10 year old Volvo S80-T6 in earlier this year for a Honda Fit because the dealership found another $2,000 worth of stuff that needed to be fixed. I blogged about the ordeal of actually buying the car (should it really take longer to buy a car than a house?), but I love having it. I’ve left you the link to my blog on blogspot, if you want to check it out. I still haven’t managed to take it in for its 3 month check up, though. Dreading having the kids run laps around the dealership while I try to control them. I’m right there with you on that count.

  27. It’s Paid For counts for a lot! Our van was paid off in May and then immediately the master brake cylinder went out and then I got rear-ended. It’s in the body shop now. Sigh. But yes, at least it’s paid for!

  28. I am all about paid for vehicles!!! My explorer is a 1999 with almost 130K on it, but it was bought used, with cash and I do not mind the $1000 or less repair bill each year.
    Of course I am squirreling away some cash in my car replacement fund…just in case it dies!

  29. there is nothing like a car that is paid for. we have one car paid for and one that’s not. i am totally counting the months until that one is paid off. every time we make a payment i do a little happy dance that we are that much close to NO CAR PAYMENT.

    of course by then the one that’s paid for will most likely need to be replaced *sigh*

  30. AARRGGHH!! Car problems! I’ve been writing about problems of my own–and my car is a young thing with only 85,000 miles! 🙂 We’re now driving around in 90 degree weather with NO A/C!!! I can so relate to this post.

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