Car Troubles—-Ask the Mamas: Why did you choose to buy your current vehicle?

I was just talking to my friend Marianne the other day about how grateful I am that we are able to drive a paid off and reliable Honda Odyssey. I was speculating years more of driving it since it only has $122,000 miles, and Honda’s are supposed to last forever. Well friends, let’s roll forward one week later.

I drove out in the middle of nowhere on a friday night by myself to go and listen to my friend Karen sing with her band. On the way home, I had a feeling that instead of taking the windy/desolate road home like I had come, I should instead take the highway . Within 2 miles of being on the highway, my van slowly came to a dead stop just in time for me to pull over. At 11:00 p.m., Chris called  a tow company to take the car home, and our friend Kevin was nice enough to come and give me a ride home since Chris was at home with the kids. We knew that our transmission had probably just completely died, although we hoped that it would be an easier/less expensive fix. Well, after finding out that the fix for the car would be close to the same price that it is worth, we have decided that it will be better to get a different car. We were able to sell our van to a guy who specializes in fixing transmission in odysseys, but we have to wait until the refinancing of our house goes through until we can buy another car. Here are some of my thoughts on our current situation:

  • I am grateful that the car broke down where it did. I was planning on leaving a day later to drive Miriam and I down to Klamath Falls for a few days, and I am so glad that my van didn’t break down in the middle of the middle nowhere in the snow (I ended up taking the train.. which of course is another interesting story as always). If you were going to break down van, thanks for choosing a more convenient timing when I wasn’t with any of my kids (although convenient probably would not be the best word to describe the experience).
  • Chris and I did research online to find that many Odysseys from 2000-2003 have transmission issues. Oh well… now we know that we need to do more research on specific years in the future and not just the model.
  • The timing kind of sucks being right before Christmas and in the middle of refinancing our house  but…… I am not stressing too much. I know that everything will work out, and that we are just going to have to be really frugal for awhile. This is all a pain, but if this is my biggest problem in life, then I am pretty blessed.
  • Speaking of Christmas, I am feeling very pleased with myself that I already had all of my family’s presents ready. I bought almost all of the kids presents at garage sales, so I probably spent a grand total of $100 on all 3 kids combined. If I had waited until now to buy presents, the kids may not be getting any :).
  • We will not be buying another vehicle for another few weeks at least, but we are thinking of buying maybe a toyota sienna or maybe the mazda 5. Chris has tried to persuade me to maybe go to a 5 seater wagon or sedan, but I had to inform  him today that “Once a minivan driver,  always  a minivan driver.” I am leaning towards the sienna (and not just because it would also make a cute girl’s name), but I am intrigued by the Mazda 5, but we are just deciding if it realistically has enough room for us (it is a 6 passenger but with limited storage space… but better gas mileage… and it is cheaper). We are also open to another Odyssey, but if we get one, we will probably aim for a 2006 or newer (if we can find a really good deal on one).

What kind of car do you drive? Why did you decide to buy the car that you have? Was it practical, cheap, reliable, you just knew that you looked cool in your ride :), or a combination of one or more of those reasons? I am really hoping for something that will be reliable  but obviously pretty affordable, and I would love to hear your experiences… good or bad with your vehicles. OH, and I dream of having leather seats in a van, but  it may not be very likely that we will be able to find one that is affordable enough with leather. Thoughts please???

Katy - December 10, 2011 - 11:00 pm

Hey Kara, Sorry to hear about your car troubles! Never fun! I should tell you that we bought a Mazda5 a year ago and love it. Lemme know if you want to take it for a test spin with your kids and gear. (I understand your concern about fitting all the kids and all of their stuff, so don’t hestitate to take me up on it. :)
–Katy (Harper’s mom)

Liahona - December 10, 2011 - 11:31 pm

I drive a Honda insight amd LOVE it. It was a little spendy but its a hybrid so I get ridiculously awesome mileage (50 mpg). I save so much money in gas and it’s good for the environment.

adrienne w - December 10, 2011 - 11:56 pm

We have a 2007 Odyssey. We bought it when we found out we were expecting our 3rd. At the time, we had some extra income from resident managing and we got amazing financing, which I’m still so grateful for because we’ve had such low monthly payments and have accrued very little interest. So even though it’s an expensive vehicle, the financing kept our payments low. We haven’t had any problems with it in the 4 years we’ve had it and I still love it. I think I’d have a really hard time driving anything smaller at all, because I’m so used to the cargo space. Every time we go on a trip, I’m amazed by what we fit in it! The only issue for me is gas mileage, but as far as vans go, it’s good. And there is only so much you can do when you have 4 kids. I would have loved a big SUV for coolness factor, but I couldn’t justify the gas consumption. I hope you find a good car!

Mondisa - December 11, 2011 - 8:30 am

Luis talked me into an ’05 Dodge Grand Caravan before Kaleb was born. I’m definitely NOT happy that I got a minivan, but functionality wise, it really is a great family vehicle. It fits all of us and all of our stuff. I’m hard on it and other than needing breaks every 25,000 miles, there’s nothing wrong with it and I’ve put about 70,000 miles on it since I got it 4 years ago. I will never, ever, finance another vehicle though. What a complete waste of money.

Last year, we decided that we needed another family-mover with 4WD so we bought a 1999 Expedition. I like it better than the newer van and we prefer to drive it. The only downside is the gas mileage and even then, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

We did a lot of research of both vehicles before we bought them. Consumer Reports, online reviews, etc. We wanted something reliable, with plenty of space that wasn’t overpriced and that wouldn’t need a ton of maintenance.

Good luck! I know car shopping can be stressful, but try to enjoy it. :)

camie - December 11, 2011 - 8:48 am

I drive a 2000 Toyota Sienna with leather interior. I love it! I’ve never loved the color (blue) but it was so hard to find a Sienna as they are very popular and we wanted to buy a pre-owned vehicle (it was 2 years old when we bought it and saved a ton of money that way). This car has been a dream when it comes to reliability. We chose a Toyota because I previously drove a 1992 Toyota Camry right into the grave. My grandparents bought it brand new and put close to 200,000 miles on it within several years then gave it to me. I put about 20,000 miles on it without a single problem until everything went wrong at once. We did not have a lot of money and knew we wouldn’t any time soon so we decided to stick with a Toyota because we were so impressed. I can’t say I have had any complaints! I’m sorry about your car problems; such a drag!!
P.S. Buy leather if you can! So great with kids!!

Rachel - December 11, 2011 - 2:21 pm

We also have a 2000 Toyota Sienna. Right after Seamus was born we sold Ryan’s beloved 1991 Toyota Pick-up since it only had 2 seatbelts. In a crazed-irrational-new parent state, we bought the Sienna without even taking it to a mechanic. Thank goodness it was fine. We’ve gone 2 years and done nothing but oil changes and a flat tire. (Lately it has been leaking a bit of oil, though) I love it!

kara - December 11, 2011 - 9:02 pm

I may take you up on that!
You make any ride look sweet girl!
Good to hear about the 2007.
You are going to need a little extra space for your sweet new bundle :)!
So good to hear that you have had it for that long! I am really hoping for leather if possible!
Good to hear also Rachel!!
Thanks for the feedback!!

Katy - December 11, 2011 - 9:32 pm

Sure thing! Just lemme know via FB if/when you want to try it out. :)

Katy - December 11, 2011 - 9:43 pm

Oh, and for the record, we used to get an AMAZING price on our Mazda5 when they were rolling out the ’11 and trying to get rid of the ’10 models. We got it for a few thousand dollars BELOW INVOICE from Murray Mazda in Gresham. Well worth the drive. They might have similar offers now since it was about this time of year last year we got ours. Check out: