Saturday, August 22, 2009

My 1997 Ford Exploder died a couple of weeks back.

I'd driven to work that day. At lunch I went to a funeral in Snellville (mother of Mrs LivinInAmerica's best friend). Driving home from work that evening, I was thinking about stopping at The Old Mill in Chamblee for a couple of pints when I noticed the Exploder was losing power and all sorts of previously unknown lights were flashing up at me from the dashboard. I pulled over, but not to go to the pub.

Safely (well, as safe as you can be on top end I-285 in Atlanta at rush hour) off the road, I called Mrs LivinInAmerica. No response. Obviously commiserating with the BFF. OK. Called AAA. Tow in place in 30 minutes. Hauled the Exploder to the Tim Stewart Ford dealership on PIB, inside I-285. Unloaded it and filled out an after-hours work order. Used my Breeze card to get the rest of the way home on MARTA. (I am *such* a boy scout. "Semper Paratus" - "Always a Parrot" - as the USCG has it.)

Talked next day to the maintenance techs: blown head gasket. Cost of repair: greater than value of car. Silver lining: engine will run long enough to be killed with sodium silicate. So, cash-for-clunkers candidate.

Mrs LivinInAmerica hates the Exploder. Too much a truck. Even though a new Exploder is not in my future, I'm enough of a "Buy American" bigot that I wanted a Ford of some sort (given that I won't buy from government motors), so we went shopping at the Exploder's mortuary, Tim Stewart Ford.

Mrs LivinInAmerica liked the Ford EDGE. "It's so *you*, but it drives like a car." Yeah. OK.

So, while we're figuring things out, I'm using MARTA to get to work and back, the Exploder's parked on the street in front of the house, and the Obama administration is completely screwing up the cash-for-clunkers program. It's a sort of dry run for health care reform, I guess. You know, to get us used to the death-inducing Charlie-Foxtrots we can expect when the VA (Motto: "We Hate Vets!") is providing health care to all of us. But I digress.

This past Friday, the Obama administration declared an end to cash-for-clunkers. Mrs LivinInAmerica went into overdrive to figure out what we should do. Another drive scheduled in a Ford EDGE. Meanwhile, I'd been looking at other options.

On Friday evening we drove an EDGE for a second time. The way I wanted it (leather, gps, satellite radio), it was a $40,000 car. While on the test drive, we (me and Mrs LivinInAmerica) realized that the interior ceiling was coming away from the car's roof. A 2010 Ford EDGE, a $40,000 car, and the interior was falling in on us.

After, we went to CarMax and tested a 2007 Honda Pilot with leather, gps and satellite radio. We bought it immediately. Despite being about three years older, the fit and finish were an order of magnitude better, for thousands of dollars less. Despite Ford rebates and cash-for-clunkers, a second-hand, three model-year old Japanese car was better than what I saw on the Ford lot.

So. I have a new SUV. And it's not an American brand.

Sic transit gloria mundi, or some such.

The Exploder? I'll either donate it to charity, or sell it for parts.

Given my history with cars, this is probably the second-to-last car I'll ever buy. I'm not sure what that means, completely. It definitely means Ford lost a once in a decade sale. Enough of those and, well, you don't exist any more, do you?

Jeezus. Interior detaching? On a new car? BTW, I got 251,886 miles out of the late lamented Exploder. Would I get that from the new, interior-detaching Ford EDGE?

(BTW, The maintenance techs at the Ford Dealership On Peachtree Industrial Boulevard Inside The Perimeter, currently styled "Tim Stewart Ford," have always been consummate professionals. They always took good care of me, and I am sorry to be leaving them.)

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