Last week my brother was at our business getting some new tires on his truck when he said Dad’s van needs a tow from Dad’s house to the shop.
Shortly before noon I drove the flatbed truck over to their home and loaded up the green machine.
The van looks ordinary enough but it is far from ordinary for this reason:
This was a picture of the odometer on Dad’s van when we delivered it back to his home on Sunday after we got it back on the road for him. When I picked the van up on last Tuesday he handed me a piece that had fallen off the motor or so he thought. Also the accessory belt was laying on the front seat of the car. He said when he was picking up his sailboat from the storage area that he heard a loud noise and stopped to check it out when he found the piece that had come off the van. He continued to drive the van home.
After some investigation at our shop my husband determined that the piece had come off the end of the waterpump and that is what he needed to get the van back on the road for Dad. My husband talked to Dad and asked if they should fix the van. My brother thought we ought to take it to the local junkyard. Dad said fix it. So one of our mechanics put on a new waterpump and started filling the radiator with antifreeze and about as fast as he put the antifreeze in, it came out. Apparently when Dad drove it home from the storage area it got a bit hot and the 400, 000 miles radiator burst one of its seams from the heat. The van would need a new radiator.
On a vehicle with that many miles my husband opted to find a used radiator for the van. We had one on a parts vehicle in back with only about 140,000 miles on that radiator for about half the cost of the new radiator so my husband put it on the van, filled it up with antifreeze and we delivered it back to Mom and Dad’s home on Sunday morning.
Dad bought this van from my husband in the late 1990’s, I think it was 1998. Dad could tell you the year but I don’t remember. Dad and Mom are the second owners of the van and Dad loved the van from the beginning because it has a plastic body. It wouldn’t show rust. I’m not saying there isn’t any rust on the vehicle just that you won’t see it on the body but if you look underneath….
When the van hit 100,000 miles Dad was sure to tell us what a good vehicle the van has been. Then it was onto 200,000 miles he let us know it was still hanging in there. Next came 300,000 miles. Dad uses his van daily almost like a truck. He hauls his golf clubs and whatever else he needs for the day. Last summer when he was running for Congress he and my Mom hauled campaign literature and yard signs with them in the back of the van as they dropped literature in the district.
Dad will tell you that the van is still running the original motor but he did have to rebuild one transmission on it and later replace the transmission. It has served him well over the past 14 years or so. The last van that Dad owned didn’t have 400,000 plus miles on it when he quit driving it but it had many awesome trips to exciting places. Dad drove Mom, me and my four brothers and sisters all the way from Minnesota to El Salvador and back in that van one Christmas vacation in 1978.
The odometer read 400209 when we dropped it off on Sunday but its more than that by now and its “On the Road Again” like the old country western song.
Paula Tohline Calhoun
June 7, 2011 at 9:36 am
What make and model is that van? WOW!
June 7, 2011 at 11:16 am
It’s a 1995 Pontiac Transport. Dad refuses to park it as long as it doesn’t cost much for repairs. They do have a 2003 Buick Park Avenue for their second car so if the van breaks down they have the Buick to get around. They could afford a newer car for Dad but he just feels its the financially responsible thing to do.
June 7, 2011 at 9:57 am
Go GM! 🙂
June 7, 2011 at 11:18 am
We would definitely agree with that! My car is a 1999 Olds Intrigue that has 223,000 miles on it. When we have our car and our four kids cars in the driveway we total more than a million miles on our odometers combined.
June 7, 2011 at 11:53 am
And people try and say they need a new car every five years!! Hah! (our truck is a 1979, but it doesn’t have 400,000 miles, but more than 200,000)
June 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm
If you are worried about having the latest and greatest I suppose that you would “Need?” or is it “Want?” a new car every five years.
We are not a flashy bunch around our home but are content with what we have.
June 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm
Holy Smokes! I’d say he’s gotten his money’s worth!
June 7, 2011 at 12:30 pm
The key to having a car this long is regular maintenance and being willing to spend some money along the way. Once people start putting money into their older cars they think it is a waste of their money. Sometimes depending on the car it is a waste but for most cars it is worth it when you look at the cost of an upgrade especially if you have to take out a loan and carry full-coverage insurance because you have a loan.
June 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm
Great story! I’d say Dad is getting his money’s worth out of that investment. Thanks for the good lesson in how a little maintenance (and discipline) can save a lot of money.
June 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm
Dad has always been good discipline and maintenance.
June 7, 2011 at 2:47 pm
That’s a lot of mileage in 16 years ~ an average of 70 miles a day! My 11 year old Honda only has 95,000 miles on it ~ an average of 23 miles a day.
Maybe that means your dad is riding in circles around me. 😀
June 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Dad put a lot of miles on the two years before he retired. They bought a cabin a 100 miles from home before he retired and they went to the cabin every weekend after work. About five years before that they started taking trips to Phoenix to see Mom’s brother and other relatives all over the US. Mom is the youngest of nine kids and only three of them live or lived in Minnesota.
June 7, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Some days I feel as though I have much more mileage on me than that.
June 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm
Me too! Especially the first ten minutes in the morning and the last ten minutes before bed each day.
Carol Ann Hoel
June 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm
Great to hear when a vehicle lives up to its expectations and more. Blessings, Jeanne…
June 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm
We sell and repair cars for a living and there are definitely brands and models of cars we love to sell for their ease of maintenance or little maintenance.
June 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm
I don’t kow what’s more amazing, Jeanne…the 400,000 miles or the fact that your dad drove you guys from Minnesota all the way to El Salvador! That must have been some trip.
June 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm
Dad has always been up for an adventure and Mom too. We had a foreign exchange student that lived with us from El Salvador and Dad decided to drive us all down to see Claudia for Christmas. It was a great trip full of adventure.
June 8, 2011 at 8:32 am
That’s great, flyinggma! I think your dad really got his money’s worth out of that one!
June 9, 2011 at 8:02 am
Yup and he’s proud of it.
June 10, 2011 at 12:16 pm
Ok, you dad beat me. I thought we did great with our 2000 Chrysler Voyager having 321K on it. It is amazing what a little maintenance can do for a car.
June 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm
How true…It is amazing what some maintenance can do for a vehicle in prolonging its life.
June 11, 2011 at 6:25 am
Wow, Jeanne…our Corolla had just over 300,000 km. on it when the transmission failed…Jim commutes to work about an hour-and-a-half every day.
When I was a kid, we had a 1965 Chev Bel-Air that went over 200,000 miles…that was quite a lot in those days!
Hope your dad’s van keeps working well…
June 11, 2011 at 7:32 am
I remember when we sold Dad a car in the early 80’s. He was so excited about it hitting 200,000 that he drove it to a very scenic place in St. Paul, Minnesota and took a picture of it and made it into a poster. 200,000 used to be a really big deal. Now a lot of vehicles if maintained with do that no problem.