Friday, June 19, 2009

Doing the numbers on my RAV4

The economics of automobiles have never made any sense to me. Perhaps that’s because they aren’t meant to. Car buying and car ownership aren't rational decisions.

Today I spent $466 to have my 1999 RAV4’s shocks replaced (the thing rode like a buckboard) and the power steering fluid flushed and replaced. Likewise the brake fluid.

The mechanic also checked out the rest of the Blue-Green RAV. It generally got a good bill of health.

I reckon the tab was approximately 10 percent of the value of the little SUV, which has 86,500 miles on it. I don’t drive it all that much, but when I do, it reliably gets me from A to B, Z as the case may be.

Recently, for reasons that are hard to defend, I delved into what it would cost to buy a listed 2003 Prius. The answer was $8,500 plus the hassle of selling the RAV with its old shocks. With new shocks and the other work, I would have been out $9,000 before selling the RAV, which would likely have gone for $4,500.

So total out of pocket for a Prius after RAV sale would have been $4,500, more or less. Assuming, that is, there was nothing wrong with the Prius. Consumer Reports puts a big bad black dot next to “electrical” on 2003 Priuses. The owner I talked to on the phone said there was no problem with his car, but who wants the worry?

Then there’s the “little white van” factor.

I’m a fan of the "No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency of Botswana" series by Alexander McCall Smith. The hero of the books is Precious Ramotswe, a “traditionally build” lady detective in Botswana. She adores her “little white van,” which always seems to be on its last rims. Ramotswe’s husband, J.L.B. Matekoni, happens to be a well-respected mechanic, and he knows the van's useful life is near its end.

In the series' most recent book, “Tea Time for the Traditionally Built,” the van finally becomes “late” as they say of the deceased in Botswana. The good news is that the story doesn’t end there. Little white vans, it seems, get second chances.

I’ve become a bit like Mma Ramotswe when it comes to my RAV4. What price reliable conveyance? What price the miles we've traveled together. The bonds we've forged? Never mind sex appeal, graceful lines and on-board gadgetry. We're talking loyalty here.

All things considered, $466 was cheap at the price.

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Blogger Eamon said...

And you can load many more books for the sale in your RAV4 too. :-)

10:14 AM  

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