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Journal FortKnox's Journal: What a Christmas [Updated] 37

My minivan's transmission blew yesterday. Called around. Best cost.... $2200. The van's worth $3k-$4k, so its not worth fixing.
I can't afford another car payment until I pay off my other car (which isn't until April or May), and with the baby coming in Feb.... ugh.

Worst of all, I dunno what I can do with the van. Told the mechanic to find out what the most someone is willing to offer. I'm guessing I'm not gonna sell if for above $500. I thought about donating it to a charity if they accept broken vehicles and then writing off the full cost on my tax return (can you write off the full cost?).

Now I have one car, and have to travel through a snowstorm to get to my parents house. Will my luck change? Here's hoping...

Merry Christmas

Update: Well, that whole saga is over with. Just sold the van to a mechanic for $400. Better than I'd be able to sell it from my house, so I took it.
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What a Christmas [Updated]

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  • but to cheer you up, the patsy boys lost last night ... home field adv coming to steeler nation baby!
    • Don't jump too fast.. they need to take on two teams vying for playoff spots in the next two weeks... gotta win one of them (here's hoping if they do lose one it won't be to baltimore... I hate the ravens).

      But, yeah, hearing the pats lost was the best news today.
      • I think we have Baltimore. There record on the road against winning teams is bad- real bad. Billick has yet to sweep a season series against us too. Jamal Lewis is nicked.

        How about T.O.? That really blows the NFC wide open in my eyes.

        Sorry about your car man. My brakes went on my car this summer and coupled with the other things it was too much- sucks losing a car like that.
  • by grub ( 11606 )

    Well, if you can use public transportation to get to work and back you may be able to get by with just renting a vehicle on weekends until you're able to pick up another vehicle. Weekend rates are quit reasonable. I did that for quite a while before getting my car in February.
  • Donate it fast (Score:3, Informative)

    by John Harrison ( 223649 ) <> on Tuesday December 21, 2004 @12:04PM (#11147827) Homepage Journal
    My understanding is that this is the last year for the rather liberal rules for donating junkers. In the future they will only let you write off what the Kidney Foundation or whoever it is actually sells it for. Right now you can write off the blue book.
  • On my 95 pick up. Luckly it only cost 1,200 to rebuild. Man, these mechanics can charge an arm and a leg for repairs. I always wonder, am I in the wrong line of work.
    I also need to learn how to drive standard. They say standard trasnmissions are much easier to repair than automatics.
    Any advice on how to learn Standard when all you've ever driven is automatic??
    • I learned stick after automatic. Basically, get a beat up old stick (an old 89 Geo Metro for me), and learn it with someone who knows what they are doing. Once you pick it up, get a nice one and you'll find its cake to drive (cause if you learned on a beatup, they have poor transmissions, so once you know the nuances, picking up a nice tranmission will be a pleasure to drive).
    • I taught my step-son to drive a standard this summer. What we did was: I drove to a nearby parking lot in the evening with lots of empty space, and long rows, where we could see the traffic signal on the road going parallel. Then my son took over.

      First, we practiced just going from a full stop to constant motion (1st gear only) without killing the engine (much). Then we practiced the same in synch with the traffic signal. When it turned green, he had to go. Of course, he killed it a few times. After the t

    • They say standard trasnmissions are much easier to repair than automatics.

      Much. I can have a manual transmission stripped and cleaned in a couple of hours. I wouldn't even attempt to dismantle an automatic. Yes, it's possible, but it falls into the category of "life's too short, I can pay someone else to do that". Kinda like track rod bushes. Yes, I can do them myself. But some jobs are just easier to get the garage around the corner to do...

      Any advice on how to learn Standard when all you've ever drive

      • Yes, oddly enough in the US you can go in and take the test in an automatic and be fully licensed to drive manual. I doubt it matters much, because manual transmissions aren't something most people just pick up and learn in a couple minutes, so they aren't going anywhere anyway. But once you get shifting down it's like driving anything else, so there's not much else to test. The rules of the road don't change.

        I took my test in a manual, I own a manual, and I hate driving automatics. Highly recommend manuals

        • I didn't realize how much I really enjoy a stick until I bought my current car []. I've talked a few times about converting it, but for now I just drive it like a stick, which is actually pretty fun. I just wish it had more than 3 speeds.
          • Is the Neon actually fun? Every experience I've had driving one (just a few times) left me wanting. It wasn't very responsive, didn't seem to want to get up and go, and was kinda loud while it was at it. I don't think I drove any of the "sport" variety though.
            • Yeah, they can be very fun; the Sport package especially so because it has more horsepower and stiffer suspension for better handling.

              Also, the key is to train the computer... Took me a month or two of consistent hard driving to get it how I like. I haven't timed it lately, but I know that 0-60 is under 10 seconds.

              It is a bit loud inside, but mostly above 70 MPH and/or on rough roads.

              I was looking into getting an Electric Blue Neon SRT-4 w/a sunroof, even had the local dealer find one for me... But, I de
    • It takes coordination and two feet. If NASCAR drivers can do it, you should be able to learn it without much problem. After all, they only know how to turn left!
    • wait until you learn manual(stick), have been driving a long time on it, then use an automatic car and come to a stop.... :)
      • Lots of fun taking the foot off all pedals on flat road and expecting to stay stopped. Also fun is going for the clutch and remembering that isn't the clutch but the e-brake right before pushing. Another joy is going for the shifter, to realize that moving the gear from D to anything else would be a bad idea. Man I hate automatics.
        • Also fun is going for the clutch and remembering that isn't the clutch but the e-brake right before pushing.

          Yep, that or what I was thinking is when you pound the floor of the car trying to push on a clutch that isn't there, doh!

          • So rarely do I drive an automatic that I've come to plant my left foot firmly against the left side of the car and not move it when I do. Otherwise I do end up doing something silly like mentioned.

            I really can't stand automatics, they tend to respond in odd ways and just generally aren't as much fun to drive. That, and now that winter weather is upon me, I like slowing without using the brakes. It's far less turbulent shifting down through gears and letting the car slow itself than it is to hit the brakes a

            • That, and now that winter weather is upon me, I like slowing without using the brakes. It's far less turbulent shifting down through gears and letting the car slow itself than it is to hit the brakes and wonder if I'll slip. Hard to do with an automatic.

              A friend of mine used to have a little manual hatchback that he would take out in the fresh snow covered streets (usually in the nearby industrial park) get that thing into a fast spin, then shift while spinning to control the speed of rotation and control

              • I don't fancy myself enough of a crack driver to do that sort of thing, though I do know how to drive in the snow. I'm a pretty good driver, and I really prefer the amount of control the manual gives me. I know when I want to shift, how I want to shift, and it just eliminates the lag (or outright wrong response) that the automatics create. Those make me nervous because it's time I'm not in proper control of the car. If I'm driving in snow or rain I want it to be in a manual, hands down.
              • I did that with my Mom's car* in the parking lot of my high school the year we got a lot of snow. She was in the car at the time and agreed to it. I'm sure she had white knuckles though.

                Too bad that it tore the CV boots a little.

                * It's a 1989 Honda Civic Silver 3-door 5-speed. Fun car; my little sister has it now.
            • yes yes and yes.

              ALso, I'm surprised at how much worse my gas-mileage is on my 1992 automatic vs. my 1994 stickshift.

              The only advantage to the auto; stop and go traffic.
              • I drive about 30+ minutes of stop and go traffic a day now, and done properly the manual isn't a big disadvantage. The real trick is to leave enough space between you and the next person that you can just coast along at constant speed while everybody else averages that same speed braking and speeding up. Hit that sweet spot and you rarely have to shift, even if you're only going 5-10 mph.

                If there's big periods of stop, followed by a short period of go, then it doesn't work so well and automatic would be bet

                • I do the exact same thing in my Neon. It has a 3-speed automatic tranny.

                  I hate to stop on the freeway and I do everything I can to avoid it. I'm usually very successful.

                  I believe I picked this up by analyzing what the semi truck drivers were doing. I noticed that they weren't stopping as frequently nor as long as the passenger cars. I observed that they made sure to keep distance and gently accelerate and decelerate, leaving gaps between the cars ahead and themselves. Of course, most of this is the limita
                  • I'd picked up on doing it just for the sake of sanity, but saw a webpage (which I can't find now) on the topic not too long ago. Somebody out in Washington with too much time in rush hour analyzing the waves that form in traffic. Came to the conclusion that everybody who drives stick seems to, move smoothly and traffic is more managable. Move quick and stop and repeat just makes things choppy and slows everybody down.
            • I often use the auto tranny to slow down my Neon... It isn't too rough if the fuel supply that the engine expects for the destination gear is met... I give a hair more gas as I downshift to meet that expectation as I shift (during the sub-second clutch engaging), then back off the throttle to slow down.

              The trick is to really know the car and know how it will behave under all circumstances.

              For instance, I know that the fuel cut-off governor on my car engages at 50 MPH in 1st, 87 MPH in 2nd and 122 MPH in 3
        • I have a lot of fun driving my car like a stick. I know, I know, the fun will stop when the tranny drops; I'll deal with that when the time comes.
          Cars don't last forever anyway.
          • My car's trying to last forever. '93 Altima, 130k miles on it, still drives without problems. It has a few odd quirks to it, but what old car doesn't?

            I make sure to bring it up to 6k rpms now and again, just so it doesn't forget it can. Doesn't seem to mind it since it redlines at 6.5k. That's about 30 mph in 1st and 60 in 2nd. Kinda fun, but no sports car. Quick enough for me for now though.

      • Doesn't bother me any... I just put it in neutral or down shift to let the engine help slow down the car if I'm racing around, same as in a stick.
    • Find a real beater, something that's falling apart. Don't pay anything more than a couple hundred bucks for it, you may end up hurting it anyway and aren't going to want to drive it afterwards if you do. Things like major clutch wear, gear grinding, and other stuff. You might get a couple other friends who want to learn to pitch in, and buy something nice for friend who knows how to drive stick to come and teach the lot of you.

      Find a flat spot in the country, learn how to put it in first and go forward. Con

    • No one will let you practice on their car; so buy your own stick and practice.

      I did this; my auto was going to die, I found a stick for the right price and had a friend test drive it. I bought it, and he drove it back to my place. I had another friend drive it to a parking lot and he taught me for an hour or two.

      I spent the next few weeks stalling out.

      Now I adore stick shift and lament that my wife refuses to learn it. They SUCK for stop-and-go heavy commuting traffic but I LOVE them to pieces.
      • I didn't buy a $500 beater; I bought a $5000 Honda Civic; this was going to be my next and ONLY car. But the couple of hundred dollar beater is a good idea, too!
    • Any advice on how to learn Standard when all you've ever driven is automatic??

      Rent one for a week and grind away. It does not take long to get the hang of it unless you have hills.
  • I know its a bit late, and this mirrors much of what has already been said...
    1. I really like manual tranmissions. Much cheaper to fix, they break down less, and when it comes time to replace them...
    2. I go to a u-pull-it yard and get a used transmission. It takes some effort to pull, but three hours isn't bad when you realize you are saving as much as $2000 over the operation (usually more like $1000). This costs about $200.
    3. Get that transmission rebuilt at a transmission house (the place the transmission sh
  • ...scrap metal merchants and junkyards. Maybe put it up for auction on eBay with a suitable reserve.

"'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis 'tis true." -- Poloniouius, in Willie the Shake's _Hamlet, Prince of Darkness_