When Deb and I decided to put our plans for adventure in motion, we decided that we needed a cargo trailer (an RV just wasn’t in the budget this year), and an SUV to pull it.
We did our homework, and realized that Deb’s Jeep Liberty and my beloved Honda Element couldn’t pull the cargo trailer so we sold both of them (*sigh*) and, after test driving many SUV’s that were within our budget, we bought a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 121K on it. It was pretty and ran well – for about 3 weeks. After a lot of thumping and jerking the transmission died. We’re just glad it happened now rather than in Wyoming on a lonely stretch of road. It was still under warranty so no worries there.
The dealer gave us a loaner that began leaking oil 2 days after we got it. Back to the dealer, who then gave us a car off the lot to use (a 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible) that had a mildew problem. So much so that you had to drive with the windows open, but we were grateful for the wheels. Well, two days later the dealer wanted that car back because someone wanted to buy it. I’m sure they’ll be happy it’s a convertible.
We were then given a 2006 Mercury Sable that ran good and was dependable. We used that car for 3 weeks and finally got the call that the Jeep was ready (and had a used transmission installed). Sweet. I picked it up Saturday4/14 and brought it home. Now we were ready to haul stuff to storage with our cargo trailer!
I drove the Jeep the next day but felt a little shuddering going down Route 23. I made a quick stop in Butler but the car wouldn’t go into drive and the engine just revved. The transmission finally caught and the Jeep took off, but quickly died – engine just cut out. I let it roll to hopefully make it to a parking space but smoke started entering the inside and then began billowing up through the hood. I pulled into a spot and got out to open the hood. There were foot-high flames burning up the wiring, so I grabbed my stuff and ran over to the grass and called 911….and the dealer, to tell them what just happened.
The police arrived (4 cars) and fire department a little later. I sat there in the grass wondering what the hell just happened and couldn’t believe that the Jeep was burning up under the hood. The dealer’s mechanic, who’s garage is a short distance away brought over another loaner – yep, the Mercury Sable.
Needless to say, we made a trip to the dealer and told them we didn’t want the Jeep. Even if they totally rebuilt the damn thing, we didn’t want it. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a Jeep the same way again. The only other vehicle they had on the lot that fit our requirements (tow package and ability to pull a trailer) was a green 2004 Chevy Trailblazer. It was a nice looking SUV and considering our lack of choices, we went with that.
And it only has 99K on it, a big plus.
The only issue was it needed new tires and it didn’t have a spare. So, we sat down with the dealer and told him he needed to throw us a bone. After the Jeep ordeal, he needed to give us a good deal on the Chevy. He did want more money and I told him emphathically NO. He said he would work with us and currently, the Chevy is at the mechanic’s getting checked inside and out.
I drove to the mechanic the other day to check on the status of the Chevy and what was sitting there? The Jeep, all fixed and ready for a new home. The mechanic tried to talk me into taking it, but no thanks. I asked him what was wrong and he said that there was a nest inside the transmission that wasn’t removed prior to installation. That’s what happens when you take a transmission from the junk yard and don’t inspect it. Nope, we’ll go with the Chevy.
UPDATE: We’re now driving the Jeep as a loaner and waiting for a repair to the Chevy. Something about needing a new secondary intake hose(?) With over a month to go before we leave, we’re patiently waiting for our vehicle so we can drive it to make sure all is okay.
While this whole experience was indeed an ordeal, we’re grateful that it all happened now, while we’re in NJ rather than out on the road.
Everything does happen for a reason – sometimes we don’t know why but there’s a life lesson in this somewhere.