Friday, April 30, 2010

Only 35 more to go

At the end of last April we acquired 48 months of car payments. We bought a 2006 Grand Caravan with 24,000 miles on it and I wrote this post about it.

I thought I would update that post with my thoughts after a year of ownership


We had looked at 2008 version in an electric blue first & I liked it more. But I didn’t like it $4000 more. It had the same mileage & I like the radio better. I mostly liked that it was electric blue.

Because there are exactly zero electric blue mini vans in the Wal Mart parking lot at any given time.

But silver?

You can’t swing a cat without hitting a silver mini van in the Wal Mart parking lot.

However it does have electric doors, so I can stand in the general vicinity of several silver mini vans, push the remote & then go to whichever one’s door opens.

***update*** This losing-the-car-in-the-parking-lot thing is pretty much a monthly occurrence. I regularly find myself standing next to a silver minivan, pressing the remote unlock button & wondering if the battery on the remote has died because the door remains locked. It isn’t until I actually look in the van that I realize it isn’t mine. Then I start walking around pressing the rear door button on the remote until it opens & I can finally locate my own minivan

Mayhem loves the electric doors. He pushes the button & then stands in the doorway waiting until the last possible second to leap through the gap, like Indiana Jones.

Assuming Indiana Jones would have anything to do with a mini van.

***update*** Mayhem gave this up during the summer. Now, both boys are so blasé about the auto doors they can’t even be bothered to push the button to close the door after them, leaving the Magic Door Button Fairy (me) to do so

I wanted a car with more space for luggage and thought a third row would be nice for the 3 times a year I need to seat more than 4 people in the car. We looked at a lot of hatchbacks with 3rd row seating & then we got to the 08 Grand Caravan

It has this


Stow & go seating. No need to take out chairs or benches & find somewhere to store them.

And when the seat isn’t collapsed you have a storage bin!

The car has POCKETS! I couldn’t resist the pockets

It gives me the ability to do this


Havoc sits in the second row, Mayhem in the third & I get all this space to climb in and get everyone settled without pulling any muscles reaching over anyone.

The real bonus though is that they CAN’T TOUCH each other.

Sweet Mary & Jesus what an unexpected blessing!!! They can’t grab things away from each other. They can’t push or shove each other.  Drives are so much quieter now.

And! And! The boys decided all on their own that they wanted to sit that way! They do it willingly!

***update*** Seriously, y’all, this is key! The not sitting next to one another thing is so wonderful! Having that seat down makes the van feel so spacious and roomy! Even when Mayhem is alone riding with me, he sits in the back seat. He likes the shelf and pockets next his seat back there. I had to pop that seat up & move Mayhem into it when we bought the new TV and TV stand and OMG! the car felt sooooo crowded! And the boys COULD NOT STOP TOUCHING each other while they were sitting next to one another. I could not get that seat stowed again fast enough.

I may never pop up that other seat again.

It also gives us a place to put the dog crate.

The only drawback is Mayhem is so far back I have to throw snacks to him and hope he catches them.

Bring the water & pemmican! I’m headed for the back of the mini van!

Speaking of the back of the mini van


There is no trip to Sam’s I cannot make.

I won’t have to UPS clothes to FL for our vacation this year. 

DH won’t have to pack the explosives around the children when we buy fireworks in South Carolina.

It even has a roof rack, in case, you know, we want to bring our bed with us.

***update***I have not been to Sams much since I bought the car. With the end of needing diapers and formula and finding fresh chicken in bulk elsewhere, there hasn’t been much need for buying things at Sams. But! I was able to pack everything for our trip to FL and DH was able to buy a bunch of fireworks and all of it fit fine in the back area.  Plus it hauled a bunch of furniture from IKEA and the aforementioned TV and stand.

Then there is the entertainment system.


It doesn’t play 8 tracks, VHS or Blue ray but other than that you are good to go. It has a cassette player, a CD player that also plays mp3s, plus an AUX jack for my mp3 player & Sirius satellite radio. Hell, it may even get AM & FM stereo but where we live there is only the Christian Country station & a static-y NPR station from someplace about 75 miles or so away & I haven’t really tried those out.

It’s overkill in a big way. All I use is the Sirius and the AUX jack. But it makes no sense to have it replaced because I want to get rid of features.

***update*** I still only use the Sirius and the AUX jack & had to get SOMETHING INSTALLED to it so I can listen to my mp3 player while the kids are watching a movie. Somehow in all that media overkill that little feature got forgotten

Oh, and it has a 6 disc DVD changer. 6 DISCS people! That’s like 12 hour of non-stop movie viewing (or at least 12 hours of no arguments about who’s turn it is to pick a movie because that was all decided before we left home & you get what ever is next up in the player) And wireless headsets! We had a dual monitor portable DVD player we strapped to the back of our headrests in the Cruiser. They were connected by assorted cables & there were other wires that plugged into the car and headset wires…wires all over the damn place.

It’s not an option we would ever have chosen ourselves because it just seems like a hassle waiting to break, but I’m delighted to have it. We use it on any trip over 90 minutes long & we take one of those every month just about.

***update***We still think it is a hassle waiting to break but we still love it. It actually gets used less than I predicted. For instance it was last used when we came back from FL at the end of November. But it was like the Holy Grail of travel accessories for that trip. Mayhem has a tendency to switch receiver channels on his headset, thus cutting off the sound, and then wailing & whining about it NOT WORKING STUPID FING! and since we never know if it’s user error or dead battery & the headsets don’t receive in the front seats (behind the video screen), the passenger seat rider has to lean back at an extreme angle in their seat to get their head in front of the movie screen and then play with the buttons to test the headset, or pull over the car, get out, get in the back and then test the headset should there be no passenger available. Not fun. But since movies get watched on maybe 5 occasions all year, not that big a deal & hopefully Mayhem will be able to do his own troubleshooting before too long.

The car currently has 40,622 miles on it, which is sort of low for me but since I am not driving the kids to school & back any more thanks to the wonders of public school buses, I am not driving  250 miles a week.  It has to get a new inspection sticker today & the back brakes are squealing so I know they will need fixed, but I have high hopes that for the first time in about 5 years I am not going to get hit with a bunch of surprise repairs that need done.

Overall I’m liking the mini van.  Still wish it were electric blue though.


SciFi Dad said...

When we looked at minivans my wife wanted blue, but didn't like the shade that the model we had chosen came in (we were married to a brand because my dad used to work there so we get an insane deal on them) so we went with a red one instead... but not minivan red, like poppy red. It stands out quite nicely (and hoo boy have we benefited from that).

Unfortunately, it is from 2003, which predates the stow-and-go seating, so our bench has been in the garage since, well, 2003.

humel said...

This post was of particular interest to me because we're about to replace our car - and colour is high on my list, because there are so many silver cars in the UK too!! I will so lose my car every time I park if we get a silver one....