Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Car Woes

Rewind to bachelor Mike. He was living in Hawaii, making a solid income and driving his Audi Q5, affectionately called Leisl. Leisl and her all-weather mats fared the Hawaii sand well.  Her trunk stored his golf clubs and scuba gear indefinitely without a lot of trouble. Her internal organs allowed Mike to go way too fast on the drive home and all of her bells and whistles allowed for a sense of pride whenever Mike drove people around.  He loved that car.  She made the move with us to DC, but we knew it was only a matter of time before we had to bid farewell. 

We knew that it didn't make sense to bring such a nice car like that to Turkey. The small streets and less than organized driving just asked for lots of scratches, dings, and marks on her exterior.  Plus, we knew we'd stand out even more than we already did with a big SUV (welcome to America, where everything is bigger) in a country like Turkey.  So, one gloomy spring afternoon in 2015, we sold Leisl (Mike may have marked it down as the saddest day of his life) and brought home a Volkswagen Golf.

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We miss you Leisl!
Anya, the Golf, is quite different from Leisl.  She came with 70,000 miles on her and not a bell or whistle was found.  She was perfect for Turkey, though, because she was older, smaller and came with no car payment. She had a clean bill of health and little history of any problems, besides one minor fender bender.   Despite the contrast between her and Leisl, we were pleased. She made the move with us to Turkey, arriving not long after us, and we all spent the summer and subsequent few months travelling around Turkey.  She passed her 75,000 mile inspection with flying colors and we were pleased. 

Anya made the move with us to Germany and we were happy to have her to do lots of driving around her homeland of Germany, as well as surrounding Europe.  Something must have happened on that move to Germany though because within a few months of arrival, her stellar track record of being low-maintenance quickly plummeted.  In October, we were driving with our friends to the Czech Republic when she had trouble accelerating on the highway.  She recovered after some rest, but we were concerned.  A few days at the dealership and a $1200 car repair bill later, we all went home hoping and praying that this was a one-time thing. 

Fast forward to February.  Mike has returned from almost 24 hours of traveling home from Kyrgystan and we are exiting the highway on the way home from the airport in Anya.  We are stopped at a red light on the exit ramp when a light comes on the dash board.  Mike decides to turn the car off and then back on to see if the light goes away.  He turns the car off and when he goes to turn it back on, all we hear is a clicking noise. So, here we are on the exit ramp of the highway, in Germany where we don't speak German, in the rain, with a broken down car and literally no idea what to do.  After many attempts to get in touch with USAA, we finally made it through.  They said they would send a tow truck within the next hour, so we waited. An hour passed and no tow truck showed up. After another call to USAA and a less than pleasant conversation with the people on the other end, another tow truck was sent, picked up Mike and the car (I headed home) and took them back to the dealership.  Another $1000+ car repair bill later and we are all happy to have that ordeal behind us. 

At many points throughout this whole ordeal did we debate selling her, but the import fees and taxes we would have had to pay made it not worth it.  So, we are stuck with this car.   She only has 83,000 miles on her at this point and we've now invested half the value of the car in to her, so we're really hoping that our troubles are behind us and we can enjoy survive a few more years together.  Ideally, Anya would be our "second" car when we get back to the States this summer, serving as Mike's transportation to and from work and any other minor trips around town. Ideally, she'd last through the next three year tour Mike has on the submarine. We're going to have to purchase another car for me, which will be our family car and the car we take on long trips, so we'd like to not have two car payments at once.  I think both Mike and I are put off by used cars (and possibly Volkswagens) after this whole experience, as well.  

I'm pretty sure during our issues in the Czech Republic, making the repair payments on Anya and sitting for three hours waiting for the tow truck, Mike reminisced on his time with Leisl over and over again.  She was quite the lady and set the bar high when it comes to car expectations. We both knew going into this adventure with Anya that she would serve a different purpose than Leisl, but I'm pretty sure neither of us thought our experience with her would be quite so different. 
  • Have you ever bought a used car? How did it turn out?
  • What would you have done in this situation?
  • Any recommendations on SUVs to serve as family car when we get back? We're leaning towards the CR-V or RAV-4 (like everyone else in America), but are open to suggestions.