The Joys of a 30 Year Old Car

The Blue Ox

I drive a beautiful 1980 Volvo 240 station wagon.  We call it the Blue Ox.  My parents bought it in 1986, and it was the family station wagon until I started driving in high school.  I bought the car from my parents (they practically gave it to me), and I’ve been driving it ever since.  It’s made a number of cross country trips, and I drove it fairly hard.  I have no idea how many miles it has on it as the odometer broke at 131,776 almost 20 years ago.

But now, at 29 years of age, the Blue Ox is starting to show a few signs of wear.  The doors are hard to open.  There’s a little body rust.  Rattles and creaks and groans happen all the time.  And things are beginning to break.  For a very long time, I didn’t do the maintenance I should have, other than changing the oil, and I think it’s catching up to me.

Over the last few days, the engine has been running a bit rough.  Last night I drove from Monroe to Mukilteo for a meeting, and then drove back to Monroe, with the engine making its now customary deep rumble.  As I started to drive home, the engine began to hesitate, as if it wasn’t getting enough fuel, and it started to run a little louder.  I managed to get home without killing the engine, though it was close a couple of times.  This is the third time in two months I’ve had to do repairs, and I’m beginning to be a bit frustrated.  The car is impacting my ability to train, since when it doesn’t work, I can’t get my boat to any water.

So, what do I do?  I don’t really like the idea of buying a new car.  The Volvo still gets over 20 mpg on highway (when running well), even with a boat on the roof.  And repairs are cheap compared to a car payment. And the amount of energy it takes to build a new car would more than offset a modest increase in gas milage (unless I kept the new car for 30 more years).  A used car would be the way to go, but I don’t quite have the cash to pay for a decent car outright.  I suppose that means I’ll continue making repairs for a while longer.  I always said I’d drive the Volvo ’til the engine fell out.  That might not be too far off now.  I’m off to try and puzzle out my fuel problem…

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