Wanderings – Trebuchet flinging caravans

Owning a vehicle is one of the most infuriating things, at least it is for me.

Living in a rural area, owning a vehicle is essential for getting around. And I love driving on the open road. It is one of my favourite things to do. But when a vehicle breaks down, in the middle of nowhere, words cannot be printed to describe the feelings I had on the side of the road. I am not allowed to put those words into print.

Recently, my vehicle died. Automatic transmissions are not supposed to slip, grind, and make whining noises. Through no fault of my own, as I do maintain my vehicle, the transmission decided it was time to give up on 2021. It started off with an expensive tow to the garage, followed by an even more expensive repair bill. By the time you read this column, my vehicle is mended and back on the road.

To be fair, I have put a lot of kilometres on this vehicle. Trips to soccer games, family vacations, work, and a myriad of other driving  reasons has kept the vehicle busy. This is also the first major repair to this vehicle, and the transmission is a known issue. My vehicle broke down right on schedule. (For automotive-inclined people – Yes I drive a Dodge.)

My wife and I considered buying a replacement vehicle instead of fixing this one. After all, if the transmission has failed, why play roulette to see what is next to go? The transmission replacement was the more sensible option in the end. Four kids won’t fit in a Porsche 911 or a Dodge Challenger. An Aston Martin DB9 or a MGB GT wouldn’t be sensible for the cold climates of Canada.

I’d love to go all-electric and get a Tesla or an Audi e-tron but the extension cord down the highway is a real non-starter to that idea.

I did receive lots of creative suggestions from friends and family on how to scrap the transmission-less vehicle. These ranged from a demolition derby entry – difficult when it already does not move – to a Monty Python-like trebuchet flinging of the 2.75 tonne Dodge. I was leaning towards the trebuchet myself because those are easier to build than strapping a rocket to your vehicle and trying to jump the St. Lawrence River. That was already tried decades ago and while I like challenges, no thanks!

Sinking a lot of money into a seven year old vehicle with high kilometres may not sound like a good investment. Since when does owning a vehicle constitute a good investment? Hence my frustration with vehicles and vehicle repairs.

If you repair or renovate your house, it adds value. Fix the bathroom, upgrade the kitchen, or put new windows in, and your home value increases. Paint the siding and add landscaping you increase the curb appeal, ch-ching. Even changing out a furnace or adding air conditioning will make you more money when you sell your home. Nothing you do to a vehicle will add value to it. Not even adding 12 inch subwoofers. Maybe my neighbours should heed that last note.

Fixing your vehicle only improves your mechanic’s bank balance. It does nothing to improve the value of your vehicle. I can’t go into a dealership and say, “Hey, I have this Dodge with high kilometres, but the transmission is new, so it is worth more right?” I can hear the salesperson laughing as I walk out the door.

Owning a vehicle is a pain in the posterior. It is a love-hate relationship because you need wheels to go anywhere, but it sure kicks you in your bank balance when it goes wrong.

Here’s hoping nothing else fails on my vehicle. I only like to gamble when I know I’ll win.