When to bring in an outside death Panel for a car

Posted By on September 23, 2010

toyota-rav4-1998 There comes a time when many of us are faced with the decision of whether to pull the plug on one’s … [pause] CAR. (admit it, you were thinking ‘spouse’)

Brenda and I have been struggling over this issue for some time now and have nursed a beloved first generation 1998 Toyota Rav4 for over 220,000 miles. I recently replace the brakes and rotors, but besides the normal rattles, shakes and questionable ride comfort associated with our well used diminutive SUV, this has been a solid and dependable vehicle. Unfortunately in recent months (years really) ours has been leaking oil at the rate of about one quart every 2 weeks with little sign of stopping, unless I quit adding oil. We no longer carry a spare quart of oil in the back of the car, but a spare 5 quart jug! Its to the point that cardboard needs to be put under the vehicle no matter where one parks … and the dripping of oil onto the hot exhaust manifold has had more than one bystander ponder getting a fire extinguisher. Don’t tell Al Gore, but I think Brenda parks over a storm drain at work so there isn’t a noticeable oil leak on the parking lot.

So last week after degreasing the mess under the hood, we had a trusted mechanic, Mr. Godwrench, look at the leak. Brenda and I picked a “go, no-go” number to make the decision easier prior to receiving the repair quote. After sharpening his pencil, Tim Ellison said he could replace the suspected seals for $640 … about $150 under our predetermined limit. After disassembly the number proved to be low as there were additional issues including a waterpump drip. Faced with the waterpump replacement and the fact that a timing belt was also overdue, we decided the time to do this was when it was apart. Great [sarcasm] … we’re now at $1000.

bunchofoilFinally earlier this week, the little beast was reassembled and low and behold … we still had an oil leak, but this time coming from the top. After disassembly, the camshaft had a groove worn into it and another new camshaft seal would not stop the leak. One again, more parts, a few more days and a couple hundred more dollars.

Final bill: $1194.95. We should have brought in an outside “death panel.”


Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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