Hello Sajeev and Steve,
First time writer, long time reader; I must say, TTAC and Piston Slap rocks.
My wife and I are in a bit of a quandary. We currently own outright a 1997 Chevy Monte Carlo 3.1L LS with 197k miles and counting as well as a 2003 Chevy S-10 Blazer LS with 145k on the clock. Lately, we have been sinking money into the Blazer for everything from brakes, to shift solenoids, thermostat, intake manifold gasket and crankshaft position sensor (soon to be O2 sensor). I have been driving the Monte since senior year in high school (2004) and it has also had its share of problems, namely Dex-Cool and the ensuing broken conn-rod. The engine was replaced with a rebuilt Jasper at 117k. The dash is lit up like a Christmas tree, but I change the oil religiously and watch the other liquids and wear parts.
Our dilemma is such; the Blazer does not get good mileage but we have it for my wife. She grew up in Jersey and the 4×4 is nice for these upstate NY winters. We snowboard so we routinely travel a couple of hours round trip in bad weather; we also make an annual pilgrimage to VT for the slopes. Her family is still in NJ and mine is north of Niagara Falls NY. We travel to each frequently; the Blazer has its needs. The Monte is a great car, still strong, so comfortable, so smooth, so quiet, much better mileage; especially compared to the Blazer. It even handles the snow well; FWD with good tires is all any upstate New Yorker needs. Alas, it is tiring and it is only a matter of time before the transmission goes or some other catastrophic failure.
I live close enough to work to get there in a 25 minute walk; for the summer, I have my motorcycle. Since my wife’s current commute is longer than mine, I would love for my wife to have a good, reliable vehicle which is good on gas; she grew up driving a 1996 BMW M3 sedan around suburban NJ so she would love a manual with similar handling.
Do we drive the Monte until she goes onto greener pastures? Do I inherit the Blazer when this happens and get her something newer and better? Do we sell the Blazer now and cut our losses? Do we sell both and downsize to one vehicle?
Is there anything you, Steve and the B&B would recommend for our situation? I appreciate the help…
I would not downsize only because you don’t know what the future holds.
What I would do is cut down on your insurance so that your rates are more affordable. A lot of insurance companies provide discounts for limited driving. Some offer it at less than 5,000 miles a year. Others offer it for less than 2,500 miles a year.
I would drive both vehicles until they croak. The key to making GM vehicles last is taking care of their fluids and making sure you keep up with replacing the Dex-cool in particular. Some would say that I may be excessive recommending annual changes for the Dex-cool. But my experience has been that by doing so, your vehicle will last much longer.
Buy a Mityvac. Suck out the old stuff. Put in the new stuff… and repeat once a year. That may seem extreme to a lot of folks here. But its cheap insurance and that should help you guys lower your operating costs to the bare minimum.
Even though my man Lang is, like, 100 billion percent right, agreeing with him is like shooting fish in a barrel. And I can hear TTAC’s own Zackman saying, “W bodies are perfect for your needs, keep on driving the Monte Carlo and get another one…don’t listen to Sajeev because he’ll ruin your life with Panther Love!” And they both give valid points, even if I completely made up that last part. But they are both wrong.
Sell both hoopties and get something smaller. Maybe that E36 M3 you spoke of. Sure, the fuel economy is pretty bad and the maintenance to keep it running will crush your manhood, but I will not agree with Steve Lang this time. No sir, not at all! You could embrace Panther Love and go from downsizing to “awesome sizing” your next ride, but then again, there’s no stick shift option. And that powertrain conversion isn’t for everyone. So what’s a reliable car that’s affordable and comes with a stick?
BAM SON: a Toyota Corolla in XRS trim level. Sure it’s ugly and/or boring with a lousy interior, but the XRS has a meaty engine, real brakes and a stick! Plus, it’s probably just as reliable as any other Corolla, with resale value that makes selling it a breeze.
Who could ask for anything more?
Not me and certainly not you.