Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Quest continues...

The 1st Mate, at my suggestion, purchased a 1999 Nissan Quest minivan about a month ago during one of our trips north to Tucson. We've had really good luck with Nissan cars, even with high mileage.

The motors in these cars have proven their longevity and, although not terribly efficient on gas, we've driven these cars over scorching Sonoran deserts at 80 mph hour after hour, with the air conditioning going full blast and still got 22 mpg. That's in a car loaded down with goodies from Costco, WalMart and Harbor Freight and  two dogs.

This particular car supposedly had an engine overhaul 35,000 miles ago, but there's no paperwork to prove it. It's got 195.000 miles on it and we're not sure when the timing belt was last changed. We have taken it to a garage in Guaymas and had the heater core disconnected. Fumes of coolant inside the car made us do that, and the 1st Mate took the car to Midas and had the brakes checked (rear drum brakes good, front disk brakes got new pads and had the rotors turned).

The 1st Mate was having discouraging thoughts about  the car, so I offered to make the Nissan a partnership vehicle. I have the tools and experience to do most major and minor repairs, and I really need a usable vehicle for my trip south. I'm giving the 1st Mate half of what she has in the car (right now, I'm paying for new tires, lights, windshield) in parts and cash. My labor is free, because it's my car now too. But we still have a long way to go before we catch up to the Blue Book value of the car, so I feel like it's a good deal.

We both want it customized for camping trips , so we've got the same goal for the car. I've already removed the seats from the back (we won't be hauling around 7 people in this thing) and will be working up some plans to tweak the car into a camper. We own an nice 9x13 foot tent that could be the primary accommodation at campsites.

Today I took the car to Guaymas and had two new top-of-the-line front tires installed, and while the wheels were off, I had them knock off the hubs so I could examine the brakes. The brakes checked out fine. I also bought 4 lightbulbs for the instrument panel (in the dark, you can't see the shift indicator for the tranny, so you don't know what gear you're in) and, with the help of folks on the internet, removed and replaced the burned out bulbs. Complicated job, but worth the effort.

Saturday the windshield will be here from the windshield storage/factory. We'll go to Empalme and get an All-Mexico travel sticker for the car. I'll then be free to drive the car to Barra de Navidad, the current dockage for the 33' Morgan sloop, SV BLISS.  I want to leave Tuesday morning.

I hope to take some time from the chores on the boat to replace the timing belt, and I'll be able to do it in a warm, dry climate.

1 comment:

1st Mate said...

It is indeed a sweet set of wheels. My misgivings were over 1) whether it truly has a rebuilt motor, which may be answered when the timing belt comes out, 2) how the previous owner determined that new motor has 35,000 miles on it since the odometer is still set for the previous motor and 3) what shape the tranny and other vital parts are in. It's an act of faith to own that car, but then living in Mexico is also an act of faith, right?