July 31, 2017

Yes I Did It Again

There were only a few readers that caught on that there might have been a recent car transaction. Then, some more asking questions by making comments on the blog or emailing me. I decided it was time to explain.

This is not to make fun of any kind of addicts because addiction is a serious and terrible thing ... but I do see myself standing in a room with a bunch of strangers, raising my hand and stating ... "Hi my name is Steve and I am a car addict". For you long time readers there are no surprises here in this post but possibly a lot of laughter from the location you sit.

New readers, yes ... I have bought and traded a lot of cars, trucks, an RV, during the life of this blog in the last 6 years. I can't say I'm an addict really, it just took me this long to finally decide what two cars I like and the two cars I plan on keeping a long time.

Yes I justified everything back in late October when I explained here, the reasons I unexpectedly traded my Voodoo Blue 2007 FJ. I never planned to. Out of everything I said to justify it it basically boiled down to me not wanting to put $3,000 into a almost 10 year old vehicle that had close to a 150,000 miles, to replace the bad catalytic converters. That was the quote from a Toyota dealership where I made the trade.

I knew that day I drove off the Toyota lot with another 2007 Black Cherry FJ that I had made a mistake. It didn't ride the same, didn't feel the same and even within those first few miles I knew I would not keep it. I tried for the next month and a half to talk myself into agreeing it was a good decision.

By the time I returned home after the 75 mile drive I was out of shock and realized I should have kept the Voodoo Blue one with the needed repairs ... I could have looked locally for a repair shop that could give me a better price for making the repairs. Yet, when that Toyota service rep handed me the computerized estimate, I went into deep shell shock' that influenced my bad ... bad ... decision.

Besides the hail damage I did not see on top of the Black Cherry FJ when I inspected it before I bought it, it had a fairly good gouge in one of the hard plastic fenders. Normal wear and tear in different parts ... but those kind of scratches and dents bug the crap out of me. Like I said before, it just didn't ride like my other FJ. Plus the more I looked at it the less I liked the color. This was Black Cherry and the one I confused it with was the model they offer in Red Brick.

Maybe it was the weather turning cold in early December that made my brains cells go into overdrive on a brand new idea. I explained my thought process back then with a blog post, that you can read here if interested. I never drive my Z4 in cold or bad weather. It's a 'good weather' car where I can put the top down. So the month of December is a time I sometimes think of selling it more than driving it.

I had another brain failure when I decided I was pretty sure that I'd list the Z4 for sale on the Z4 forum, and Craig's List but not expecting it to sell until spring. At that time I'd park it down by the mailbox so those in heavy daily highway traffic could see it was for sale. I've never had a car last more than two weeks when I park them by the highway with a for sale sign on them.

That is when I came up with the idea of 'one car', 'one insurance policy', 'only one to maintain' blah blah blah ... the Mini Cooper Countryman S All4 would give me a small SUV and a Sports Car Mode. This thing would haul ass down the freeway at 85 and 90mph. There were only three problems with the car and none of them were maintenance issues ... it was a great car.

Those were:
  1. I drove it more as a sports car because of how it drove ... I couldn't keep my foot from being buried into the accelerator almost every time I drove it. Luckily I never got a ticket.
  2. Sadie and Stella were always looking to ride. This missed those rides in the FJ ... problem was they were a little cramped to ride at the same time. There's Stella checking for a way inside.
  3. I have pretty much decided on a trailer I am going to buy and would feel much better towing it with an FJ and not the Mini Cooper S Countryman.
I had enough doubt about trading for the Mini Cooper. After I sat with the salesman for most of the afternoon, I changed my mind and drove home with my FJ. By the time I traveled the 12 miles home he called me wanting me to come back and make the trade. He sweetened his offer a little bit for it to happen.

Add in the other factor, that EVERY time I take this 14 yr old jewel out on the highway I hear myself saying "there is NO WAY I am ever trading or selling this car" !!!! It runs like it's new and has a little over 62,000 miles. My spreadsheet tells me I drive it 1,500 - 1,700 per year.

Once I was sure that I was keeping the Z4, then there was no need to have TWO cars giving me that sports car feel, I knew I'd be trading the Mini Cooper S in for an FJ. After all ... the Toyota FJ was THE BEST car I've ever had and I have had a ton of them over the past 17 years for some reason.

Then a few months ago I started sorting out in my head, old options I had analyzed and blogged about on this blog years ago ... what to travel in, RV or trailer, or what to tow, etc. Out of all the options I looked at, I have always come back to the FJ towing either a small trailer or a converted cargo trailer.

How I missed seeing this trailer last year is beyond me but once I found it I had to research it. It's my new plan but not until my hounds pass on. I've explained in previous posts that I find it too hard to travel with three hounds and only two hands. Plus now I have not one but two big strong bloodhounds so that is beyond what you can imagine, trying to travel with.

From reading on the Mini Countryman forums, there were those towing boats, small trailers with the Mini but I just didn't feel comfortably putting stress on a transmission of that car towing something even as small as this trailer. Plus .... I needed more room inside.

So here is what I am planning to buy for traveling and to use the FJ as the tow vehicle. Taxa Trailers in Houston Texas. These photos are from their website, not mine nor someone's personal pictures.

But really this isn't a new thought that just happened this summer. From that day back in October I bookmarked the site at Car.com, showing me all the 2007 FJ's for sale within 100 miles of my zip code. I would check that site every night if not multiple times every day. I knew I needed the same options as the Voodoo Blue had. I knew I'd eventually find one on my terms.

I even tried to buy my old Blue one back in early January. Their price had dropped below what they gave me as a trade in. Everything had been fixed and it looked good as new on their sales lot. It might have been anger, or they just wanted to play games with me ... or maybe they thought I was an idiot just passing through ... but they didn't want to sell it to me.

They gave me an extremely low offer for the Mini Cooper as a trade in. Then when I thought I had a deal almost done the 3rd week of January, they told me a price over the phone that was $2,000 higher than I was looking at online. I decided then the games were over and I'd find something.

I mentioned once in a blog post recently that I had expanded my FJ search out 250 miles from my zip code, then 500 ... "Only to Look" if I remember correctly. I was really looking for one that had the same options as I had before. There were not many of them even in a 500 mile radius. Plus I only wanted one in Voodoo Blue or Silver. I finally located one 106 miles away but it didn't have a roof rack, so I passed on it a month or so ago. It had everything else I wanted though.

Mileage wasn't a big thing for me. I bought my last one with 130,000 miles on it. I've seen these have over 200,000 and still going strong. It was also good to see on the Carfax it had only one owner. The father gave this FJ to his daughter for college when he was finished with it, so it was never driven off paved roads, most likely had never been rock climbing and the pictures showed very little wear and tear.

It might seem trivial but I wanted  this model of radio, not the black one that many of the 2007's have.

These 5 buttons showed me quickly I had a lot of the same features my old one had. We were off to a good start as I scrolled through the pictures. Again, no scruffs or scratches in the normal places.

It looked so clean and not scuffed up in back that I had to download this photo to my computer so I could enlarge it for a closer look. It looked even better in person. No normal wear and tear in the back. Yes it had the large sub woofer, not a deal breaker but just like my other FJ.

New floor mats throughout ... no scratches or gouges on the back door. I also didn't see any signs of rust around those 5 screws above, my old one had rust on them.

It looked brand new inside on their sales ad and also in person ... I don't know if the backseats have ever been used.

I knew since I bought this one at a Toyota Dealership that it had gone through their service department where any repairs or upgrades were done before it was put on the lot for sale.

Seeing these same wheels heavily chipped and worn on the Black Cherry FJ, I read on the FJ forums it was common for that to happen on their stock wheels. These wheels are brand new.

The sales rep told me on the phone that he had the rock rails taken off, sanded and painted. He also had his shop repaint these silver parts of the bumpers. That is a black fly in the picture, not a chip.

I did not find any wear and tear on the body itself. All of the plastic bumpers and fender guards are in perfect condition. The only dent I found was a small round one above the driver side door handle. It did not have two options my other FJ's had, the tow package and a roof rack. It did have the extra skid plates.

Instead they had added a Reece Tow package to the car, rated for 5,000 pounds, same as the FJ. Using the roof rack on my other one in June 2015, I decided then that I might like a rack by Baja much better. It is more rectangular and still uses the same factory mounts. If not I can have or I can install a factory roof rack.

The girl from college added her own touch to the FJ by adding a spare tire cover with a color that matched the car. That is going up for sale on Craig's List if anyone is interested or knows of someone with a Voodoo Blue FJ that would like one.

I had not been in the driveway more than 5 minutes before Stella was leaving bloodhound drool on the back bumper and near the doors ... her way of looking for a way to get inside and ride. Over the past two weeks of ownership, every time I open the back door to get something out or put something inside the FJ ... Stella gives a quick glance to see if we are going for a ride anywhere. It's been too hot lately to take them anywhere and I'd never stop with them inside the car in this type of weather. Our local drives are always to and from the house with the AC on if it's too hot.

Finally this past Saturday the temps had not reached 80° and there was a strong breeze to keep things cool. I told Sadie "let's go for a ride" and she went nuts. She never barks but she did then and didn't stop. She was in back of the FJ almost before I could get the door completely open.

That is when I found out that Stella's hips are definitely bothering her. She wanted in the back but couldn't jump in the back like she use to do before. She put her front paws on the bumper and I lifted her in.

Heidi took her co-pilot seat up front, windows down and she was ready to ride.

To say the hounds were happy to go for a ride again is an understatement.

So, lesson learned. No matter what comes up with either car, I will keep it and fix it. I was curious to see what the final cost was to me. I hated to look but had to put some numbers down on paper. You guessed it ... Since trading the FJ in October I have spent more than the $3,000 it would have cost me to fix the first FJ.

I never planned on trading that car until it broke. I'll not trade this one. The Toyota FJ is the best vehicle I have own, plus that Z4 that is driven only in good weather. I forgot to mention they gave me more for the trade in value of the Mini Cooper than what I paid for it in December. I also paid $500 less for this FJ with the same miles as my first one I bought in May 2014.

Also you might have noticed I never changed the truck plate when I traded for the Mini. It was allowed to be used on the Mini because BMV classified it as a 'wagon' but I was pretty sure I'd be using that plate again on a different FJ ... a lot of readers probably did also.  LOL

If you read this far you are to be commended. For the first time since I traded for my first FJ in May 2014 I have not had on iota of buyers remorse about this latest car deal. Things feel back to normal with an FJ back in the driveway.

NEVER a dull moment here in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana ... LOL

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