Sarah, my 1988 Dodge Daytona, was the closest to a "new" car I have ever had. I bought it in 1990 with 13K miles on it. She is no screamer. Built on the K-car frame the daytona handles well and the engine is tough to kill. Absolutely NO real PEP ( She has a small 2.5L 4 cylinder non-superchargered engine), but in her younger years "she looked marvelous." The paint is a problem for this year dodge and Sarah's was no exception. After pricing around, I decided to sand buff her by hand myself and paint her with a can of spray paint from the auto store (matching her color code). She now has around 80 something K miles on her - being retired to only winter everyday driving now. Hopefully she will stick it out a few more years. Her tires are guaranteed for 50K which I figured would get me to 100K miles on the car (about all I expected of it). She was totalled once in a snow storm quite a few years back when some poor soul in a toyota ran a red light, and I smooshed her almost new toyota up like a pancake. Sarah's frame was only bent a couple millimeters so I had her repaired. So she has new things going for her up front - new hood, headlights, bumper, one front quarter. ( I was able to angle her and glance off the toyota at an angle ) She is "black cherry" exterior and interior. Her air conditioning stopped working this last summer. I found this out as I loaned it out to my brother in law in the heat of summer. Doh! Well, one estimate was too costly to fix it, so, I figure I don't need it in a winter car anyways. I had to replace her battery this year before sticking her back into gear for the winter, but besides that she's been pretty good. So the air conditioning ran for 10 years - can't compain. Parts I have replaced on her... Hmmmm I put tighter springs and shocks and struts in her soon after I got it. I hated the crappy stock suspension. So, she takes corners well, but really hits those bumps. I also replaced a front control arm a couple years ago since the boot went bad and was making noise. That was my only real repair for 10 years. Not bad. I just change the oil every 3K and changed the auto tranny fluid once at 50K, and change the coolant every few years. She has to keep going to keep my summer cars pretty. I tell her she may not be the lead, but she's a great supporting actress!
What's new? Well before I could take her off the road, I was rear-ended by a ditzy young girl in her brand new car. She totalled her car and ol' Sarah stood up great. I got about $1500 from her insurance company to fix her, of which I've spent notta since she is not "really" damaged. The plastic brace for the fiberglass bumper cover was bent, so I took it off. This allows the bumper to remain pretty even looking. The actual bumper was not pushed in more than a 1/4 inch at most. I picked up a few bucks of paint and I will touch her black and black cherry paint up a bit before winter. I finally took her off the road and turned in the plates. It was sad seeing the old plates (that gave her the name "Sarah" from the beginning letters SAR- from Saratoga County where we used to live) go to the DMV trash heap. If you look real close at the picture above, you can see a mark on the rear corner passenger side where the paint was rubbed off. Her new Taurus was mangled and leaking coolant. She learned her lesson.
11/99: For the winter, I put in some new coolant, new oil & filter, fuel injector cleaner, painted her hood, roof and rear-end with touch up spray paint, painted the alloy wheels which were starting to show some rust with chrome paint. I put clear coats over the touch up paint and put silicone protectant on top of that. Hopefully this will help keep the paint in one piece so it doesn't fall off and look blotchy anymore. Atleast, it will hopefully last a year. The car officially became a winter car as I cut the belt off of the compressor since it had passed on this past year, and was just starting to make some noise, so I cut the belt off and no more air conditioning. I tried to free the pulley bolts, but to no avail. So everything is still there except the belt. I think she is much peppier now and jumps into her "power band" (if you want to call it that) quicker without the added draw of the compressor belt on the crank, and when I have the defrosters on, it won't be dragging like it used to do with the compressor engauged. Everything seems to be working fine. Her paint, although it is no longer looking like new, it atleast looks like all one color. Oh yeah - I had Firestone rotate the tires (since they are supposed to do it FREE for life - since I bought the tires from them) and wouldn't you know it, they managed to strip ANOTHER stud and bolt! They killed my bolts last time too. Those darned air tools stink. I'm either going to have to do it myself next time, or force them to use a torque wrench.
6/00: I heard a little rattling, and looked under the car and what did I see, but a exhaust heat shield laying on the pipe. So, I did as I've done with other winter cars of the past - just pulled it off. While I was at it, I tuned her up with new oil, quart of slick 50(since it was just laying around anyways-I put it in once at around 50K too), oil filter, air filter, plugs, fuel filter. I ended up driving her longer this year with the bad weather and high gas prices.. all the way until the first day of summer. Now she sleeps, her plate is on the Nova, but she is happy.
Awake again for winter - and the move to the new house - this had her quite busy... She's been great except for the day before thanksgiving when her radiator decided to freeze on me. I don't hold it against her - probably my fault for not taking care of my cars while I was wrapped in my move and fixing up the old house. I bought a new radiator on black friday and she was once again very happy. A little oil dissapears and I bottle feed her some now and then, but at 90+ K I expect that from a standard k-car motor.. probably burning a bit, and probably leaking a bit. Alas, not a big deal for a winter car.
2/2001 - Sarah Sits in the parking lot at work and is backed into with a pickup truck. She held her ground with her front passenger fender gettings some bruises and abraisions, and shifting that fender backwards just enough so that I could not open the door (which I found out at a later - most inoportune time). I used my crowbar on the fender to push it far enough forward to let the door open again. The headlight seems a bit loose, but works fine still, so I'll leave it alone for now - maybe I'll take a closer look when it warms up. The good thing is, it was hit by someone at work with a work truck, so work will have to pay for repairs. My estimate was $970 to repair it all. The insurance company sent a nice guy to appraise the damage who took pics of the whole car, and he ended up "totalling it" once again. This time they said she was valued at around $1600, and took a $100 salvage fee off, giving me around $1500. Whoohoo! I bought two cans of paint, and painted the whole car. She did a heck of a job on the door of that truck! Good ol' Sarah pays for herself again.
6/2001 - Sarah is working overtime this year, since I blew up the motor in the Formula, I've been driving Sarah in the hot weather. I'm having to get used to the old days before air conditioning. Because of the heat, her headliner has fallen down pretty badly and I'll have to try to repair it soon.
10/2001 - Sarah ran over an exposed man hole cover and punctured her oil pan. So she now has a new pan, gasket, plug, oil and filter. I'm sending the bill to my town's attorney.
4/2003 - After having problems with
overheating, she finally blew a head gasket as she neared 100K miles on the
odometer. First I tried changing the thermostat since I noticed the upper hose
was still cold - even when it was overheating. This helped but again she began
over heating, until one day she finally "spouted" and over heated and sent steaming
coolant out the back side of the head... So I replaced the head gasket.
Next, I was jumping the battery on the Nova with Sarah running, when I noticed that fuel was pouring out the passenger side. The salty roads really hit the under side this year, putting rusty holes through the side panels and now, I found a hose clamp rotted out, and the fuel lines are very rusty and one broke. So, I replaced some of the fuel line coming off the fuel filter with some rubber fuel line. This summer, I'll take a better look at the underside and repair some of the rust.
2004-05 Added more rubber line to fuel line. Got hit in parking lot by stupid person backing up so I'm fighting with her insurance company to fix her front left fender and fog light.
2006 - Her gas tank was starting to leak at the seal so I could only fill it half way or it would leak and the frame rails were so rusty they would start to crush as I jacked it, so I decided it was time to retire her from duty. She served me better and longer than any car I have owned. She will be missed :-(
Purchased Honda CR-V to be my new "Winter Car"