New Ride

Our vehicle lease was up this month, and we’ve been hard-pressed to find a new one.  We’ve been looking off and on for the past month and a half, and by all rights should have been looking far sooner than that.  With the pandemic, there’s been a meteoric shift in how many new cars are built, what they contain, and how they’re sold.

Considering all that, we were a bit naive about the whole thing, thinking that it was going to be like years past, there would be scads of new cars to choose from and so on.  Going to dealer lots was a real eye opener.  The lots were mostly empty, and what new cars were there were few and far between.  Even looking online one could see that many car dealerships had shifted to a used car mantra, since so few of the new ones were there to be had.

Historically, we don’t have what someone might consider ‘brand loyalty’.  The only car makers that we’ve leased from more than once would be Subaru & Ford (we’ve had 2 Foresters).  In the last 20 years, we’ve leased from Ford, GMC, Nissan, Jeep & Subaru.  Consequently, each time we’re aiming for something new and interesting, so that the next 3 years aren’t ‘more of the same.  Ergo, we were going a bit further afield, though we tend to stay with the same dealership we’ve been leasing from since 2000.   Fortunately, they have a large variety of brands to choose from so that does make it a bit easier, and all the lots communicate with one another, so if we bring back a Nissan to a Hyundai lot, we don’t have to pay to have it transferred back home, no matter the distance.

This year we were looking at Fords, Hyundais, Nissans and Subarus.  It just seemed that these brands had the larger (if such a thing can be claimed) number of vehicles to choose from.  We’ve been leasing SUVs all this time; the only other one we leased was a Ford Ranger in 2000, but that was a bit of a disaster since it was a short box, with a small cab and while it allowed us the freedom to move from one house to another (after we fired the movers) it just wasn’t practical as a ‘family’ vehicle.  Back then ‘King cabs’ existed, but ‘Crew cabs’ weren’t as prevalent as they are now.  And generally if you get a crew cab truck, you tend to end up with a shorter bed.  So and SUV is a better choice for us.

We started out at the Nissan dealership; talked to a salesman about the 2022 Murano, and then test drove a 2022 Rogue.  In 2019 when we leased the Murano we had, we tried out a Rogue and it seemed a bit cramped to both of us.  The Murano was larger inside but not as large as an Armada or Pathfinder, so that fit our needs rather handily.  Too, they had a Platinum (top of the line) model in gunmetal gray (a nice touch) and it had all the bells & whistles you could expect.  It served us well and we really liked it.  So much in fact we were seriously considering buying the car when the lease was done.

The Rogue was nice, but it really didn’t feel quite right to either of us.  My wife had seen a 2022 Bronco on one of the dealer’s websites, and I myself had been liking the Hyundai Santa Fe ever since I rented one to do a long drive to VA in 2017.  Unfortunately the dealership didn’t have any Santa Fe’s (some were in transit, but there wasn’t a hard date on when they would be delivered), so at that time it was a non-issue.

We looked over the Broncos at a different lot, and test drove an ‘Outer Banks’ model.  My initial thought about the Bronco was that it was very compact, but on the inside it wasn’t as small as I was originally fearing.  We went up to a local camping area, swapped out drivers (I tend to do the bulk of our driving, but occasionally my wife does take the wheel, so she needed to be comfortable behind it) and she took it for a spin around a parking lot.  We liked it, but not enough to make a commitment.  Too, the bells & whistles on the vehicle were a little sparse.  The dealer did have one other Bronco, but it was referred to as the ‘Badlands’ model, which was more suited for off-roading (heavier suspension, big knobby tires, larger ground clearance, all the things you would need for spending time up in the woods), not driving to the store for food.  Naturally, IT had the bells and whistles we were looking for.  Like all salespeople so far, this one warned us that we needed to make a decision soon, as he couldn’t hold either vehicle for us, they were on a first come, first served basis.  Understood.

A couple of weeks later, we had contacted Nissan and gotten a 2 month extension on our lease.  The stipulation we had to agree to though was; the option of buying the car outright was no longer on the table, we HAD to turn it in.  No ifs, ands, or buts. At the very least it gave us another month to search and to dither.  We checked the Ford dealership and the Broncos were still there, but something else caught my wife’s eye.  A 2022 BMW 330i sedan that only had 7800 miles on the odometer.  At a reasonable price too.  I wasn’t certain that she was serious; since as I mentioned above we normally only lease SUVs.  She asked me to check the CARFAX on it, and we discovered that it was a short term lease (1 month!) and it came from Ohio.  Whoever leased it apparently wasn’t happy with it, as they returned it to the dealer in Cleveland and the vehicle went to auction about a month later.  For whatever reason, the Ford dealer had purchased it and put it on their lot.

Just for the heck of it, we called the salesperson we had dealt with, asked about the Bronco, and asked if the BMW could be leased.  He was with another customer and said he’d get back to us ASAP.  In the meantime we were going to be heading to another lot to look at a Subaru Outback.  So between the two lots and salespeople we finally determined the BMW was NOT available for lease (one wonders why) and the only Bronco he had left was the Badlands version.  Definitely a non-starter.  I told him that regardless of whether we made out well with the Subaru I’d be calling him at the end of the day to let him know where we stood.

We got to the Subaru dealership and the salesman we were working with (Anthony) had the Outback ready for us and in front of the building.  We chatted a bit, he took my driver’s license to get a copy for our test drive.  Coming back, he had the key fob with him and we took a short drive in it.  I have to say, it hit all the notes for us, even when we were at a 4-way stop and the engine cut out unexpectedly.  Apparently the car has a feature where this happens if you stop for too long, say at a stop sign and the engine would be idling too much.  When you lift your foot from the brake it starts up again.  This feature can be disabled if it becomes too unnerving.  After driving for about 4-5 miles (we hit construction) we decided it was too nice to pass up.

We went back to the dealership and talked about replacing the Murano with this Outback.  It didn’t take too long, the only fly in the ointment was my wife had forgotten to unlock her credit reports, and they were unable to access them.  They were able to extrapolate what her credit number was (suffice it to say, she has a near perfect credit rating, I’ve always been insanely jealous of it) and we signed a base agreement to lease the vehicle.  Since it was a Friday, we weren’t interested in swapping out the cars that day, the Murano needed to be hoed out, things removed, and I wanted to give it a once over with the vacuum as it had been over a year since I’d done it last.  Definitely want to make a good impression, not hand over a sloppy car.  Too, I had a dashcam I needed to remove, my EZPASS stickers and so on.  Monday seemed like the better choice and Anthony was (finally) agreeable to the whole plan.

This past Monday, we met at the dealership in the evening, swapped out the cars and we drove the Outback home.  It’s sitting in the driveway, and it’s ours until 2025.  Hopefully, things will be a little easier when it’s time to choose our next car.

February Chill

Saying it’s cold in February is like saying ‘water is wet‘.   It’s just something that you accept as being factual.  Of course, unless you’re living under a rock currently, you’re aware there’s a major cold snap happening in the southern United States, and people there are learning what it’s like to live in New England, or the Midwest in wintertime.  The language of frozen pipes and using a hairdryer to keep your water pump going is quickly being learned in places where such contraptions were unheard of before.   Just because we’ve increasingly become involved in a more modern world, with advanced devices doesn’t mean Mother Nature can’t throw a spanner into the works.

Up here in the Northeast, we expect every February there’s going to be a day or few days where the temperature is going to get below zero.  It’s expected.  In some ways, if it doesn’t happen, it goes down in the calendar as an unusual year.  I remember when I was working at my previous employer, back in ’95 or ’97 the temperature got down to about -17°F/-22°C.  I think that was about the only time in my recollection I was unable to get my vehicle started due to the cold.  I had to get a jump from the local garage.  Fortunately, I had AAA at the time (still do, even though we only use it every once in a Blue Moon it’s still something good to have) and they got the truck started (at the time I was driving a 1987 Ford Bronco II) and I was on my way home in due time.

Going by what the NWS (National Weather Service) is saying, today’s 3°F/-16°C is probably going to be the low temperature for this area for the winter of 2020-21.  Starting this weekend we’re due for a warming trend, and it will last until the end of the month.  Starting in March, temperatures are going to typically be in the 30s and 40s, and winter will be over completely later that month.  Even Easter is going to be early this year, in the beginning of April.

According to the thermometer, it’s already nearly 20°F/-6.6°C outside, so the cold snap is over.  Supposedly we’re getting another winter type storm tomorrow, but it’s not going to be as much as we ended up not getting yesterday.  At any rate I was able to take my snowblower out for another spin, and I got enough gas to last me for the remainder of the winter, and I can use it for the lawn mower in another couple of months.

I think tonight will only be a 2 blanket night with a comforter.  I might even sleep without my socks.  We’ll see.

Errands

Today was an atypically busy day that got going rather early.  And, typically, since I can never seem to get to bed early when I have things to do the next day, I didn’t go to bed until 12:30 this morning (that’s AM for those of you keeping score).

With the Coronavirus going on, the state where I live has been very kind in letting lapsed car inspections go unnoticed (and unticketed) by the various police agencies.  But since that’s not likely to be a situation that’s going to go on forever, I thought it was time to get the vehicle inspected, and on the right side of the law.  I could have had it done a multitude of places, but figured since it was the first time since we leased it last year, I’d get it done at the same ‘flavor’ of dealer where it was gotten (it’s a Nissan, so it needed in my mind to be inspected at a Nissan dealership).

Too, it’s been over a year since we leased it, and we’ve driven it a little under 6000 miles so it was time for an oil change as well.  In theory, it probably should have gotten it a thousand miles ago, but that was over 90 days ago, and coronavirus so, it got pushed back.  Since it is lubricated by synthetic oil, I figure there wasn’t much (if any) problem with waiting for another 800-900 miles, and as it turned out, there wasn’t any mention made at the dealership about the time frame.

Needless to say, when I called last month to get an appointment, I honestly didn’t think they were going to schedule me two freaking weeks ahead.  And of course (timing) it just so happened to be on the day we were needing to go to the chiropractor.  Fortunately, they had an appointment as soon as they opened the doors (8 am) so that’s what I snapped up, since I was going to have to drive 25 miles to get there.  And I’m rather used to being up that early anyway.  So it all worked out.

Usually with this particular dealer, their service department takes it’s sweet time getting things done.  Even relatively straightforward things like oil changes and state inspections.  But with the current situation, there are fewer people around, and less time for doing other things other than work, so I was in and out in just about 30 minutes.  Certainly a record.  And since their labor cost is an ungodly $135.00/hr, I can’t complain about that either.  I was actually back home in under two hours, even with a stop at my local McDonald’s for breakfast.

Round two was going to the chiropractor, in another county up the road.  The route we take is quite scenic, KLWT-map-2020-wineries-only 6meandering up along the east side of Keuka Lake, one of the New York Fingers.  Seeing as I was antsy about being back home in time to collect the wife to get to our appointment, it just so happened to turn out that we had approximately an hour or so between the time I got back, and the time that we had to be leaving.  It’s about a 40 minute drive there, and as it’s summertime, there’s bound to be some construction of some sort on the roads, so we always leave a bit of leeway in travel time.  As with any doctor, there’s bound to be some waiting time, but the way that we manage things, our wait time is never more than 5-10 minutes.  Which is pretty sweet.  Needless to say, since my birthday had been a little while ago, I was due for what they call a ‘scan’, which is a computerized image of my spine, though non-invasive.  I’ve been having them since I started with this chiropractor and they’re a good tool for him to use over the course of the following year to see how well he’s doing with his adjustments, and how well I am doing with my progress in getting better with his assistance.  It doesn’t hurt that my insurance through my union pays some of the cost of the therapy, so all in all, I’d call it a win-win.  Though I’m not terribly sure what I’m going to do when he retires!

Finally, I had a call from the service that my union utilizes for medical issues, that I have to have every month.  Last month I wasn’t able to have the call, since there was a conflict, so it had been rescheduled for 7 in the evening, which wasn’t terribly convenient, but sometimes you just have to do what you can with what’s available.  Beth has been calling pretty promptly, and we’ve developed a rapport over the past 7-8 months we’ve been talking to one another.  I like her style, in that she seems interested in getting me along with the program, not just reading from the book in front of her; she takes notes and follows along with my progress, asking me pointed questions and not just doing things by rote.  With her assistance I’ve managed to lose about 15 lbs, and I look forward to talking to her in the future, and she’s not judgmental.  She understands that there are peaks and valleys, there’s going to be times when I’m not losing weight, or hitting a plateau or whatever, and she’s ok with that.

All in all, it was a pretty full day.  I managed to get to bed at a decent hour, since I needed to be to work the next morning at 8.