Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Questmobile, Meet the Quest Machine!

So as the Questmobile was laid to rest (a very sad day as I bid farewell to an old friend), I made preparations to get myself another vehicle ... something worthy of one that Quests for 31. My 1997 Ford Explorer actually qualified for the full amount on the "cash for clunkers" credit (a very generous $4500), which is way more than I would ever get for trade-in value. The issue here was that only a new car purchase (I think they should stipulate only a new American car purchase) could qualify for the governement discount. The new car you choose also has to get better gas milage than the old. If I wanted a truck (and I did) this meant that I was looking at the new crossover line of vehicles ... the Chevy Equinox, Saturn View, Ford Edge or Ford Escape. They were nice, but they just weren't me. I test drove a couple, but I really didn't like them all that much. As far as cars go, I've always been a used car buyer. I buy my cars outright and therefore have never had to worry about a car payment. For my next car, I wanted something a little nicer, something that I would be able to keep around for about ten years and get the most out of it. These crossovers that the auto companies are putting on the roads these days, just didn't fit the bill.

I finally decided to take a hard look at the Hummer H3 or H31 as I like to call it. Stangely enough the Hummer gets similar gas mileage to the Ford Explorer that took me around the country to the tune of 243,857 miles. The ride is comfortable, it can be loaded up with all the amenities, and it looks bad-ass! The perfect successor to the Questmobile and rightly dubbed the "Quest Machine" but yours truly. I decided I needed to put on my big boy pants and man-up to buy exactly what I wanted ... a Black H3 with leather, chrome package, and a sunroof. But it was going to have to be a used vehicle ... I guess the big boy pants got a little tight when I looked at what this bad boy was going to cost brand new.

Anyway, my search took me to Jim Reihl's Friendly Automotive Group and salesman Rob Randall. I explaned to Rob what I was looking for and within 24 hours, he had located a Hummer H3 with the exact specifications I was wanted and within my budget. It was a thing of beauty. The ideal Quest Machine to take me on the last leg of my four year journey. I really have to say that Rob went above and beyond to make sure I was happy with my purchase. The truck was fully detailed and any missing or defective parts were replaced. I even got a new set of chrome wheels because the original wheels were chipping. If you're looking for a used truck, be sure to look up Rob Randall at Jim Riehl's in Clinton Township, MI he will definitely hook you up.

To Euthanize or not to Euthanize, that is the question

So after a $1200.00 repair bill, I decided that the trip down to Charlotte, NC for my bachelor party would be the perfect lithmus test to see if the repair took. After shelling out a cool G to have the rear axle rebuilt by a place called Ring & Pinion in Mt. Clemens, MI, I took the truck for a test drive and found that the original problem I took it in for (a strange clunk coming from the rear of the vehicle) was still there. I returned to the shop, they gave me the run around, but we settled on having the transfer case rebuilt for an additonal $200.00. I'm not sure about Ring & Pinion, but I don't think I'll be taking another one of my vehicles there. After they rebuilt the transfer case, I pulled it out of the lot and everything appeared OK. No mysteriouos clunk to be heard ... which brings us to the 13-hour Charlotte road trip. Fours hours into the trip, my AC quit ... it was 90-degrees. Midway through the trip the clunk began to return. I was pretty damned furious.

I drove that stupid thing around Charlotte for a week in the blistering heat with no air and the back end clunking around like the rear axle would break off at any minute. It was miserable, but I made up my mind that this would unfortunately be the last road trip for the Questmobile. IF it would make it back to Detroit, it would be unceremoniously replaced as soon as I could find something else. I feel like I wasted a lot of money trying to keep my beloved companion road worthy for the last leg of our journey, but once the air quit, that was the last straw. The Questmobile actually did make it all the way back to Michigan, so I had one last road trip with an old friend, but now I seek a successor.