Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Recently, we traded in our 2002 Sable and upgraded to a family hauler, a 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L.  The more I drive this hulking beast of a minivan, the more I grow to love it.

My new commuter car is my wife's old car, a 2000 Lexus ES300 Platinum Edition.  It's essentially a Toyota Camry chassis with some niceties added.  But as the vehicle is nearing its twelfth birthday, it's been (knock on wood) very reliable, without much in the way of problems (knock harder on wood).  We even bought it with nearly 90,000 miles on it and it just passed the 120,000 mile mark.  In that time, if I remember correctly, we've done the following work that goes above & beyond normal wear items:

  • replaced A/C clutch - not even sure this was necessary. I complained about a noise outside the car, a hissing/whining mechanical sound when the air conditioning was turned on, and my mechanic replaced the clutch inside the A/C unit.
  • dash lights - some of the climate control lights are out.  the procedure to take them out isn't as easy as with a Mercedes-Benz, or at least MB's of the past, where one only needed mechanical keys to extract the entire climate control module out of the dash and then could get at the lights easily with simple tools. I haven't done this work, but I figure at twelve years old this is technically a "wear item".
  • Throttle body cleaning - my car would start but not idle, and fool that I am, I tried to crank it with my other car's battery.  Turned out the throttle body was severely gunked up and is now fine...cost less than $200 overall even with an oil change added in when the car went to my mechanic.
  • Mirror hazing - as typical with BMWs and Mercedes and just about any car that has heated exterior mirrors, my Lexus has that "mirror haze" where the seal has been broken and the driver's side mirror is turning brown on the bottom.  It hasn't infected the entire would be nice to get replaced so the heated element works, but that comes at a price of over $400 at the Lexus dealer for the part alone, and no one makes an aftermarket glass that will fit that & allow me to keep use of my heated mirror.  So, I'll find a specialty glass shop & probably pay $100 for them to replace just the glass.
That's about it.  Not bad for 3.5 years & 30K miles of ownership at the higher end of the car's life.

I should add that while a typical front wheel drive Japanese sedan, it does come with heated seats, HomeLink (now that I have a garage, this is nice), side airbags - though not side *head* airbags, power seats, a 6-cd changer, and a tape deck - which I like so I can use my iPod via a tape adapter. Even the armrest storage & glove box seem to be done just right.  And Lexus as a company loves that half-woodgrain steering wheel & nice wood trim, as do I.

The subject heading of this post has more to do with the fact that I recently took out the baby seat recently, and gave it a complete Mothers pampering.  Washed & waxed on the outside, and on the inside I cleaned & conditioned the leather & vinyl, vacuumed and cleaned the upholstery, even used glass cleaner on the windows.  The car felt & looked nearly new on the inside (ok, at the very least, very nicely treated used).

There's nothing like Mothers detailing products & nothing like giving an old car with a couple of rips in the leather and marks on the dash a thorough detailing.  It's easy when using a car like that as a daily commuter to forget how nice the car truly is, but once it's detailed nicely, you remember that a nicely appointed luxury car, no matter how old, is a joy to drive.

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