I drove (in) the van today and didn’t look at the temperature gauge once…

Hopefully this is the end of the van saga, but when one drives a 2001 model of anything, one can never be entirely certain.  We picked up the repaired vehicle this past Saturday, and for the first few times I drove it, I was not convinced that it would survive.  After all, I hadn’t been able to drive it even 5 miles when it broke down the last time.  After all that drama and loss of years off my life, I trusted no part of the van.

But nonetheless, the guys at the shop called and said that all was well.  The final verdict?  A blown head gasket and a cracked header.  In mechanic terms, that oftentimes signals the end of an engine.  In our case, in a van with almost 180k miles contained an engine that probably wasn’t going to be any kinder to us.  Besides, the mechanic told Todd that adding new parts to an old engine sometimes doesn’t work out the way you might thing…or maybe it does work out the way you might think: badly.

I’m not sure why this guy was so helpful to us, but he really bent over backwards (I felt) to get us back up and rolling.  He found a replacement engine at a local place that only had 85k miles on it (a baby! just getting started!) and was willing to replace Ye Olde Cracked Header with a Side of Blown Head Gasket engine for half of what it would normally cost.  Now, lest you worry that this guy was feeding us a line regarding what half price on such a large repair really costs, we’ve been down this road before, and the full price number that he quoted us was almost exactly what another mechanic quoted a few years earlier.  I felt like that was confirmation on a number.  So, bottom line: they offered to replace our engine and all the extra stuff required therein (hoses, bells, whistles…) for half price.  Based on where we found ourselves and the prospect of trying to find another 8 passenger van in our price range quickly, this sounded like the best option. And what an amazing blessing that was for us!

So that’s what we did.  It took them about a week to do the necessary work in addition to actually driving it around and making sure the “engine transplant” was a success.  (Perhaps you’ll remember that Mike the mechanic back in Angola also told Todd that he’d driven the van around after his repair and said it was working…I wonder how that was even possible when I couldn’t make it limp for a measly 3.5 miles past the shop.)  I knew it was true this time: I checked the odometer.

I will admit that although it seems to be working very well now, and I can tell that the engine itself runs more smoothly than Ye Olde…oh, you know the one…I still can’t help but think that at any given moment…POW!  BOOM!  OVERHEAT!  I guess it’s mostly because of my nature, which I constantly have to fight and speak against.

Today, though, Hannah drove it to and from work and I am happy to report that I didn’t even think about the temperature gauge.  That may be because I was too concerned with sitting in the passenger seat with a teenager in the driver’s seat.   Yes.  That tends to trump all other concerns, I am finding.   But that is a story for another blog post, I believe.

And so, the saga comes to a close.  We tried to make it to Grand Rapids, MI, but didn’t make it any further north than Angola, and were snapped from the clutches of being stranded there by my brother and sister-in-law.   All’s well that ends well.

But I’m still watching that temperature gauge…as long as I’m driving.

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