February 05, 2010

Coolness Factor

Last Sunday I had a (!) light go off on the dash of the Jeep. "OMG", I thought, "I haven't even gotten the window fixed yet." After a bit of investigation, I found that the (!) means that tire pressure is low. Didn't know which tire, but one was low.

Since it was in negative numbers temperature wise, that was understandable. I didn't put any air in, figuring that once the temps warmed up, it would be fine. Well, that didn't happen, so I stopped on Tuesday and put in air. The left front tire was at about 32 psi (supposed to be 35) and the rest were just under 35. Once I got the tires aired up, the (!) went out.

Kind of cool to get a heads up like that - especially since it can affect gas mileage and, with all the miles I put on, I need all the advantages I can get.

Posted by Bogie on February 5, 2010 at 05:11 PM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (8)

Snowy Office Jeep Tax?

At 2,250 miles on the Jeep, the back passenger window is now at my command.

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Once again all the snow is to the south of us. Yes, we still have snow cover, but not enough for sledding. WS and Jimmy will head up north tomorrow in search of better snow mobiling conditions.

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Just downloaded and took a quick peek at MS Office 10 Professional (Beta Version). The first thing I noticed was the addition of a "File" tab that contains all the commands that you would expect (print, save, save as etc.). I like that addition as it is hard to explain the steps to printing if the first thing to click is the "picture". I have continued to call the "picture" "file", but that just confuses users that have never used a previous version!

* * * * * * *

The downloading of the beta version of Office 10 Professional also gives me a copy of Access. I haven't seen a version of Access later than 2003 so this will be a big change for me. However, I like a challenge and it ought to be interesting at the least.

* * * * * * *

I've been going thru the seed catalogs in the last week or so. I've got it narrowed down to only "needing" 95 packets of seeds spread amongst 4 companies. I'll have to go back thru the list and narrow them down.

* * * * * * *

One thing that makes my seed list long is that this year I plan to get more into the "greens". Greens includes everything from lettuce to brocoli/cauliflower; from mizuna to mesclun. Since I've not grown these things in the past, I don't have any lefto overs in stock. Also, last year I used up all my stock of tomatoes and peppers and didn't buy any other seeds.

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Got the taxes done and submitted last night. For those that are jealous, don't be. That just means our taxes are so simple, and deductions nil, so that it's almost a waste to buy basic tax preparation software. Also means we pay maximum taxes (in something like the 98th percentile for our wage group). We did get a $90 residential energy credit for putting in two new doors (the front door and the basement door), so I guess that's something anyway.

* * * * * * *

It was a bit disheartening to see that we made 10% less this year than last. I took a 10% paycut, but that should have translated to 5% loss overall. I forgot that when WS took his present position, although he got a "raise" he lost overtime, so he actually took a pay cut too. No wonder it seemed a bit of a struggle this year. Of course, we are so much better off than those that no longer have a job, so can't really complain!

* * * * * * *

Don't know if I'll posst any more this weekend. If not, have a great weekend. If I do post more, have a great weekend anyway!

Posted by Bogie on February 5, 2010 at 04:58 PM in At Home, Beta Test, Vehicles, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

January 26, 2010

Jeep Report

Speaking of the Jeep (see previous entry), I have 1,600 miles (+/- 12 miles) on it. For those keeping score, I bought it on 12/29, didn't work the first 6 days I had it, and only had a 3 day work week last week,

I'm liking the Patriot. So far the AWD and 4Wd have worked out just fine for me. Admittedly we have only gotten good snowfalls on days that I haven't had to go to work, so a real test has not occurred. However, one day I passed 3 4WD vehicles when there was a couple of inches of snow on the road - so I'm happy at this point.

The CD player works flawlessly - even though they are all CDs that the Xterra couldn't seem to get thru. The lighted cup holders are cool and the heater works great (as do the heated mirrors). The suspension has done well over the frost heaves that have been appearing and the gas mileage has been very nice (24-27 MPG). The handling is good and it sticks to the road well (even on steep curve highway on-ramps). The forward windshield is nice as it doesn't fog up just by my breathing or coughing as other vehicles have tended to do.

Once I am able to control the window from the driver's console, things will be even better. Note that it is my fault that the window hasn't been fixed yet - I have an appointment on 2/5, my first day off that I didn't have several appointments already, so the fix is in the works.

Of course there are things I would change if I were to design the vehicle;

  • The vents are either on or off - there is no setting that allows the air to flow naturally.
  • The speedometer is on the left side of the dash (the tach is on the right) - since I don't pay attention to the tach (I learned on a vehicle that didn't have one), this is confusing to me. Additionally, being a standard transmission, I drive mainly with my left hand so the speedometer hides behind my hand/arm.
  • The outside air temp is not a glance away - it is several clicks of the odometer away.
  • The steering column is surrounded by a huge collar (for lack of a more appropriate word). I bang my knees on it at times - although not on a regular basis.
  • It would be really nice to have a auto-dim rearview mirror. With the forward windshield, the mirror is about 8" away from an outreached hand. That means I have to really lean forward to reach it and when one is on bumpy roads (such as the frost-heaved roads around here), the seatbelt doesn't allow you to lean forward far enough to reach the darn thing.

Okay, I have to admit, I always find it easy to find things to bitch about so must tell you that despite the percieved issues, I am very happy with the vehicle so far.

Posted by Bogie on January 26, 2010 at 07:15 PM in Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 05, 2010

Not Looking Promising

At 263 miles, I already have to take the Jeep back for repairs; I can only control 3 of the 4 windows from the driver's console. Yes, I know that it isn't a big issue in the scheme of things, but electronic problems have a way of growing and I just sort of expect that in a new vehicle, everything will work.

Posted by Bogie on January 5, 2010 at 04:03 AM in Cursed, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (3)

January 01, 2010

Bogie's New Vehicle

Sunday, after getting back from the fruitless dickering at Nissan, I spent a lot of time online figuring out which vehicles might fill my needs. My requirements were, I thought, modest; it must hold 4 passengers comfortably (doesn't happen often, but sometimes we take others with us and we can't cram into WS's xtra cab), folding rear seats for taking the dogs to the vet, 4WD, standard transmission and All Terrain tires.

I thought about a Tacoma (of which WS has one), but to get a true 4 passenger capability I would have to get the double cab - which is out of my price range. Same for other makes and models.

So, I decided to re-look at what I had looked at hardest during cash for clunkers - a Jeep Patriot. There are two issues with those - finding a standard transmission can be a hassle, and it isn't true 4WD. The Patriot is All Wheel Drive, that can be forced into 4WD mode - but it has no 4Low (a crawler gearing for super sloppy conditions). Technically, I could get the off-road package and get a true 4WD, but that adds to the cost and puts it out of range for me.

After performing an internet search of inventories, I found a dealer in Keene that had 5 standard transmission Patriots - pretty good considering during CforC, there was only 1 in the state, and on Monday, the only ones in the state were at the one dealership.. As for the AWD-4WD, I figured I could get by with the set up presented. Fortunately (or unfortunately), the my pet-sitting customers that live in the real boonies have re-homed their horses, so I no longer have to get there. Also, I no longer work in a job that I have to get to work at a certain time, so if conditions are really bad, I can leave later (after the roads have been plowed).

So, I contacted the dealer in Keene by email, I set up a test drive for Tuesday late morning, stating out my needs to the salesman. He had a problem with my need for AT tires, since they don't come standard. But I pointed out that he had a Patriot enroute (on the truck) that had the tire package that I wanted. Since I had enquired about a specific vehicle in his inventory, I could understand why he didn't look this up. Obviously, this dealer had a very good website since I was able to determine what was in inventory and what was still to come!

Tuesday, I left at 9:30, for my test drive. The vehicle was a bit smaller than my Xterra; not as wide or as tall, but probably the same length. Additionally, the Patriot sits lower, so the ground clearance isn't the same. However, to make up for this, the MPG is 23-28. I've been getting 18.5 with the NIssan, and with all the miles I travel per year, the MPGs were attractive.

The salesman was great, explained everything that I wanted to know, never any pressure and didn't ask when WS was going to look at the vehicle (God, I hate when they do that!). I asked them to appraise the Xterra for trade-in value, and they came back with a number that I liked. With the cash back from Jeep, the numbers looked good, so I spent most of the afternoon in paperwork.

At 3:45 Tuesday afternoon this was sitting in our driveway:

 Jeep Front
Jeep Side
Jeep Back distort-sm

Yes, I know, once again I've managed to get a really ugly vehicle (but, for a change, the ugliest part is the front end - not the back end). Hey, but all jeeps are ugly (except the Wrangler), so what do you want?

I haven't gotten to drive it in snow yet, but since it is supposed to snow most of the weekend, that is coming soon. I have put on about 150 miles and really like the zippy 4 cylinder engine, the clutch is quite smooth (and, it has a hill holder - quite a nice feature that I just found out about yesterday) and the heater is quite effective.

WS hasn't seen the inside yet, and has only seen the outside in the dark or under a blanket of snow. Not that it matters, he won't be driving this anyway.

I hope this one serves me better and longer than the Xterra did!

Posted by Bogie on January 1, 2010 at 07:25 AM in Life in General, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (3)

December 30, 2009

More Nissan Xterra Junkage

I have been considering getting a new vehicle for a while. Cash for Clunkers came and I looked at several vehicles, but under the clunkers program, my trade was only worth $3,500. There were two reasons this made me mad: I thought my truck was worth a bit more than that, but nobody wanted to talk trade; and, I believed I should have gotten the higher $4,500 amount in the CforC deal.

In Cash for Clunkers, if you turned in a truck and got another truck that got 2 mpg better, you got $4500. My SUV (which was rated at 16 mpg) was termed a passenger vehicle so I had to get 10 mpg better with the new vehicle. The vehicle I was looking at hardest "only" got 8 mpg better - so, my truck passenger vehicle was not worth as much to the government (never mind that I drive about 25,000 miles per year - which would result in a massive reduction in gas usage - one of the "goals" of the program).

Since then, I've been thinking about getting a lot of the problems that the NIssan had taken care of. In fact, I had an appointment to replace the timing belt (supposed to be replaced at 105,000 miles - I stretched it to 120,000). This is not small money, so to do so meant I was making a commitment to keep the truck for a while to come.

Last Thursday I went to Walmart in Concord. When I came out, I jumped in the truck passenger vehicle and turned the key.

NOTHING

Okay, I had lights, but the starter didn't even make that annoying whirring sound that comes about when a battery is low on charge. Well, that makes sense because if you recall from the previous post - I had to replace the battery last year.

I called WS, who works in Concord, and he came to take a look at it. He cleaned terminals and checked connections, but nothing helped. Finally, he pounded on the startedr, and we could at least get it to "click" when I turned the key. That was something and gave us hope that we could get it started and not have to have it towed.

WS went back to work to get a tow chain, then came and towed me around the parking lot until I could get it started (the massively good thing about standard transmissions is that if you can get the vehicle to roll, you can probably get it to start).

I got the truck passenger vehicle to Hillsboro VIP where I proceeded to learn that they didn't stock that starter and couldn't get one that day. I left it there in hopes that they would be able to find one on Saturday. As our luck would have it, nope, they couldn't find one, so they got the truck passenger vehicle started and I drove it home. I called the Nissan dealer and found out that a starter cost $450 - whew, they have gotten expensive!

Sunday, I took it to the Nissan dealer (where it had its Monday appointment for the timing belt) and told the saleskid there that I was looking at getting a new vehicle. I also said that my truck needed a starter and I had an appointment for it on Monday but if I had to pay for the starter, I wouldn't be getting a new vehicle from them. I drove another Xterra, that was really bare-bones (my Xterra wasn't anything fancy, but it had a couple of map lights). We could not come to terms on price, nor would they give me more than $3500 for my vehicle. I had thought that I could probably get the best trade in at Nissan, but apparently they know what pieces of crap they are and don't want them back!

So, Monday I called the service department and told them to diagnose the starting problem, but to forget the timing belt. They called back later with the news that it was the starter (duh), which I told them to fix. He then started to tell me that they had "found" a couple of other items, to which I interupted that I wasn't going to be fixing anything else.

When I picked up the vehicle later that day, they gave me a 3 page (front and back) description of problems they had found and the cost to correct them. They came up with $5,800 worth of stuff (the sad part is, the list pretty much mirrored everything I already knew was wrong). The best part was that they didn't even mention the airbag sensor or the check engine light. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned that I started having trouble with the 4 WD a couple of weeks ago. It's not evident until switching between 2WD and 4WD, so they wouldn't have known to include that (so between those 3 things, the total would have been at least $1200 more).

After reading thru the dissertation from the dealer, I came away with something that really Pissed me off - remember the air conditioning problem (last post)? Somehow without any testing or dye in the lines, they came up with an exact diagnoses of the problem - with just a very basic diagnostic equipment; there is a leak in the high pressure hose and FOUND CONDENSER ROTTED (in caps because that is how they presented it). I would think that that is pretty much a visual item - that they should have been able to figure that out last summer. But nooooo, they wanted $110 to charge the system with dye, then have me come back later.

That reminded me that every time I took the truck passenger vehicle in for service in 2008, I was told I needed brakes. In December, the dealer sent out a book of coupons, one of which was for brake work. I made an appointment specifically to have the brakes done, and they said that the brakes were fine. They refused to do the work, but were happy to charge me $90 to "diagnose" that I didn't need brakes. It didn't even phase them that I had previous paperwork that said I needed brakes.

Anyway, Never Ever will I do business with Team Nissan of Manchester NH again!

So, I have established that my Nissan Xterra is a piece of crap (in the previous post) and, I have established that Team Nissan is a Shifty Dealer!

So in essence, I have extablished that getting that Xterra at Team Nissan, was the biggest mistake I have ever made (vehicle wise).

Posted by Bogie on December 30, 2009 at 09:31 AM in Cursed, Life in General, This Or That, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nissan Xterra is Junk

I wrote this late last summer, but never published it. Now I am doing so in order for the next posts to make sense to my readers.

So, the time has come to let people know what a load of crap vehicle, a 2004 Nissan Xterra, I bought 5 years ago. It was new when I bought it and I expected to have a lot of relatively trouble-free years ahead. That has not been the case.

The back windshield wiper arm has been replaced a couple of times – along with washer fluid motor once.

The CD player has never worked correctly. Unfortunately it is an intermittent problem that they say couldn’t be duplicated (or the CD were bad – despite being new, or any other excuse besides the CD player sucked)

The driver’s side window rolls up and down extremely slowly during cold weather (the other windows are fine). In fact, when zero or below, I atually have to pull it up to help the motor out but technically it works, so they won’t cover that (been that way for 4.5 years – since the 1st winter).

The back door had to be totally sanded down and repainted, after only 38,000 miles and 1.5 years (I had to get the area rep to agree to cover the work because it was past the 36k mark). That second paint job, fortunately, was quite good and I have had not problems with it since.

The power steering lines went after 80,000 miles (I top off the reservoir every 4-5 weeks – I’m not spending 700-800 that they want for parts and labor). The lines are considered a wear item, so not covered under any warranty

It had a spell of blowing headlights, until they fixed that (have no idea what was done – they claim nothing was done)

After 3 years, my back bumper was very rust riddled (no, no dents or dings) – it still is, but they won’t fix that. I've never had a new vehicle start rusting away like this.

After 4 years, I had to replace the battery (never have I replaced a battery in that short a time). Technically this is a wear item, but I firgured it should be good for at least 5 years.

After 4 years, the air conditioner had to be repaired (not under warranty) The gas tank, or a sensor in the gas tank, went at 98,000 – fortunately before my extended warrantee ran out. Nissan did replace that.

The airbag sensor went out at 102,000 (4.5 years) – right after the extended warrantee ran out. This is the exact sensor that has been placed on recall for other years, but not mine. The area rep decided that even thought the vehicle was only 4.5 years old (at the time), and the other recalled vehicle years are having their warrantee extended by 10 years, mine is not to be covered.

After 5 years, the air conditioner once again does not work at all (remember that repair I paid for after 4 years?). They wanted to charge me $110 to recharge it and put in some dye, then when it quit working again, bring it in and they would be able to see where it is leaking at – no deal, I don’t need it that bad.

After 5 years, another sensor (check engine light) is indicating that something else has gone out to lunch.

If not for the extended warrantee, I would have put out a several thousand dollars just to repair the stuff they covered (or were bullied into covering) – all while still making payments on it. It would cost a couple more thousand to take care of the bumper and power steering (not to mention the sensors and such) - oh, and the back wiper is junk again (doesn’t touch the glass).

There are only a couple of good things I can say about the vehicle: it has started every time (I had the battery replaced before it completely died); it has gotten me to and from every time; and the brakes lasted a long time (they need replaced now). The brake thing is probably more a testament to the fact that I rarely use them than anything (in the 40 miles to work, I have 6 stops).

I should have bought anything but this Nissan, even when I have bought used vehicles, I haven’t had as much (or as expensive) stuff go wrong. It is pretty sad that a vehicle that was supposed to last for 10 years, will probably have to be replaced before WS’s Toyota – one that is 4 years older than this heap of crap.

Posted by Bogie on December 30, 2009 at 08:35 AM in Cursed, Life in General, Vehicles | Permalink | Comments (0)