It looks like my car is reaching the end of its days.
I took my car to a good mechanic (J&L in Nyack) to have them figure out why the “check engine” light was on. Actually, I already knew; I’ve got a gadget (Automatic) which tells me why the car’s computer has turned that light on. In my case it was gas vapor (what you get if you don’t close the gas cap tightly enough) and engine knock.
The problem with the engine knock is almost certainly due to the sensor coming loose, which happens in old Subarus. It’s not difficult to fix. It’s the other problem that’s troubling: the gas vapor is due to rotting of the fill line for the gas tank. It’s not dangerous, but it means that every time I fill up the car some gas is leaking out. The mechanic was honest with me, more honest than the dealers I’ve worked with: He didn’t think it was worth putting more money into the car. It has about 190K miles on it. I was hoping to get another 50K, but c’est la vie.
That same gadget reads out the check-engine status can also reset that light, so in theory I could pass inspection when it comes up in June. In practice, the mechanic told me, once Subarus begin to show signs of mechanical rot it’s usually progressive. In this case, he couldn’t promise me that replacing the fill line wouldn’t reveal that the entire gas tank would need replacing.
It’s time to get another car. I already know what I’m looking for: an all-wheel-drive crossover SUV. The AWD on my Subaru Forester has saved my butt a few times; a crossover SUV for both the cargo capacity and the headroom. I’ve done some web shopping, and it looks like my best choices are between a Honda CR-V and another Subaru Forester. I also know that I’ll want the middle trim level in either model. New, or used? I’m not sure yet. My preliminary price checks on these cars show that buying a two-year-old model doesn’t save me much over buying a new car. This means this cars hold their value well, but that doesn’t help me.
Fortunately, I’ve got time. Later this year the 2017 models will be coming out, which means I might get a better deal on a 2016 model, or a 2015 model if I buy used. Still… drat. I’d hoped to wait another year or two before dealing with another strain on my finances.