The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

18 June 2006

The great wheel hunt

The old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times," isn't a curse and isn't Chinese, and probably isn't that old either, so I recommend you replace it with the threat of something more specifically horrible, like "May you go shopping for used cars."

I mentioned earlier that I would like to get another 626 from the same general time period, 2000 through 2002, but inasmuch as this was not a particularly popular car, there aren't a lot of them around, and the ones around town are dubious at best. (CARFAX is your friend; I fed them the VINs for three local cars, and each and every one of them had some derogatory information: one of them had actually been wrecked and rebuilt.)

The pickings are somewhat better at CarMax, but they move stuff quickly, and I suspect I may have problems meeting my self-imposed deadline of Tuesday afternoon. The following alternate models are under consideration if all else fails, assuming they can be had for my desired ceiling price or below:

  • Mazda MPV
  • Mazda Protegé5
  • Infiniti I30
  • Lexus ES300
  • Acura 3.2TL

Of those five, I think I'd prefer the Acura. Oddly, Honda Accords of the same vintage don't seem to be appreciably less expensive, even the four-cylinder models.

Curious CarMax fact: Sales personnel receive a fixed commission on each sale regardless of the dollar amount — except in California, where apparently this sort of forced egalitarianism is illegal. (California is also the place where your 60,000-mile timing-belt replacement occurs at 105,000 miles, because the Assembly hath so decreed.)

Addendum, 8 pm: I found the VIN for Molly, my previous 626, traded away in 2000, and on an impulse, fed it to CARFAX. Last item:

Accident Reported in Cowley County [KS]
Vehicle involved in crash with an animal

Now I'm thoroughly spooked.

Posted at 6:43 PM to Driver's Seat


As you have gathered... I am a fast talking, know it all blonde in the ed biz. I can only say that YOU REALLY MUST drive the Lexus ES300 before you settle on anything else... it's gonna change your life! Oh my god... did I write all this? I wonder if Lexus will give me a kick back....

Posted by: Dr. Jan at 7:28 PM on 18 June 2006

Why would I want my life changed?

Oh, right. Never mind. Sorry I brought it up. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:34 PM on 18 June 2006

I wonder how soon Sandy will make the CARFAX list.... or, since it's been totalled, will they even bother?

Posted by: unimpressed at 10:18 PM on 18 June 2006

Once the title changes hands, they'll know about it — and since it's going to be a salvage title, they'll know about that too. I expect the formalities to be either tomorrow or Tuesday.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:24 PM on 18 June 2006

Oddly, Honda Accords of the same vintage don't seem to be appreciably less expensive, even the four-cylinder models.

I've noticed this too. Chris would like to sell off her Rodeo for something that gets better mileage, and she's liked the Hondas that she's had over the years -- but if she gets serious about this she may have to consider a [shudder] Kia.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:44 AM on 19 June 2006

Did I mention that my wife has a gold 1999 Mazda 626? With over 100k miles on it? And on it's third transmission?

And McGheHee, I traded in my Subaru for a Kia last year, and it's not too bad. But I still miss my Ford Ranger.:(

Posted by: Bobbert at 1:08 PM on 19 June 2006

I'm tellin' ya, you gotta check out eBay Motors. Here's one, in your general neck of the woods, with the general specs you want, going south in about 6 hours, just over $4K right now.....

(eBay link)

Posted by: Kirk Leggott at 1:08 PM on 19 June 2006

Aside from the people who actually work on them, I believe the one person who knows the most about 626 transmissions is, um, me. One of the reasons I wanted a 2000 or later is because it was the middle of the 1999 model year when they finished revisions to the original design, which was, shall we say, not ready for prime time.

And besides, a 626 with a proven track record (such as, well, mine) is hard to come by these days, which is why I listed some alternative cars, one of which I actually bought.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:20 PM on 19 June 2006

But I still miss my Ford Ranger.

Well, so you traded in a toy truck for a toy car, eh? ;-p

Posted by: McGehee at 8:35 AM on 20 June 2006