Thursday, July 25, 2013

I have to buy a new (used) car; here are some links that have been extremely helpful for me (plus a car maintenance series by Barbara Terry):

     This is a youtube vid from Eric the Car guy called Buying a Used Car (Exterior edition). He is very calm, not too slow or too fast, and the vid has good camera work. I can't tell you how many car videos I've watched where the camera is too shaky, far away, out of focus, etc, or the guy (usually a guy) is going too fast or too slow. This is a good one. I've been doing endless research on the Toyota Rav4, the Honda CRV, and the Subaru Forester, but it only occured to me today to look up basic advice vids on youtube. It turns out that the more research I do, the more I realize I know absolutely nothing about cars. Here's the second half, the under the hood part:

     He's got a third video about the exterior, and quite a few other videos about car help. He's a good resource, he's done quite a few other vids about car basics, and he's put together a group of favorite uploads from other people, all about car stuff.

     This next video is extremely helpful and extremely irritating. The couple in the vid are obviously doing it as a promotional video to push their business, and while the woman is calm and clear, the guy affects a Ginsu knife persona. While they don't go into extreme detail, they're saving the finer points for the video they're selling,  the points they do make are things I didn't know about (what I don't know = everything). Glad I saw this one:



     This one isn't about buying a used car, it is about changing the front side light on a Toyota Sienna minivan. As it happens, I've been driving around in this exact car with a bungee cord holding in the front parking light (any amount of speed makes the light dangle from the cord, like a displaced eyeball).  Kid number two pulled it out when she scraped along a cement wall in a parking garage. I've tried pushing it back in and it wont' go; according to this vid, I need to undo one little screw to get it back in place. I've been saving up to get this taken care of in a car shop but maybe I can do this on my own, fingers crossed. The guy in the vid says I only need a Phillips screw driver, so here's hoping. Also a plus, this video doesn't have obnoxious music (why oh why do so many youtube vids have bad or unnecessary music? My personal opinion is that a video of a sleeping kitty doesn't need electronica club style music, likewise a car maintenance vid doesn't need seventies hair metal. I'm grumpy that way).

     This next video is about how to change a wiper blade. Yes, when I say I don't know any.thing. about a car, there's no hyperbole. I literally know nothing about cars, and frankly, it drives me nuts. I dislike being so dependent on the honesty and knowledge of others, I dislike the fact that I can be scammed and patronized and have no idea it's happening, and I dislike the basic idea of ignorant ownership. It's not just that I'm so broke. I really want to be more self reliant, especially regarding cars. My ex never allowed me to do maintenance stuff, he always paid someone to fix stuff before I could try to help. I married someone with the same unfortunate stance on women fixing stuff as my father. Their attitudes were, and still are, if you're a woman, just sit pretty and don't mess up your manicure, cause we know you gals get so darn mad when your nails break. Not an easy philosophy to live with, to tell the truth.

      The wiper video is well done. No irritating music (just non-frenetic intro stuff), the expert help is clear, calm and easy to understand, she doesn't go too fast or slow, there's good camera work, she tells you the equipment and/or tools you'll need at the beginning of the vid and, bonus, she's a woman (yay!). It turns out Barbara Terry doesn't just race cars, she's a noted expert and even has a weekly column. I've got to show the kids her maintenance vids since it's always nice when there's a female example of expertise in auto stuff: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2684209/bio
     There are almost a hundred videos in the Barbara Terry (automdvideos) channel on youtube, all very helpful. I really, really wish she did one on fixing the signal switch. Mine stopped working two days ago, and even though I have a high threshold for embarrassment at this stage of my life, I must say I really hate doing the hand signals. I despise everything about the minivan, but the hand signals are especially hard on morale. I wish someone would steal it, or wreck it. Someone pulled the passenger side handle halfway off while the kids and I were at Shakespeare in the Park, so that doesn't work anymore, but they didn't go the extra mile and actually take the damn car. Right now it's a battle between me finding an affordable used car (and selling this one, not an insignificant detail), and the rate at which the car is falling apart. One of these days, I'm going to be sitting at a stoplight and a soft breeze will pass gently over the car and the doors will fall off and the tires will roll away. I need a new car before that happens. I wonder what it's like to drive around in a new car all the time. It must be magical.


      This video has the unfortunate name "How a girl resets her check engine light." The title notwithstanding, it is very helpful. Lee Williams is pleasant, easy to understand, and while the camera work is not terrific, it's not bad, and the music was actually funny (not sure if that was her intention but I enjoyed it). Not sure if it's legal to reset the check engine light when trying to sell a car, but this is valuable knowledge. It goes without saying that my check engine light has been on for years now. She doesn't seem to have any other car vids, but she does have a hilarious one called "How to cure a cold or flu and keep your man at home." I don't know if she means 'how to keep him home and taking care of you while you're sick' or 'one: how to get better and two: how to keep a man' but it makes me happy just to see the title in her youtube channel.


    This last video is an old Top Gear episode. There's a cautionary tale at the beginning about doing proper research before buying a used car. The woman in the vid gets saddled with a car that turns out to be TWO cars fused together and it's even worse than my current wreck. The main reason for watching is a not-super-in-depth but still good to know review of the three cars I'm researching, the holy trinity of the Honda CRV, the Toyota RAV4, and the Subaru Forester. The Honda has terrific maintenance records, but I've noticed more than one review saying that the seats aren't very comfortable and the view over the front engine isn't as good as the others. It's not a huge deterrent but I do have chronic pain, so it is a smallish issue. Consumer Reports says that the RAV4 is a best buy, but I don't trust CR anymore. I got screwed by a Hoover vacuum that worked exactly once, and have since noticed a great many of this same model for sale on Craigslist. I've had it 'fixed' by Sears twice, and have now spent enough money that I could have bought one of those Dyson scifi vacuums, or even better, one of those robots that circle around and do the vacuuming for you. Back to the point at hand. This video says that the interior of the RAV4 is kind of flimsy and cheap, so that's problematic as well. At this point, I really want someone to say, yes yes, all three are best sellers and best reviewed, but THIS is the one to buy, mazel tov. I had no idea that six months of research would just lead to six more months of research. I want to be done of it all, already. 

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