Tag Archives: Catera

Things Change

My friends tell me I’m focusing too much on politics lately, so I thought I’d mix it up a bit. Since I just sold our 1993 Daytona and I have my 2008 Nissan Sentra for sale, I thought I’d take a trip down automobile memory lane.

My first car was a 1972 Datsun 510 and there is a story behind how I came to buy it, and how I became a driver.

I actually don’t remember where I was living at the time, or even where I was working. I must have been working though, since I ended up with car payments. In my recollection (let’s face it – that was a long time ago), I woke up one day and decided I wanted… no, I NEEDED a car. So I looked in the newspaper and saw a couple of cars for sale that I thought were in my price rangedatsun and I went to visit Islington Datsun. My first car buying experience was a bit surreal. I told the sales person what I could afford and he told me he had the perfect car for me. I actually bought it sight unseen. It was a yellow four door car with a vinyl roof and an A/C unit that had been installed (so I was told) by the Radman in B.C. It was cute.

Did I mention I didn’t have a driver’s license? I’m so glad they check those things these days. That’s real progress!

The first time I ever drove in my life, was the day I drove that car home. I knew the theory of driving (thanks Dad!) so all I had to do was put it into practice. I did end up getting what was called a Learner’s permit (aka 365) and went for a road test. I was kind of shocked when I failed the test the first time though – after all, I’d already been driving for months! I was experienced!

I could devote almost the length of a book to that car, my adventures in it, my misadventures in it, and how I almost quit driving for good because of it, but for now, I want to talk about my cars in general.

My father was not a fan of my Datsun. He was a GM guy, born and bred. He never could wrap his head around why I bought a Japanese car and he doubted it was even suitable for our Canadian climate – did they even have snow in Japan?

After I got married, my Dad sold us his car, a 1977 Malibu – the famous Iraqi tMalibuaxi. That Malibu took us to Florida and back, up to northern Ontario, and all over the New England states. Despite not having A/C, it was a very well made car.

Our next car was a 1982 Pontiac J2000 (manual transj-2000mission) that my cousin sold me. I’ve heard that those cars were the prototypes for the Sunbirds. Another excellent car – it just didn’t want to die.

While my father was a Chevrolet guy, I found I preferred Pontiacs. My husband was a Chrysler/Dodge guy but I’m only going to talk about MY cars.

My next car was a 1987 Pontiac Bonneville – what luxury! A plush interior, wood-grain dash, V6 engine, A/C, power windows, cruise control, etc. I bonnevilleloved it. I loved it through 2 transmissions and 2 A/C units. The power windows stopped working well, much to the annoyance of people waiting behind me going into the underground parking at work.

The Bonneville had given me so many prsaturnoblems (and cost me so much money) that the next car I purchased was a 1995 Saturn SL1 – another manual transmission car. No A/C, and no power windows. Basic transportation became my main priority. I purchased it two years old from Richmond Hill Honda on Yonge Street and drove it for many years. I sold it for $2000 less than when I purchased it.

Then my father stopped driving, and he gave me his 1998 Caprice Classic. It was a very comfortable car, but very large. He had hardly ever driven it and the mileage was quite low, but that actually isn’t a very good thing. The capriceproblems I had with it had to do with the seals and stuff like that, the type of things that happen to cars that aren’t driven much. It was rear wheel drive and built like a tank. The first time I had to put gas in it, I felt like I might need a second mortgage on my house to afford it!

The first “brand new” vehicle I had ever purchased was a 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan from Slessor Motors in Newmarket. It was hard to believe that it ended up being worse than the Bonneville. I loved that minivan – the ergonomics were fantastic, the fuel consumption decent, the engine design? not so much. Around 100,000 kms, montanathe cylinder heads cracked (both of them) and that caused a problem with coolant. I don’t understand the whole thing, but it involved the intake manifold gasket, cost $3,000 to repair and was part of a class action lawsuit against GM.

cateraI must be a slow learner because after I sold the Montana, I purchased a 2001 Cadillac Catera from Broadway Motors – which I quickly came to realize was just a prettier piece of crap sold by a slimy used car salesman. Within just a few months, the heating module needed replacing, followed by the module for the high beam lights, each of which was a few thousand dollars to replace. On top of needing premium gas, it then started burning oil. I purchased it for $10,000 and was only able to get $3000 on a trade in about 6 months later. What an expensive lesson.

The trade in was for my 2nd “brand new” car – a 2008 Nissan Sentra. It’s sentraa car I still own (although I just listed it for sale). For those that don’t know – Nissan is actually Datsun. It seemed I had come full circle (sorry Dad!), and my Sentra was the very best car I’ve ever owned. It had all the features I needed and wanted, and it never, ever broke down or left me stranded. Whoever buys this car is definitely getting a gem. Great fuel mileage, and still warranty left on the CVT transmission.

So, what have all my cars taught me? They’ve taught me that things change. When I bought my first car, GM was quality and the Japanese imports were the cheap cars that students bought. Isn’t it funny how that got turned around? It reminds me of political parties. The Conservatives are kind of like GM; once they were a decent party, but things change. And the Liberals are acting more like NDP in this election.

So the lesson here is don’t make your decisions based on historical experiences. You need to look at each party (like each car manufacturer) to see what they’re like today and try to figure out if you think they’re going to be reliable or if eventually, they’ll let you down and disappoint you.

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Another Day, Another Frustration

Today was a difficult day! It started with me putting in a cancellation order to Bell Sympatico. While each of my computers keeps getting faster and faster, my service with them gets slower and slower. Everytime I said I wanted to cancel, they would tell me my service was 5Mbps with unlimited bandwidth and they’d talk me into trying to fix the problem. Well, today, after almost 2 years, I got an honest person on the phone, who told me my line would only permit 1.1 Mbps. Well I don’t even think it’s that. I even tried to download their internet checkup software. The screen said it would only take 2 mins on a high speed connection, the download manager said it would take 34 minutes. So, I’m paying hi-speed prices for a connection that’s pretty much the same speed as dial up. Stuff downloads at 8kb/s. I actually remember getting higher speeds on dial up.

So anyway, I took the plunge and switched to Rogers Express service – 7 Mbps. I have limits on my bandwith (60 GB) but I usually only download 2-3 GB per month anyway, so I should be okay. It will be nice to have REAL hi-speed – for the same price! I picked up the modem tonight and set it up. Works great! Now I need to connect the router and setup the rest of my network which will involve moving printers, etc. because I’m now looking a cable connection instead of a phone line. And I don’t watch a lot of TV, so cable locations are limited… for now.

So, that was a bad thing that turned good. The rest of the day was not as kind to me. I tried to install the new VPN software from work, which is mandatory for me since I telecommute a few days each week. I installed it on my laptop first and couldn’t get it to work, so then I installed it on a desktop, where it did work. It emphasized how slow my DSL connection was though – working that way was brutal. Well, thank God that’s almost over.

After all the upset, I got a migraine just before my husband got home. We helped a friend with their DSL setup (and yes, I did give them my opinion of Bell DSL) and then went to Newmarket to get the Rogers modem. We stopped at Wendy’s for dinner – the one on Yonge Street just north of Davis Drive (in case anyone wants to know). ALL of the tables were filthy except for the one that rocked as bad as a circus ride. I remembered why I never go to that Wendy’s anymore, but too late. I did get someone there to wash the tables, but geez!! why did I have to ask?? In the end, I couldn’t eat the burger, I was feeling so nauseous. I hate unpleasant days.

Maybe I’m just tired from a late night last night. I’ve started going to a comedy workshop to learn how to be a standup comic. Ha-ha!! Can you see me being funny????

But that’s a post for another day!

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All GM Dealers are NOT the Same!

I remember when I first purchased my new 2002 Pontiac Montana minivan from Slessor Motors in Newmarket. The first time I had to take it in for service, I parked at side of the building and walked into the service department. The women behind the desk referred me to the service advisor. I went out to speak with him, and he yelled at me! It seems I was supposed to pull the van up to the door, which would open for me to drive in. Welllll, excuuuuuse me! How was I supposed to know that?

The van died in 2007, seven months before my payments were finished. Thanks GM. After replacing the Intake Manifold and two cracked cylinder heads, I dumped that piece of crap as fast as I could, borrowed a friend’s car until my payments on the Montana were finished, and then went shopping for a used car.

I swore I wouldn’t buy another GM product again, but I couldn’t help it – I grew up with GMs and no other type “feels” right. So I bought a 2001 Cadillac Catera. Was it a mistake? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I really do love the car.

Last week, my low coolant light came on. I checked and the coolant level is fine. So I brought it into Colonial Chev Olds in Newmarket for diagnosis and service (even though Slessor Motors is the Cadillac dealer in Newmarket). What a difference! The doors were opened as soon as I pulled up (which never happened at Slessor), nobody yelled at me; they even gave me a shuttle lift to the mall and then came to pick me up after. The sensor needs replacing. The sensor is connected to the overflow reservoir, so the whole thing needs to be replaced. $340 – ouch! No matter. It’s not that important a part, but still worth replacing.

So they have ordered the part in, and here I am, sitting at one of their computers (they call it their internet cafe, but there’s really just one computer), posting on my blog. Sweet! The service advisor (Ryan) is extremely polite, respectful and well, nice.I don’t mind getting my oil changes or other minor work done at a local garage, but let’s face it – nobody knows a car as well as a dealer. They’re specially trained in servicing GM vehicles. Yes, it’s more money, but I think it’s worth it to have something done right. The service manager at my local Canadian Tire came from Golden Mile Chevrolet – which is where my father bought all his cars when they lived in the city, so I trust him to know GMs, but a dealer is the best place to go if you have a car with lots of options/features on it.

Especially when you have a dealer that treats you well!