It’s been about 5 years since buying a Chevy Malibu Maxx, a car masquerading as a station wagon. Seemed to be a good idea at the time. I wanted something not-too-big, but not-too-small, decent on fuel efficiency, not too high in mileage, but also able to carry a fair amount of gear. This last point was also an important consideration, as my occasional tinsmithing demonstrations require transporting a fair bit of equipment –hand tools, bench stakes, tool box, portable table, work bench, etc.
The car had its strengths, and its weaknesses. When I told my mechanic I was getting the vehicle, he said “Hmmm, 3.5 liter engine. Pretty reliable. Haven’t worked on one of those cars before, so it’ll be a good learning experience for us both!” When he got a look under the hood, however, his observation was less than delightful. “We definitely weren’t impressed with what we saw.” Fateful words, it would turn out. On top of that, with a 3.5 liter V6 engine, while well able to get out of its own way, it ended up being a bit thirstier than I would have liked.
Over the next few years, we found out the good quality of the normally reliable Chevy Malibu was not passed along to its wannabe-wagon kid brother. Instead of a front axle it had two control arms. These were made of aluminum –“can you say ‘bendable’, boys and girls?” The ball joints, in other cars designed as removable and replaceable items, were here attached to the control arms. But ball joints wear out, and
replacing the entire control arm was needed. Then, bad ball joints led to bent tie rods. In combination, this meant replacing all this equipment on nearly an annual basis, to the tune of about $750.
After two such repairs under its serpentine belt, and a third pending, plus near ly 100K miles, it was time for a change of pace. Fuel efficiency also cried out for relief, with gas at over $4 a gallon.
Time for improved cargo space, better fuel efficiency, much lower mileage, reliability and admittedly, a touch less power. I’m now “Scion” over my land holdings. (Quick! Check the dictionary.)
…And, (looking at my draft story, now over a year old) after just over a year of owning it, I’m still happy with it. Had a few adventures with it, including one unfortunate meeting with a less fortunate ungulate. But that’s another story.