Working in the IT field has taught me that the price you pay to purchase something is not necessarily the total cost to own and use that item.  Most of the time we take for granted the additional costs to maintain and run a device like a Personal Computer, Notebook, Television, and Car.  Two years ago I was faced with purchasing a car with about $1500 in cash and not having a payment when I was done.  After searching for a month on Craig’s List, I realized that anything in the $1500 price range was going to be a piece of junk that might run for a few months or it might crap out almost immediately.  During my search, I kept adding money to the pot until I hit the $3000 mark and I found a 2002 Kia Sportage with 115,000 miles and a salvage title at an local auto dismantler called Auto Gator.It didn’t have any telltale body damage although it was not drivable and the engine made a horrendous noise.
I called my best friend who is an excellent mechanic and sent him the Craig’s List Ad and we discussed the options and decided that replacing the engine was a possible alternative.  So I called another dismantler and found a used engine that the dismantler would waranty / guarantee for 90 days included in the price.  My best friend went and looked at Kia Sportage and then came over and told me that if it were him and he had the money he would do it.  So we made the arrangements and had the Kia towed to a mutual friends Garage and then we went and got the Engine and everything he would need to do the transfer including a cherry picker. 
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Two days later, on Monday, the 15th of March 2010, I get the call that the car is done and that my best friend is going to come over and get me so I can take it for a test drive and then drive it home.  Luckily the mutual friend lives right along the direct back road route to between our houses and the auto dismantler.  It drove like a dream and seemed to have more power then my old Honda Element although it lacked the space of the Honda Element.  If the Honda Element was a Extra-Large size, then the Kia Sportage would be a Medium.  The car was on Empty when I picked it up and I put it through its paces as best as I could as I rushed to the Raley’s to get gas.
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I don’t usually shop at Raley’s but in this case, I had a coupon to get 25 cents off per gallon and considering that they are usually one of the cheaper options for gasoline, an additional 25 cents makes then significantly cheaper.  My wife’s parents shop there and her Stepfather gives them to me from time to time otherwise I go to Safeway which takes 3 cents off just for punching in my club card number or 10 cents if I have spent $100 for groceries in one visit in the past 30 days.
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When I got home I went to E-bay and found some much needed accessories for the car.  The first being a bug deflector for the front hood and window vent visors for all four windows.  I am not sure the bug deflector does anything but it sure looks cool on my white Marshmallow. The window Vent Visors allow you to crack the windows even when it is raining and the air rushing by creates a vacuum that sucks the air out of the car.  I also added a sun visor organizer and a sun visor CD Holders.  My Kia was now beginning to look the way I wanted and needed it to considering the amount of driving I was likely to be doing.
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Registering a salvaged vehicle in California requires that vehicle must have a Brake, Lamp and Smog tests performed on it after it is sold by the Salvage yard before the vehicle is registered.  So I had to go to the DMV with all my paper work and pay the registration and the associated state sales taxes which can be a significant amount since it is based upon the sale price of the Vehicle that is written on the back of the title as part of the information required for transfer of ownership and the vehicle title.  In return they gave me the paperwork
that gave me 90 days to have  all of the tests performed and then a trip to the DMV makes everything legal.  I found a place not too far from my house when I was going to Sprint to have my phone replaced.  The costs for the three tests was not too unreasonable considering the list of things that had to be visibly inspected along with the normal cost of a Smog Examination. It took them roughly three hours to perform the tests and when they were through, the only work the car needed was to have the drums replaced and I had them do it.  The car passed the smog test with flying colors, actually emitting zeroes in places where it was allowed 10 and 20’s.
I then got a Fix it ticket for my registration because it took me so long to find a place and get the proper tests done.  Since my registration was in process, the DMV said my car had not been registered since it was put up for auction.  Needless to say, this forced me to complete the registration as soon as possible.  I got a Lincoln Police Officer to sign off on the ticket as well as the brake and lamp inspection tests as required by the DMV by being coy.  I approached the officer, who was on a Motorcycle and asked how he was doing.  I then asked how he felt about the ballot measure to introduce a city tax to keep from cutting police officers.  I then sprang the request on him and at first he was going to deny my request and refer me to the Police Department HQ which handles those requests once a week with an appointment, and probably some sort of charge.  I think he thought about my mentioning the referendum and my support of it and decided this would be good PR.  He did the signoff and I went to the new Placer County Court building to take care of the ticket.  I always have a tinge of fear and anxiety when I enter a court house because they are places where Truth, Justice and Due Process all live in the service of the Judge and his powers over them.  But that’s another blog entry.
Finally this car was now legally ready for me to drive it until it died.  While I don’t hate the car but, I also do not love it.  It has a few issues that I will forever be unable to resolve because finding replacement parts has been an expensive and exhausting proposition.  But it is a fairly economical vehicle and actually looks pretty good and it proved itself reliable. After driving about 8000 miles something funky happened, while I was driving.  I was on the highway and I heard a funny noise while accelerating and then the Speedometer dropped to zero while I was still moving at about 65 miles per hour.
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The check engine light then came on and in a panic I called my best friend and took the car over for him to look at.  He checked all of the wiring between the dash and the engine and at first was unable to figure out what was going on.  Somewhere, somehow during his testing he unhooked the knee airbags with the battery connected which caused a fault to be registered by the onboard computer.  Eventually he was able to trace it down to the gear that sticks in to the transmission that registered the RPMS, etc.  This is a plastic / nylon gear that slips in to the transmission and we obtained another one from Pick ‘n Pull and I was good to go for another 1500 miles when the same thing seemed to happen again.  This time, I opted to get a new part with a warranty from the dealer, except this time it wasn’t the external part that stripped, it was the internal one that this one interfaced with.  So, I returned the $40 part and got the correct $75 part and once installed everything was back to normal.  In all reality one belt and two gears on a 8 year old car really is not that much in the way of repairs for a years worth of driving and probably 25,000 miles put on the vehicle since I let my Best Friend and another friend drive it when they needed a car for work.
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Then one morning about 6 months ago, I went out to find my tire almost flat.  I drove slowly to the local 76 Station and used the air there to fill the tire up.  I found that there was a screw in the tire, but touching it let the air out rapidly so I decided it was best to leave it since I had a very early morning job this morning.  After the job, on the way home I happened to go by my best friends house and our mutual friend was there.  I asked her if she would be willing to do me a favor and that I would pay her.  I needed new tires and I needed them today because any delay could be serious.  All four tires were showing threads on the inside and now I had screws in one of them.  So she agreed and basically I went home and she followed me to the Firestone Dealer and I dropped my car off and paid for it.  She then took me back to my house where my best friend was watching my kids and she took him back to wait for my car.  Three hours later he came back with my car and I drove him back home.
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4 NEW Primwell Tires PS380, mounting, balancing and installing them back on the car along with a much needed front end alignment cost about $600 from Firestone.  The tires have around 4,000 to 8,000 miles on them and came with a 65,000 mile warranty from the manufacturer handled through Firestone and their network of repair shops and I can either find the documentation or get a copy from Firestone for the purchaser.  They may even transfer the lifetime warranty on the Front End Alignment that I paid for at the time I purchased the tires.
Without counting incidentals such as oil changes, fuses, lights, wiper blades, washer fluid and other incidentals, I now have invested about $4225 in to this vehicle, but it has really proven to be very dependable and has gotten me from point A to point B without an issue.  I have probably put 30,000 miles on this vehicle in the time I have owned it.  March of 2012 will be the two year mark.
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Even with the mileage being off because of me driving it without it registering it due to the gears that had to be replaced, I have put about 15 to 20 thousand miles on the car this year.  The gasoline was killing me because a lot of the contract jobs I have been getting through OnForce and WorkMarket have been 50 or more miles away one way and quite a few have been in Chico.  So this takes about $20 – 30 off the price I am earning to pay for the gas, mileage and insurance.  The car is also small which restricts how much gear and what kind of gear I can haul in it.  So I have been watching Craig’s List for a Ford Escape which has close to the same mileage but has a larger interior.  But it seems that the Cash For Clunkers program has kept the used car prices artificially high.  10 year old models are still selling for $5,000.
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Two weeks ago a private party posted an ad on Craig’s List selling a used 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid with 74,000 miles and a salvage title for $7500.  So I called the guy and arranged to come and see the car.  I called my best friend and he came over and we headed out but the guy didn’t answer his phone before we got out of town so we turned around and I figured it was a scam or he was a flake.  I had texted him a few questions which went unanswered as well.  So I kept watching Craig’s List and the vehicle was posted again for $7000.  So this time I texted him and told him I had $6500 cash, he said he couldn’t go any lower then $6900.  I told him I was interested and that we could meet tomorrow near my bank in Roseville and swap the money and title there.  He agreed and I purchased the Car Fax report to know exactly what had happened to this vehicle.  After reading the Carfax Report and talking to my wife and my best friend, I decided to purchase this new vehicle unless it has noticeable issues.  It didn’t and exceeded my expectations really and I got a amazing bargain considering what else is out there on Craig’s list in my price range.  So I wrote this blog as an introduction for this car.  I have included the pictures of the tires, as the new Ford Escape I bought needs new tires, but I knew this when I bought it.  This car has never had an issue with smog, or anything else major and the only current problem is that the Airbag light flashes and KIA wants $160 to diagnose the problem. 
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As you can see from these pictures,
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all of the tires have good tread left on them
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and they are all in very good condition.
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The tires were just cleaned and treated with armor all.  And I just had the vehicle detailed inside to make it as clean and nice inside as possible.  Included with the car is a windshield sunscreen (the suction cups are on the window and removing them will make them unusable in another car) and I will throw in a brand new, unused Spare Tire Mount Bicycle rack that original cost around $150.
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A view of the front from the Driver’s side door.  It still has the protective plastic wrap and floor guard from the car wash where I had it detailed.
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The center console.  It is missing a piece of the plastic below the cup holder and I was unable to locate another face plate via Pick ‘n Pull and other dismantler’s wanted more money then it was worth to fix it.  The radio has good sound and it has a single CD player.
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The rear view of the car from the driver’s side passenger door.  Notice how clean and nice the seats are.  This is incredibly unusual for a 10 year old car at this price.
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I ferried around my two kids in this car and this is the cleanest it has ever been.  When I got the car, I cleaned the seats myself and thought they were stained permanently and was truly amazed at how good a job the detailer did.
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This is the view of the front interior of the car from the passenger side door.  Notice how nice and clean the seats, carpet and dash are.  For a 10 year old vehicle this car is in excellent shape.
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Here is a view of the rear interior from the passenger side rear door.  Once again notice how clean and nice this vehicle is.
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Finally here is the view of the back of the car.  In this picture are the Rear Mounted BiCycle rack, the Windshield sunscreen and the Front Hood Bug Visor which came off while I was washing the car, it was mounted with double sided sticky tape previously.  If I were to mount it again, I would wash the shield with glass cleaner and alcohol and wash where the mount touches the underside of the hood with glass cleaner and alcohol and then use 3M Automotive Grade Adhesive Molding tape along the entire surface area of the hood.  This should secure it for a much longer period of time since the tape that was shipped with it was of a much lower quality.  The tape costs less then $10 at Autozone.
I you are still interested in this car then make me an offer.  So this is my Marshmallow and she’s for sale.  If you are interested email or call me through the Craig’s List Advertisement.  Thanks for looking!


Since it seems not many people can read directions, if you want to call to discuss this fine vehicle, the number is in the first comment.  Unfortunately posting that in the Ad and this blog did not help.  My Cell number is (415) 370-5631.

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