Only one of the vans I saw on Craigslist passed these preliminary screening described in Part 3 of this series of posts. It was an hour’s drive away, and my mechanic told me that I shouldn’t even consider buying it — it was a converted VW Eurovan — but I needed some experience in the actual process of inspecting a van, and took the trip anyway.
Eurovan maintenance stinks — it’s hard to get parts and they are cranky as all get-out, but I have VW in my blood, and I love driving the stupid things. It’s the memories of the micro-buses of my babyhood, I’m sure. We’re all just victims of that early childhood imprinting.
I picked this modern version up at a gas station, drove it down to a nearby library, and played with the lift in the parking lot until I was sure I knew everything I needed to know about how it worked. I checked the engine compartment (a lot of duct tape, hmmmm), and generally poked around. I took my time — there was a lot to consider. I needed the experience. I wanted to love it.
All the manuals were present, even for the adaptive equipment. That was good.
I tried out my nifty shower-rod measuring stick, having realized that one person’s 56 inches isn’t necessarily another’s. It turns out the owner had used a tilting wheelchair to get his wife into the van — a sensible choice, and a necessary one. But not a solution that would work for my dad.
The lift was great, and the owner had a good reason for selling — his wife couldn’t use it any more — but he and I had different standards regarding engine performance. I don’t think having the ‘check engine’ light on is a good idea, and I think most vehicles do better when there’s oil in the engine.
Because I’m a good guy, the engine light and the lack of oil prevented me from driving it further than the two miles to the library. No highway-check out for this baby.
Did I mention that the owner failed to tell me that the vehicle was really, really filthy? But hey, I got some hands-on experience in checking out lifts, and a whole bunch of new questions for my screening process. Number one should have been “Is this van too filthy to touch?”
In the end, none of the vans on Craigslist panned out, so I went to another source. More about that in Part 5.
Eurovan from Flickr, owned by somebody who takes better care.