The Camry’s suspension issue finally has been resolved. We’ve spent far too much time and far too much money on it, but it appears the problem is now part of history. The source of the annoying “clunk” I heard and felt over even the slightest bump was not entirely the struts (which now, again, are new), nor was it the lower control arm bushings (which did not get replaced); no, the noise and attendant thud arose from bad front stabilizer links. Whatever the hell those are. Regardless, after another $370 thrown at the monster, it’s gone. Only two years after the problem began.
In spite of the fact that we’ve probably spent far more on the car than should have been necessary and in spite of the fact that I was ready to throw in the towel, I’m glad we didn’t sell it. I figure I’ve invested $3,000 or more in the past two years to get the problem fixed, but I would have spent far more to get a replacement vehicle. And, although the 2002 Camry’s exterior design is rather homely, it is comfortable, drives reasonably well, and only has 108,000 miles on it…or is it 105,000…so it should have at least another 100,000 left in it. It won’t be a cheap 100,000. I accept the fact that maintenance, such as for brakes, the next new timing belt, etc., etc. commands high prices. But, still, it’s cheaper than a replacement vehicle. At 12 years old and counting, the Camry is relatively young.
Even though we’ve spent more on the Camry than we planned, we’ll go ahead and get another car in the not-too-distant future and make the Camry the “second” car. Even though it will be “number two,” we’ll go ahead and invest yet a bit more to fix up an issue or two, most notably a scratch in the windshield that was caused by sand under the wiper blades a few years ago. We’ll get the windshield replaced (or, if the scratches can be buffed out, we’ll just have it repaired) on Saturday. And we’ll replace the front headlight assemblies which have grown awfully cloudy and no longer respond sufficiently well to be “buffed” to clarity. Once those additional investments are made, it will be almost like new; just 12 years old.
We’ve discovered there’s enough of a demand to be two people in two places at the same time that another car, though not an absolute necessity, is a reasonably justifiable luxury. We’ll probably hold off on that, though, until we move. So we’ll have plenty of time to decide what kind of vehicle best fits our needs. In an ideal world, I’d find a new type of convertible, a vehicle that converts from a gas-sipping pickup with a big bed to a small, easily maneuverable sedan for my wife. Our technology has not evolved so far. Too bad.