Garrett (garote) wrote,

I was curious, so I ran the numbers:

1997 Ford E-350 V8 swing-door cargo van
with thoroughly beat-up interior and 146,000 miles on it.

Fleet Force USA, Irving, TX
$4309.00-(1309.00 cashiers check + 3000.00 cashiers check on arrival)

Transmission King, Arlington, TX
$0.00-Completely rebuilt transmission with torque converter and transmission cooler ($1300.00, paid for by dealer)

Wal-Mart, Big Spring, TX
$196.84-two new "Liberator" tires
$0.00-two new "Liberator" tires (paid for by dealer)
$16.02-oil change
$16.02-Wal-Mart "tire protection plan"

Jiffy Lube, Santa Cruz, CA
$30.00-another oil change (just to be safe), fluid check, and cosmetic cleaning
$18.00-new air filter

Total so far: 4585.88

Sportsmobile, Fresno, CA
$988.00-New marine-vinyl-on-wood flooring for whole van excluding cab area.
$742.00-Grey wooden walls with trim and fiberglass insulation
$991.00-Dinette and folding bed system
$58.00-"Ford Grey" velour for cushions and bed
$548.00-Door panels and cabinets for all four rear doors
$700.00-110V Electrical system, with exterior inlet, cable, 60 amp battery charger, GFI, and six interior outlets.
$560.00-Two 30" x 15" sliding tinted windows with sliding screens
$50.00-Dinette table
$0.00-Misc interior and exterior cosmetic repair

Total cost of conversion: 4637.00
Total cost so far: 9222.88

Sears, Santa Cruz, CA
$80.00-DieHard Gold oversize battery

Pick N Pull Auto Dismantler, Sacramento, CA
$70.00-two used rims, replacing the horribly bent rear rims on the van. Vibration problem decreased by 70%.

Lithia Ford, Roseburg, OR
$320.00-Fix leaking brake seal, clean rear brake assembly, new rear brake shoes. (Front brakes still having problems, but too poor to repair right now.)

Tire Center, Portland, OR
$40.00-Used rim to replace horribly bent right front rim (finally eliminating the vibration problem)

Service shop in the Yukon, Canada
$15.00-Oil change

Radio Shack, Valdez, Alaska
$21.99-Long USB2 cable for GPS unit

Wal-Mart, Fairbanks, Alaska
$0.00-Free blowout repair under tire protection plan

Lithia Ford, Roseburg, OR
$0.00-Fix leaking brake seal again (under warranty)

River City Transmission, Rancho Cordova, CA
$40.00-Diagnose engine sluggishness/vibration problem
$725.00-Full tune-up, new spark plugs, replace broken coil pack, fix malfunctioning door handle, patch exhaust system leaks and linkage (van runs a hell of a lot better, fuel economy increased by about 40%!!!).

Sundance Car Audio, Rancho Cordova, CA
$250.00-Four new high-quality car stereo speakers

River City Transmission, Rancho Cordova, CA
$847.49-New brake assemblies for both front wheels, new brake shoes/pads and brake assembly cleaning for all four wheels.

Circuit City, Santa Cruz, CA
$32.99-Speaker wiring diagnosis and repair
$257.86-New mp3-playing stereo with front panel line-in jack and remote control

Jiffy Lube, Santa Cruz, CA
$30.00-oil change + fluid/tire check (yes, it's a ripoff)

Grand total: 11,953.21
(Some numbers are approximate.)

Good grief, vans cost a lot. But I can now confidently say that this one drives, stops, and sounds great. And what with the typical lifespan of a Ford E350, I can expect another 200,000 miles out of it.

Now if only gas weren't so freakin' expensive. :)

Oh and for the record, if anyone tells you "Newly repaired brakes squeak, it's nothing to worry about," they don't know what they're saying. Newly repaired brakes only squeak if the repairman cleaning out the brake drum has done a crappy job removing all the debris before he seals up the assembly. The squeak is the sound of a tiny piece of metal or sand, or a shard of the previous brake pad, caught under the shoe and carving a furrow into the wall of your drum ... reducing its effectiveness and eventually requiring that the whole thing be milled out and/or replaced. A squeak isn't a sign of "newness", it's a sign of a sloppy brake job, and the louder the noise the greater the damage. (Sure the squeak stops eventually, when the furrow is dug deep enough, but that's not a good sign either.)

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