The death of Toyota

This photo shows a 1995 Toyota 4Runner

Oooooh, what a feeling to scraaaaaaap, Toyota.

Not the company, but our 1995 4Runner, may she rest in peace.

We lost her a couple weeks ago on a trip to Vancouver Island. We were planning to sell her – had in fact already bought a zippy and fuel-efficient Honda Civic to replace her – but wanted to go on one last jaunt with her.

We decided to sell her because, let’s face it, 4Runners are pigs on gas. 

So we take her to the island, and man, is it ever going to be a cheap trip. We fill up on gas in Point Roberts, Wash. We take the ferry at no cost – M recently started working with BC Ferries – and both nights’ stay are got through Visa reward points. YES.

Friday is a wonderful day. We take Toyota to a regional park (whose name escapes me), to the Sooke Potholes, and decide to go along the Sooke Road as far as Jordan River, stopping at French Beach – gorgeous – along the way. Toyota loves it. We go back to the hotel with the intention of making our way to Parksville the next day.

But Toyota has other plans.

We go to start her in the morning and she makes a horrible clunking noise. But she turns over, so we drive her to the store. When we come out, she won’t start. We call CAA, who tows us to Crappy Tire. CT says they’ll look at her right away. We go for a walk, have breakfast at the Swans Suite Hotel, check out Victoria’s cool thrift stores, etc. Then M gets a call from CT. The starter is shot, and we’re looking at a bill of $500 – so far. They’re also hearing grinding in the gears or something, so it could be something more serious.

This is not what we want to hear, but we try to keep our spirits up. We go to Shopper’s, check out the waterfront and decide to have a coffee at Paul’s, a wonderful inn and drive-in complete with brown vinyl benches and carhops.

Ring, ring. It’s Crappy Tire. The engine is shot and will cost $2,500 to replace. Toyota is not worth that much. I sit there kind of stunned, but M springs into action. First he calls our mechanic in Vancouver, who says he doubts the starter had anything to do with the problem.

Then M takes his iPhone and taps out an ad for Craigslist (using a handy Craigslist app, of course) offering Toyota as a parts truck for $600. Twenty minutes later this guy calls and wants to see her. We meet him at CT and offers us a lousy $200. We say thanks but no thanks and he gives us his card.

We go into CT and M tells the guy at the desk what our mechanic said. The guy says they will remove the new starter at no cost to us – the catch is they can’t do it till Tuesday. And they will waive that bogus $118 diagnostic fee they always charge. That brings our bill down to $177 (labour). Suddenly, buddy’s $200 offer does not seem that bad. And since he’s the only fish biting, we call him back, and M manages to extract an extra $75 out of him, with the agreement that he will come haul away Toyota – sans new starter – on Tuesday.

So we ended up making the huge profit of $98 on our beloved truck. And then we had to pack all our stuff onto the bus to go to the ferry, which we had just missed. So we sat there for an hour and a half, got the ferry, took the bus to the SkyTrain, SkyTrain to the bus, and the bus home.

Is there a lesson here somewhere? Yes: smartphones effing RULE. If you don’t have one, you’re crazy. And that’s about it.

Toyota in happier times

1995 Toyota 4Runner on Highway 99 close to Mount Currie, B.C. with my friend C and Paul, a member of the Lillooet, or Lil'wat, First Nation.

Toyota, my buddy C and Paul, a member of the Lillooet, or Lil’wat, First Nation, who wanted to take us horse riding. Toyota didn’t think it was a good idea. I think she was just jealous.

1995 Toyota 4Runner drying porcini or king bolete mushrooms, Elaho Valley, B.C.

Here’s Toyota helping us dry the several pounds of porcinis we found one October in the Elaho Valley, Toyota’s favourite place to camp.

1995 Toyota 4Runner in the Elaho Valley, B.C.

Here she is again in the Elaho Valley, soaking up the sun, on a different camping trip.


Toyota on her way to St. Agnes Well, or Skookumchuk, hotsprings. We stopped at this little beach. I drove Toyota right down to the water and had to put her into 4×4 to get out. She loved it.


And finally, Toyota on a logging road in the Elaho Valley, where she’d spotted some mountain goats way up in the mountains. She stopped so C and I could take a look.


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