Blog: Goodbye Taurus

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Goodbye Taurus - Thursday, December 6, 2018
Since I bought a new used car, I decided to donate my 1990 Taurus to Habitat for Humanity. The company that handles donations on their behalf is known to return around 80% of the proceeds of vehicle sales to the respective charity, which is supposed to be a lot more than some other charities typically get, so this seemed like a good option.

The tow truck driver came this morning to pick up the Taurus and haul it away. It was a bittersweet experience, but in two halves. Yesterday I was feeling some sadness and regret, but today, watching the car being loaded on the truck and watching it being driven away, I felt mostly relief. Like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

My grandfather bought the car on May 12, 1990 at Vista Ford in Woodland Hills. The base price was $12,690 and the final cost after taxes and fees was $14,169.94, the latter which would be $27,416.72 today when adjusted for inflation. According to the receipt, $900 was paid by check and the rest by cash, though that probably was in the form of a debit card.

My grandparents had their house in Honolulu at that time, so he likely had the car shipped over there right after buying it. The car still has an old Hawaii registration sticker on the rear bumper. Not sure why he didn't just buy a car in Hawaii - perhaps it was cheaper to buy one in California and have it shipped over.

The car came with my grandparents when they moved to NorCal. And in the last few years of his life, I don't think my grandfather drove it much. Mainly just to the nearby grocery store and such. It had around 20,000 miles on it when he passed away in 2003. Then my uncle inherited it and it sat around for about a year until he gave it to my dad. Then it sat around on the dirt to the side of the driveway at my parents' place until Aaron started driving it. Finally, I started driving it in 2010. So this car has really been owned/operated at one point by every guy in the family.

When I started driving the car, it had around 30,000 miles on it. The final odometer reading was 63,427. That means I drove it about 3,700 miles a year, which is more than Aaron did but is still way less mileage than most people put on their cars. Guess we're all just a low mileage family. 63k miles is really low for a 28-year-old car.

The car had a couple major mechanical issues. There was a wheel bearing failure in 2011 which left me and Priscilla stranded 20 miles from home. And a gradual coolant leak spanning a year until one day in 2012, when the leak suddenly turned catastrophic and I had to drive the car, engine smoking, to my mechanic who was fortunately a mile away.

As mentioned in my last post, I've gotten more knowledgeable about vehicle maintenance in the last year and have tried to take better care of the car. But keeping it has not been worth the amount of effort involved in maintaining it. There's too much to fix, and gaskets that get replaced have started leaking again soon after. Yes, the car would probably be in better condition had it been driven more regularly and had I been more regular with maintenance intervals. And yes, the design makes it harder to work on. So in the end, I decided that my time was better spent elsewhere and that it was time to let go. I was hoping to get this car to age 30, but I suppose that 28 will have to do.

The Taurus was the first car I've really felt was mine. It was certainly the first car where my name was on the title. When I first moved to the Bay Area, my dad let me use the family Previa. But it was too big for my needs. I didn't really use it to haul things regularly or transport a lot of people. It was a lot of wasted space. The Taurus, while still bigger than some other cars, felt like the right amount of space. Not too big, not too small. The faux wood accent on the dash gave it some personality. The engine, though not overly powerful, felt responsive. I liked beating other cars when the light turned green. Beat by a 1990 Taurus. And not even an SHO model! I felt at home in this car. And it was more than just a car. It was heritage.

So Taurus, here's to you. Thank you for getting me and my family where we needed to go. I'm sorry that my grandfather put a small dent in you when he scraped the mailbox while backing up. And I'm sorry for adding another dent as I was turning around a parking structure column. I'm sorry that I didn't take better care of you for the longest time. But you've taught me a lot, and I promise to remember those lessons with the cars I own henceforth.