We have been noticing a ping coming from our van engine. This ping has been difficult to pinpoint; however it has been most noticable when the engine is putting out some torque - like accelerating while going uphill.

My theory has been that the engine was developing a knock and perhapse a solution was to start using a higher grade gasoline.

A few days later - I don't remember the exact day - (Not knowing what day it is can arise from the condition of being on vacation) The kids and I took a trip up to a cabin that is owned by the father-in-law. Since the nephew has a driver's learning permit I let him drive. Well, 2/3 of the way up the mountain the road was blocked. The road maintanence crew had it closed and was fixing some kind of bridge damage from something. Anyway, on the way back to the town house the water pump in the van seized up, the belt popped off and (naturally) the power steering went out. A high temperature warning bell sounded. I directed my student driver to pull over and kill the engine. He wrenched the wheel over and got the thing parked.

We had the van towed to a local Dodge dealership and learned the repair was going to be around $700.

Even before hearing the estimate I had pretty much decided to try to replace that van. The van's alarm system has a way of running down the battery and the heater coil has a way of not working until you have been driving it the freezing temperature for half an hour after the engine has warmed up. Yes, it's hard to appreciate the need for a heater coil in this summer weather; but winter does happen on occasion. Besides, as I will be flying home in a few days and Mrs. Neshort and her mother will be driving back with all our kids I am not comfortable with them driving that van with its proclivity to having its battery drained.

We were pretty much set on replacing that van in the spring; but that meant - what? Maybe the heater coil will go completely out ($$) or the transmission will fail ($$$$$).

Chrystler, in an effort to improve its 1990's reputation of bad transmissions, now has a lifetime drive trane warantee.

There are a few problems: (1) We took out one of the rear bucket seats to make more room for the trip out. (2) My set of keys is on the dresser at our home in Arizona. (3) The title deed for the van is also at our home.

Apparently, these problems aren't really problems as long as I promise to send the title and the van seat once I get back to Arizona.

So, we traded in our 2000 Town and Country for a 2008 Town and Country.