We suddenly found ourselves needing to be in the market for a used van i.e. Melynda's very dependable car up and tore it's engine apart. After looking around we realized that we hadn't asked God to provide a dependable and affordable minivan.
He provided two.
Van A) 2001 Honda Odyssey, 112,000 miles, new timing belt at 100,000, very well maintained with all the papers. The van was being sold in North Manchester by an almost-retired lawyer for his daughter in Illinois. We loved the van, hit it off with the lawyer and his wife (yeah, I don't normally fraternize with lawyers but this guy was actually on the up and up and a steadfast member of his local Lutheran church) and gave him a certified check. Melynda drove it home and almost before she was out of North Manchester the check engine light came on. It was the transmission, a problem the 2001s are notorious for having. We called the lawyer up that night and he offered to take the van back and return our check. Since then he has offered to sell us the van minus the cost of a new transmission so that the transmission warranty would be in our name. We were very happy to have found this van below the Kelly Blue Book price.
Van B) 2004 Honda Odyssey, 73,000 miles, newer tires, new transmission at 57,000 miles, extremely well maintained with all work done by the dealer. So well maintained that I think the owner makes Felix Ungar look like a slob, as in seat covers and deluxe floor mats. We think that he's the kind of guy who buys a new car every few years whether he needs one or not, but still seemed like a very nice and honest fellow, for a Buckeye. This one is the EX model with power side doors and a few other extras (Van A is the LX model), plus it seemed just a wee bit tighter/more solid than the 2001. At nearly twice the cost of the 2001 it's still under Kelly Blue Book but would be an even larger loan from my 401k in these uncertain times.
Of all the Odyssey vans Consumer Reports rates the 2004 as the best year. 2001 is comparable with an excellent engine but a poor transmission rating... which would be nullified by the new transmission. Both vans are great buys. We were 100% happy when we bought the first van and would have been even more thrilled if, when we bought it, it had a brand new transmission under warranty. Are we greedy to want Van B? Since we plan to keep it for at least a decade is Van B the better long term buy?