Weekend Auto Sales

We’ve had such amazing and thrilling — but admittedly draining — two weeks that most of our Anchorage weekend was a staycation at the aircabin. We woke up Saturday morning focused entirely on three things: the Tracker that needed selling, the TU/OSU football game that needed watching, and Mark’s bicycle still on the porch that needed a clandestine fetching. I worried that the deal on the Celica didn’t feel “closed” until that bike was gone.

Meanwhile, George and Evan both adjusted the Tracker listing and took more calls, fielding questions and requests. Ultimately only one family came out to see the Tracker, but it was quite an ordeal. Two women from the family arrived to check it out and do a test drive. While I stayed scarce to avoid making anyone feel crowded, I listened from an open window. The two seemed pleased with the interior and how good everything looked, but then… when they went to drive it… it didn’t start.

The engine just wouldn’t turn over but the starter motor was definitely cranking hard. It almost sounded to me like the starter wasn’t engaging with the engine because it sounded like it was spinning freely. It was perhaps the most disappointing noise I have ever heard. I looked out the window to see the pair starting to drive away as George and Evan poked at the Tracker.

In frustration, Evan floored it trying to start it. It roared to life and I ran back to the window to see the vehicle puff out a massive white cloud. Our current working theory is that the test driver had flooded the engine by trying to start it with the gas pedal in. I didn’t realize that could happen with modern electric injection, but it’s the best explanation so far. Thankfully, the women stopped, reversed back into the driveway, and came back over. The four of them spent the better part of an hour down in the driveway as both women did a test drive, then turning the car off and back on endlessly.

Then they FaceTime’d with another family member. Long enough to discover a new pool of oil leaking. Further inspection from George, confirmed by a mechanic friend of that family, revealed that the valve cover gasket and oil pan were both leaking. $30 in parts but several hours in labor. That was super disheartening because, to that point, it had been the only leak-free vehicle among us.

Ultimately, they left for the day but promised to return after church in the morning. That would leave them enough time to actually close the deal if they showed up. But church would let out around 2 and George and Evan’s flight to Tulsa departed at 7, so if anything didn’t go well, I would probably own a Tracker for an extra day.

From our perspective, we were desperate for them to execute this purchase, but objectively, they missed a lot of opportunities to run away. But they had faith, perhaps strengthened at church.

And as they drove away in the Tracker, I stood on the porch and again reflected on how far we’d come as a group, and how bittersweet it was that it was all over. I know George is disappointed because the Tracker’s extensive repairs combined with its low sales price put him in a a hole, but I remained fond of that vehicle the whole way up. I do hope that one day that man and that machine’s memory can reach peace.

As quickly as the first round of sales went, so too did the end of this one. While I stood in the rain seeing the Tracker away, George and Evan frantically packed up for their fast approaching flight home. We hopped in a Lyft to ANC, I snagged a rental car for my last day in Anchorage without them.