My coworker was heartbroken because his crappy cars are too stressful, so I just bought him a Toyota (a $500 one with 240,000 miles, but still)

What people don’t know about our beloved co-founder, Jason Torchinski, is that he’s had more car problems than anyone I know. I mean it’s really remarkable how much crap this guy puts up with when it comes to cars and yet he sells them completely underpriced maybe out of shame? I don’t understand, but it’s already over because I’m buying Jason’s Toyota. Yes, a vehicle from the brand that promises endless reliability will soon be sitting in Jason’s driveway, providing him with stable and trouble-free transportation. At least in theory. You see, I bought this thing for $500.

Is Toyota really that reliable? I do not know. I’ve only owned one and it was a Lexus LX470 with 265,000 miles; the thing was an absolute tank and i am still amazed by it to this day. But just as that was one data point, this 2004 Sienna minivan will be another single data point. Still, as unscientific as this is, I’m excited to see if this $500 family hauler really proves what Toyota enthusiasts have been declaring for years.

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You see, Jason needs this. Bad. He actually admits to being hopeless in an old post, writing:

sick of it. I co-run The World’s Finest Automotive Website (don’t check this out) and yet somehow I’m also incapable of maintaining my fleet of miserable junk.

Let’s take a quick look at his cars and you’ll see why I’m convinced his car situation contributed to the high blood pressure that may have played a role in his extremely scary aortic dissection late last month.

1973 VW Beetle

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Jason’s beetle, which he has owned for decades and loves with all his heart, has sadly been dead for over a year now, of unknown causes. Somehow the engine stalled and despite my many efforts to pull his Beetle around while Jason dropped the clutch while in gear, this bike just wouldn’t turn over. I have no idea what’s going on and neither does Torch.

Jason claims he put some mysterious Marvel oil in the cylinders to loosen things up, but considering the engine is cracked I doubt it did anything (the oil probably just leaked straight out the spark plug holes if I had to guess). It’s sad.

2010 VW Tiguan

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I really don’t want to talk too much about Jason’s Tiguan because it bothers me. It worries me that Jason, like so many of my friends over the years, has fallen victim to VW’s stupid engineering that is ruining the lives of so many people near and dear to my heart. I’m tired of hearing the stories. I’m irritated. Modern Volkswagens are pathetic, and this Tiguan, which already self-destructed due to poor valvetrain design, is now overheating. ugh

1989 Ford F-150

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I’ve already bought Jason a vehicle to solve these problems (see the article “David Tracy Bought Me an ‘Unkillable’ 1989 Ford F-150, But Taking It In Was a Shitshow”). It’s the most reliable vehicle I’ve ever even heard of: It’s a Ford F-150 with a tough T-18 four-speed manual transmission and an equally strong 300 inline-six engine. In theory, this combination I can not be broken and yet our beloved Jason made it. The starter died, he replaced it and shortly after that the flywheel teeth broke. So now the vehicle does not want to turn and the transmission needs to be removed. nonsense!

1991 Yugo GV Plus

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Screenshot: Jalopnik

Jason’s Yugo works, but I guarantee he hasn’t ridden it in a long, long time. It’s not because she doesn’t like it, it’s because it’s a little… rough around the edges. It’s a car that people have had in their driveways but never actually seen owned. This is a deeply, deeply neglected machine that needs a lot of maintenance, and Jason’s shifter fix (which he wrote about on Jalopnik) just isn’t really acceptable, nor is his throttle cable pen fix.

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Nor is his “permanent” garden hose-based fix:

Garden hose


1990 Nissan Patrol

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Jason’s Nissan Pao is actually a tough little machine, except for one thing: Torch keeps running into deer. He did it once, the vehicle wasn’t long, then it was repaired, then the car overheated because the repair didn’t include a new radiator hose (so the thing leaked and blew the head gasket) and after it was out for over a year , Jason recently hit another deer. Pao is a deer magnet, it seems.


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The Changli, the world’s cheapest electric car, has been out of action for over a year due to swollen batteries that Jason literally had to cut out with a chainsaw. Torch recently replaced the batteries with cheap walmart marine batteries, but they didn’t fit the box, so there are two in the rear footwell, connected so tightly that I’m confident the Magic Smoke will soon fill the cabin of the vehicle and make the beloved little red EV useless. Also, it’s really not a viable mode of transportation for any trip that requires more than 20 mph or a range of more than about 12 miles.

1977 Dodge Tioga RV

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Jason’s Dodge Tioga is what he moved into his house with about a decade ago. He parked it and it hasn’t moved since. The engine doesn’t compress (I suspect a bad timing chain, though that’s surprising given how short that chain is on a Dodge 440), and I saw a feral cat living in it the last time I opened it up. Chapel Hill’s climate can sometimes resemble a rainforest, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this cabin is moldy in this moment.

The Savior is here

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I believe in my heart that this Toyota Sienna with 241,000 miles will be the most reliable vehicle in Jason’s fleet. I know, I used to think so about the “unkillable” Ford F-150, but I have a good feeling about this all-wheel-drive Toyota offered by St. Louis-based Autopian reader David for the low, low price of $500.

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Will it be exciting? Maybe not, but Jason won’t be driving for a while anyway due to his recent aortic dissection, so this might be a great way to get him and his walker going. Also, he tends to find joy in everything, too is pro-minivan.

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Maybe I’ll be wrong. Maybe the Sienna at 241,000 miles will be just as crappy as Jason’s other cars, but we’ll put this Toyota Promise to the test when I bring him this van in early January.

I have to fly to St. Louis and get the front struts fixed before I travel to Chapel Hill, NC, but hey, you didn’t think a $500 Sienna would be completely trouble-free, did you? I will take care of these struts and remove any other overdue maintenance items I see. Then we’ll know if this vehicle can stand up to a man known for killing cars.

It’s Toyota vs. Torch.

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