Our 2005 Suburban has been a trusty vehicle for all the years we've owned it. 12.5 years, to be exact. It was basically brand new when we bought it (company used, about 4500 miles on the odometer when we took possession). Now, more than a decade later, it is showing a bit of wear on the outside, with some rocker panel rust and more than a few dents and dings. What can I say, it's been through four teenage drivers, and numerous long distance trips. It has carried us from mid-Michigan to places like Canada, Florida, Oregon, Pennsylvania, the Upper Peninsula, as well as to South Carolina about a handful of times before DS1, K2 and the grandkids moved up here.
That's just the trips that were more than 200 miles one way. Daily commutes to the Christian school I had at least one student in until June 2011 racked up 220 miles each week during the school year. To say it has high mileage would be kind of stating the obvious.
Earlier this month, the odometer rolled 238,000 miles, and I said to DH: "We are about the enter the unknown."
You see, we've had three other vehicles that we drove to over 200,000 miles before something major (more truthfully, majorly expensive to repair) gave out on them. First was a 1984 Chevy Caprice Classic (bought in the summer of 1991 and retired in 1997). Then, a 1989 Pontiac Bonneville (bought in the fall of 1993, and retired late winter/early spring 1999). Most recently, a 1999 GMC Sonoma (bought in March 1999 brand new!! 5 miles on the odometer! and retired in 2008.)
Of those three, the Bonneville made it to about 238,200 miles and then blew the head gasket. It has been our record holder, so far, for highest mileage before 'dying'. Although truthfully, none of those vehicles became scrap immediately after leaving our possession. Nope, each one was lucky enough to be sold to a young mechanic (DH has an affinity for finding young mechanics on tight budgets) who was going to fix what was wrong with the vehicle (doing the work himself, thus saving the high labor cost that was the reason we no longer wanted to repair the vehicle), then use it for a daily driver.
That's why, when the Suburban ticked past the 238,000 mile mark, the suspense began to build. How many miles can I drive before something major breaks? Can I make it past 238,200 miles? What will it be that dies? Where will I be when it happens? (Cue either the Twilight Zone music, or the Jeopardy final question music).
Not that something major has broken, but in a way today I feel like I shouldn't have asked. You see, I was on my way home from the grocery store (approx. 20 miles away), and the odometer clocked yet another milestone reading. 238,400 miles. I even took a quick picture of it, so I could show DH.
Wouldn't you know, about ten minutes later, less than 2 miles from home, I was coming up over a blind hill and was surprised to see a combine coming toward me, taking up 3/4 of the narrow road. I jammed on the brakes, and felt the pedal pretty much sink to the floor. Luckily between me quickly steering as far onto the shoulder as I could without hitting a mailbox or tree, and the farmer doing the same in the combine, we passed each other without touching.
Where had my brakes gone? They were there just minutes before, at a stop sign, like normal. But when the combine appeared, my brakes disappeared.
The rest of the way home, I made sure to give myself lots of stopping distance, and to utilize engine braking when needed. Thank goodness there was zero traffic after that combine.
Once home, I took the groceries into the house and put them away (can't let the ice cream melt, I'm going to be stress eating some later today for sure!). After the cold food was safely stored, I went back outside to see if I could diagnose what the issue with my brakes was.
Didn't take long to figure out.
Appears to be a blown brake line on the left rear. I guess after 238,400 miles a brake line is allowed to wear out. That's pretty darn good service. We've had to replace them a lot sooner on other vehicles we've owned.
Thankfully, a brake line isn't a major thing to replace. So, the suburban should be up and running again in a day or two, just as soon as we get parts and time to fix it. Which is good, because I have a goal to roll at least 250,000 miles before I give up my suburban!