You see it in car ads all over the net:
“Driven to church every Sunday by a little old lady”
“My elderly aunt had it for the last ten years and only put about 20K miles on it”
I recently took possession of a car driven by a little old lady – my mother-in-law. I have a new view on what “little old lady driven” means.
First, lets discuss the interior. A Little Old Lady is probably pretty fastidious, that’s how she got to be so old in the first place, so the interior is probably kind of clean. It might even smell like perfume. But she’s not as strong as she used to be, and getting in and out can be a chore. Look for wear and tear on any surface that could potentially be used a hand-hold. Cubbies suffer too, because as dexterity fails, it gets more difficult to operate the opening and closing mechanisms. Good bye, $250 center stack trim….. Hello permanent creases in the upholstery from the box of stuff that never made it to Goodwill….
Now, on to the drivetrain. The mysterious “O/D Off” button was never touched, and neither was the RPM range over about 3K. You’re going to be blowing carbon out that motor for a month. Check the suspension, too, because as vision fails, so does the ability to recognize potholes. CV joints and wheel bearings can take a particular beating. I’m still sorting out what the squeak in the driver’s front wheel is.
That limited vision? The slowed reflexes? The deteriorating range of motion? Oh, man. They all add up to one thing – “I didn’t/couldn’t see it!”, and that means paint. All over the body. Usually belonging to other vehicles and stationary objects. The tears of a hundred parking bollards in this case. Plan on at least a solid eight hours of wheel work just to get the worst of it off the sheet metal. The plastic bumpers might be a lost cause, and we’re not even at the scratches yet.
If the paint is suffering, you can be sure the metal is, too. Look for misaligned panels (what? Oh, no, she/I never hit anything!), deep scratches, and other small dings that throw some serious shade on Grandma’s health condition.
Needless to say, this could have been a total cream puff, but in reality, it’s a damn mess. Because little old lady. Next time you read that in an ad, think twice. You don’t want to deal with parking bollard tears. They kind of melt into the paint and stay there.