Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Day, Another $280...

The old gal broke down on me again. Just two weeks after my check engine light came on, and I repaired the car to the tune of $400, it came back on last Friday. Last time I felt the car go THUNK. This time, the light came on but the car continued to drive fine. Since I was not in the mood for a visit to the shop just before a long holiday weekend, I decided to risk it and drove straight home rather than going to the mechanic.

This Tuesday I went back to the shop and within 5 minutes we had a diagnosis: a faulty oxygen sensor. The car's computer spat out the answer - I am actually amazed the old gal has a computer. A car that old should probably have an abacus. Be that as it may, the problem was completely different from the cylinder misfire issue I had last time. The mechanic told me that repairs would cost about $250 but that he could clear out the alarm and I could try driving the car for a while longer and maybe I could get a few more months out of the existing sensor.

I decided to bite the bullet and go with the repair, primarily because a faulty oxygen sensor could cause the car to create more pollution, and I don't think that I should inflict any more CO2 and smog forming emissions on the planet than is absolutely necessary. In the end this fun little episode cost me $280 or so.

The car is now fixed. However, after 12 years of faithful and trouble free service we've had a couple of breakdowns in just over two weeks. If this is just a coincidence, I'll keep this car on the road for another 2 or 3 years. However, if this turns into a regular occurrence, there may be no choice but to get a new steed. I am hoping for the former.

One more thing: I told one of my colleagues about this oxygen sensor incident and he told me that the exact same thing happened to his relatively new car last year. He took his car to the dealer and was charged $700 for the same repair... You just gotta love those dealers.

Check out these posts from other bloggers who are trying to live a frugal life:

The Dough Roller recommends some gadgets that can help reduce your energy bill. I am all in favor of both cutting energy bills and cutting emissions.

Wealth Builder offers some common sense advice about saving. The best piece - save BEFORE you buy something. Financing is expensive.

My Two Dollars reviews the Consumer Reports best cars. If I do end up buying a new car, it will be a hybrid. However, I hope to hold out for a few more years and buy a plug-in hybrid. 100 MPG, baby!

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