Thursday, May 14, 2009

Car Trouble, Still Worth it

If you have been following my Twitter posts - and why on earth would you want to do that? - you may know that last Friday, on my rushed way to the Supermarket to get my lunch between two meetings, my good ol' Geo Prizm 1997 decided to die on me. Well, die is a little bit of an over statement, as you will see, but as I was standing at a light I felt a sudden "THUNK" (yes, it really was a "THUNK") and the check engine light came on.

Of course, I immediately thought the gal was finally dead, and pulled over to the side. I called one of my colleagues who knows about these things and he recommended I drive the car a few hundred yards to his mechanic. While I waited for him to come pick me up and show me the way, I called my wife and immediately threatened that if this was a big bill fix-up I was going to donate the thing to NPR (I have been meaning to pledge forever and one of these days I am sure to get a call from Ira Glass). Being the voice of reason that she is, she basically told me to shut up and see what the mechanic had to say.

Ten minutes later I was in the shop, and 20 minutes after that I had the diagnosis. Basically, I needed a big tune-up. One of the cylinders was misfiring. That and a few other fixes for a grand total of $400 (it's California) and by the end of the day the junker was running as good as old again. I have no complaints. I drive exactly 12 miles a day. Seems like a waste to buy a new car for that. That doesn't mean I am not going to complain about my jalopy every once in a while. As the owner of a crappy old car, I feel that this is my god given right!

Moolanomy recently wrote a post about preparing for and dealing with a car breakdown. For me, it's all about having a cell phone and the number for AAA. And if you car really sucks, the number for AA.

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SavingDiva said...

My car is 9 years old and it is starting to have electrical problems. I'm worried about how much it will cost, so I've just ignored the problems. I will have a mechanic look at it eventually...but I can't afford a really big bill right now!

Shadox said...

Those are pretty nasty and can be expensive to deal with. My junker has some of those too, but I got you beat by 3 years on car age... :-)

Marissa said...

12 miles a day?! I just started reading your blog (linked from frugal zeitgeist). Living in CA, you've got a great weather advantage over me in why don't you take advantage of biking?

Shadox said...

Well, it's simple: freeways... I am not going to bike on the freeways. Actually, let's be honest here. Even if I had a nice little bike path all the way from home to work I wouldn't be taking the bike. Too much work.

Welcome to Money and Such. Hope you like it.

PT said...

$400 isn't too bad considering you don't have any payments. Good for you for living so frugally. Nice story. :)

Shadox said...

Thanks for the kind words. It's not that I like driving that little old car, but whenever I get the urge to buy a new one (and I do) I have to ask myself if this makes any sense at all for 6 miles (and 15 minutes) each way 5 times a week. I did think about investing in a new radio for it, but I think it's going to be pretty weird if the radio is worth more than the vehicle it's in... BTW, I visited your blog for the first time after you commented. Cool blog. I added you to my RSS reader.