July has turned out to be quite an expensive month for us!
First, my husband had an emergency root canal. Then my tooth chipped (I still need to go have an exam to see if it will require repair, but I think I’m going to try to wait until August since July has already been so expensive!).
Then on Friday last week I took our Explorer to have an oil change. The light had been on for almost a week (since our Utah trip) and, although the husband generally does oil changes himself, I found a coupon online for $21.99 (by comparison, we usually spend about $20 for the stuff needed for husband to do it himself, so this was a great deal).
Well, of course I can’t get off with only a $21.99 charge. That would be way too easy. Instead, the mechanic comes in to talk to me in the lobby and explains that our car is currently at 59,500 miles. He recommends a whole slew of regular maintenance items that are recommended by Ford at 60,000 miles. To the tune of nearly $900.
My heart rate goes up and I swear my hands start perspiring. That is a LOT of money.
Many years ago, my husband used to work as a salesperson in an auto shop. Even though he didn’t do the mechanical work, he knows a good bit about cars. I call him up and let him speak directly to the mechanic. After their conversation I talk to my husband. He is a big proponent of taking good care of one’s car. Although most of the services aren’t immediate needs, he thinks everything should eventually be done. This kind of routine maintenance is what helps a car to last to 200,000+ miles (which is our hope – to drive this car to the ground!!!)
One other relevant tidbit I left out – the mechanic is a freemason. So is my husband. This may not mean anything to most of you, but freemasons are a very tight-knit group. They always deal fairly with each other. They would never ever rip each other off. Because of this, we had an extra layer of peace-of-mind that the mechanic wasn’t just trying to screw us over to make a commission on the work.
So I asked the mechanic to rank-order what needed to be done and to get started on the first several items. I wanted to spread the work out over a few months and there are a few things that my husband is going to do himself so we didn’t do everything that was recommended.
I waited anxiously, nervous of what the final bill would be.
When I finally went to pay, the mechanic, himself, came to the front to discount some of the labor charges (he took off about 20% total!). Our final bill came to $509. This does not include changing spark plugs and wires (which was estimated at about $200 and will be done probably in September or October since I want to wait a bit), nor does it include the air filter (which hubs can do himself for really cheap).
Out of our monthly car savings (a sub-account in my CapitalOne360 account), I had $260. The remaining of the bill was paid out of pocket. So, the remaining $249 remaining balance ($509-$260 = $249) is going to have to come from the “other” category of our budget (side note: I’m also including husband’s root canal in this category of our budget. Initially I’d said I was going to simply subtract it from our income – never including it in our budget at all – but Scooze pointed out how that doesn’t give us an accurate picture of our finances, which is important for projecting future expenses, etc.). Sooooo, we’re going to be really REALLY over-budget in our “other” category this month. Just a heads up.
This whole car maintenance thing also makes me worried about my husband’s work truck. You may remember me talking about how old and beat up it is. We were estimating that it would probably have to be replaced this winter (*gulp*). I’m at a loss for what to do. Start funneling more money into our car monthly savings (we’ve been saving $50/month previously)? Just stay the course and hope the truck continues to hold out?
The reason we thought we’d have to replace it in winter is that the past 2 winters it has given us problems with starting when it gets cold outside (making it unreliable in cold weather). It’s A/C has also been out for an entire year now (meaning, husband has been driving around in 110+ degree days with no A/C all summer). The estimated cost to fix the A/C is another $1,000 and husband replaced all the parts associated with the starter last year and still had problems, so no idea what that will cost. Right now no money has been going into it at all, aside from regular oil changes and gasoline (didn’t want to invest money into it when we thought we’d be replacing it soon).
Other pertinent information – Kelley Blue Book estimates its value at $3700 (not too shabby since we paid only $3,000 about four years ago). This could be “off” though, given the problems its having (no A/C in Tucson is kind of a deal-beaker for most buyers).
Why oh why is vehicle maintenance so expensive? And why oh why is everything breaking/falling apart at the same time? Is this a case of “you’ve done too well…now Murphey is coming to visit!!!!”????
Tips, suggestions, advice? What would you do?