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Car Repair Bill


As if we don’t have enough bills to worry about between our normal debts and the new tax debt, I’ve got another new bill to foot this month as well.

Remember when I wrote about my power steering suddenly going out without any advance warning (and in the absence of any collision or other obvious cause) while I was driving home from work?

Well, it’s been quite the inconvenience over the course of the last 2 weeks. It happened on a Tuesday night (2 weeks ago). It took probably 4 hours out of my day on Wednesday for me to sort everything out. I had the car towed to the dealership, arranged for a rental company to come pick me up and get into a rental, and then had to talk to the dealership about the repair issues.

In the end, the car had two separate issues. One was covered by the Ford dealership as a safety recall (this is what actually caused the power steering to go out), but there were some secondary issues covered by my extended warranty I had purchased.

The problem is, the extended warranty only covered a maximum of 7 days in a rental car and they had my car for a full 10 days to do the work. I was able to talk Ford into covering the other 3 days of my rental, but it wasn’t just easy-peasy, because I had to return my current rental and switch into a different rental (the Ford dealership said they would only cover Ford-brand rental vehicles). So the following Wednesday I spent probably another 4 hours dealing with the car drama. Dropping off the old rental, switching to a new rental, trying to arrange the first rental to be covered through my warranty (phone calls to them, phone calls to rental company), and to get my second rental covered through the dealership (phone calls to rental company, phone calls to Ford). Just a lot of busy-work that took a ton of time.

Last time I had work done through my extended warranty, they had only charged a $250 deductible, but this time they were trying to charge me $300. It took a couple phone calls to clear that up and, in the end, they agreed to come back down to the $250 price (the problem is that they only charge $250 if the work is done at the place where the warranty was purchased – from CarMax. But CarMax had a 3 week wait for them to even look at my car, so I had to go to the dealership because I couldn’t go that long without a car!! In the end, the warranty company did honor the $250 price).

BUT – while at the dealership, the service people called to say I needed new tires STAT! My husband has said the same thing and I’ve just been brushing it off, but then the service folks sent me pictures showing the threads in my tires and saying they could not allow me to drive it off without signing a waiver to remove any legal responsibility from them. I guess it was bad. Another $400 added to the bill.

Add tax, and our final bill came to $679.00.

If you think about the fact that we don’t have a car payment (we own the car outright!!!), it doesn’t seem too terrible. But on the back of all our other April-related bills I’m just like, GEEZE!! Cut it out, April!!! No more surprise charges for anything, mkay?!

Oh, and then here’s something fun. Remember how literally the month after I paid off the car this random little piece of it broke off while I was driving? I wrote about it here. It ended up costing a couple hundred bucks to fix. WELL, the same piece flew off the day after I got my car back from the dealership. It’s been over a year, so I don’t think it’s still under any warranty of any kind, but isn’t that just some crap!?? Last time I fixed it pretty quickly but this time I’m not in any big hurry. I’ll just deal with a piece of my car missing. Money is tight right now and we can’t just be shelling out hundreds of dollars for something cosmetic that doesn’t impact the actual functionality of the vehicle. It just sucks.

Man, oh man, I’m on the countdown for summer! For the first time ever, I’ll actually have a bit of a break from teaching. In the past, I’ve been teaching year-round for my part-time place so even if I’ve had a break from my full-time place, I’ve always had at least 2-3 classes from my part-time place still going strong. But not so this year. I’m leaving my part-time job at the end of the current semester (recall I had to sign a noncompete for my new raise to go into effect). I do teach one summer class for my full-time work place, but it doesn’t start until July. That means I’ve got a couple weeks in May and ALL of June “off” of teaching! OHMYGOSH I cannot even express my excitement! Don’t get me wrong, teaching is my passion. But my load the past 2 years has been so heavy that it’s been hard to keep up with my administrative responsibilities and there has never been a time where I’ve felt truly caught up and on top of things. I mean, I do my job. But I’m excited to be able to dedicate myself more fully toward some of the work-related projects I’ve just had on the backburner and to revamp some of my old course materials for the Fall. Plus, just a chance to catch my breath! I just cannot wait!

I’ve got so much more to share – summer plans, Easter-related stuff, fun/cheap things we’ve got up our sleeve. But the time is short so that must wait for another day.

Have you had any financial set-backs lately? When is the last time you had major car repair work done? Our last time was almost exactly a year ago, so I guess we were “due.” Ugh!


  • Reply kathryn |

    Just a heads up, I purchased tires through a dealership and found out a couple weeks later they were doing rebates on that certain brand of tire. No one told me when I purchased them, I had to find out from an email advertising current specials. Since then I’ve always noticed rebates offered for tires at dealerships, so you may want to check into that!
    My sleuthing lead me to an extra $100, in the form of a Visa gift card 🙂

  • Reply Jane |

    I feel your pain! My husband bought a truck not even a month ago, he took it in for an oil change, and $1,000 later we had to replace an axle. Not too happy about that unexpected expense. If it’s not one things, it’s another….hopefully no other expenses pop up for you guys!! I’m counting down until summer too. I second the tire rebate comment above!

  • Reply Walnut |

    Ugh. There isn’t a surprise style expense I loathe more than car repairs. Thank goodness you’re not looking at adding credit card debt on to pay for this surprise!

  • Reply Angie |

    I know you are hyperfocused and have great intentions. I admire your persistence and frugality. But a family making six figures should not be driving around with bare tires. That’s just a poor sense of priority. In the post you linked you even mentioned tires and that was well over year ago! So it’s definitely not a surprise expense. The fact that there were threads means you were driving on bare tires for a few months. Tires are so important to safety they are the link between the car and the road! You should be thankful you didn’t hydroplane or lose control in any rainstorms.

    I’m glad you have the money to pay for it. But I think after this tax debacle is over you really need to step back and take a hard look at your income, expenses, and savings. It seems you are doing a lot of pulling from peter to pay paul in the form of funneling money to loans that you don’t really have or should be saved for something else. I understand anonymity but we’ve never once seen an “income” post. Only debt and budget posts. And all of these always had tons of leeway and flux. This makes me think you have no idea how much money is actually coming in which means you have no way to know if your budget is balanced. To have a full grasp on your finances you need to understand the “Inflow” (income and taxes) of your money as well as the “Outflow” (spending and loans).

    • Reply Ashley |

      We only replace tires two at a time. The tires mentioned in last year’s post were replaced in October. This was a different set of tires.
      I used to share our income (in every budget post), but I’ve stopped because those posts literally took me nearly 3 hours to write so I couldn’t keep up with them. I prioritized debt posts (which also take a long time to write) given that it’s a get-out-of-debt blog. I will clarify that although we did make over 6-figures last year, that was the first year of our lives to do so. I think it’s an important distinction since it’s not like we’ve had this massive income forever. Also, our income is decreasing this year, given that hubs’ is back in school and I’m losing my part-time job. So income is very much in flux.
      Though I do agree that there needs to be some tightening up of the purse-strings. I’ve said so myself a handful of times. And I agree there’s definitely been some of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” That all definitely needs to get under control!

  • Reply Jackie |

    I just took my SUV in to be fixed. Paid $900 and the welding on the frame wouldn’t hold. The frame was too much and there was something seriously wrong with the front end. Although 2 different garages could find anything wrong with the front end. We think the subframe was gone on that too. Rust is a major issue in Maine with our hard winters. So after $900 spent we ended up having to buy another vehicle. Luckily I got a great deal and a nice safe vehicle, but it was very unexpected.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Ugh, that’s the worst!!! Especially after just putting nearly 1k into the vehicle!!!

  • Reply Jenna |

    my car guy called me when it was time to replace my tires and asked if I’d be willing to buy “used” – it seemed like an odd question – but he said he’d found me a great set classified as “less than three months old” at the wreckers. I was able to get them for ½ the price. when I saw them – they were NEW! seriously! I asked my mechanic about them, and he said if a tire has been installed on a car and then the person then changes their mind, they can no longer be sold as new.
    It was a great way to save a huge amount of money and get what I needed to make driving safe again!

    • Reply Jackie |

      We buy used tires all the time. One of the best ways to get tires in my opinion.

  • Reply Armando Smash |

    Same automobile April expenses here! I’ve put in about $2K on car service and maintenance the last month on my 2003 Mercedes. I’m also glad I bought it in cash used. Luckily it’s old age and no car note keeps everything in check if I divide the costs over the time I’ve had her. I am also thankfully i started saving $100 every month into a used car maintenance fund for my car to cover these “unplanned expenses.” I use an app called Fuelio on my phone track my gas mileage and expenses. For service, I recommend yelp to find local independent mechanics as opposed to stealerships and started buying my tires from tirerack.com. check out Edmunds.Com’s debt free car project series. I pulled a lot of great tips from it on my journey to be debt free! Happy driving from here on out!

  • Reply dh |

    Ashley do you still have savings? This might be a good time to use them, between the taxes and the car repair.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Yes and No???
      Buying the house really wiped us out. We do have $5500 in an emergency fund. I was planning to use it to get us rolling in cleaning up our tax debt, but that was when I thought/was hoping to have it paid in full by the deadline. Now that I’ve accepted there’s no way for us to pay the full tax burden, I might just keep the EF intact and cashflow the taxes.

  • Reply Angela L. |

    I’ve also had unplanned car expenses recently. Must be going around . . . I have a 2005 Prius and no car payment, so I accept there will be repairs that come up and unplanned expenses. But last fall I had to replace the muffler (original rusted out since I live in the Northeast) and last month I had to replace a headlight, which with oil change and tire rotation cost me $300! (They used a very specialized expensive headlight in this model. Even my trusted mechanic was floored when he remembered which style headlight it was, since that alone was $260.)

    With these recent repairs I decided to start tracking actual expenses associated with my driving to revisit the idea of getting rid of my car. I live in a city where I could go without one, but I’ve hung onto mine since I own it outright and I just lowered my insurance premiums. So it’s “felt” like I don’t pay much for my car. But I have a feeling that tracking my actual expenses this year will show me a different picture! Not sure what I’ll ultimately decide, but at least I’ll have more information to draw on. And, I’m lucky that I have this option. I’ve lived in other parts of the country where a car was necessary.

    Hope you have a respite from car related expenses for a while!

    • Reply Angie |

      Agreed. I have two paid off cars. But somehow with nothing major wrong I spent 2,800 on car maintenance (2 sets of tires, brakes, and 1x struts) in 2016 and 2,100 in 2015. Here I am thinking I’m doing awesome by driving 10 year old cars! We barely drive too and the second car is optional but not worth enough to sell it. <6k miles on one car and <2k on the other. Crazy…

    • Reply Ashley |

      This would be interesting to write a post on, perhaps. I have tracked all our vehicle expenses and since starting to use YNAB a couple years ago it’d be easy for me to pull these figures and really get a good idea of big picture spending on car maintenance, in general.

So, what do you think ?