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More Car Issues

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Gotta love all these car issues popping up (said dripping with sarcasm).

On Sunday night, hubs and I took the girls over to a friends’ for dinner. Everything was fine. We go over there and come back fine. Hubs needed access to the garage, so less than 5 minutes after we got home in our perfectly working vehicle, he went to get back in the car and move it out onto the driveway. When he did so, the car wouldn’t start.

This is the second time in 6 months that we’ve dealt with this type of issue.

Thanks to our awesome car insurance, we got the car towed for free to a nearby shop. They had it for a day and a half trying to diagnose it. They have checked everything under the sun and everything has tested normal. So the only possible issue, they say, is that the car must have a problem with the factory alarm. It needs to be taken directly to the dealer.

So I call the local Ford dealerships around town. And all are looking at a 2.5-3 week wait before the car will be seen. They say they prioritize non-working vehicles (like mine), but they cannot guarantee a faster turnaround. I’m just out of a car for that period of time.

There’s never a good time to be stranded without a car, but with the start of semester craziness, I feel like it’s a particularly BAD time to be out of a car. I got a loaner for the time being, but this is a serious problem. We need a vehicle that fits our whole family that we can use to reliably get to-from work and school.

I do NOT want a new car. We cannot afford a new car. We’re seriously buried under a mountain of debt.

But the old Ashley, at this point, would say “F it” and advocate going to look for a new-to-us car.  Our car is only 7 years old, but has over 130,000 miles on it. These issues that have been popping up on average 2-3 times per year (in which we have to take the car to the shop for multiple days and use a rental in the meantime) are incredibly stressful. Not having family around to help or having alternative transportation available is a big part of that stressor. We really need to have a reliable family vehicle to get us around and having this car die on us again just a few short months after it’s last major repair feels defeating. Like all the air flying out of a balloon. I’m barely keeping up with my tasks as it is. I don’t have time for this.

Sooooo, what do I do? Hubs and I can try to carpool as triage for a day or two, but that isn’t practical long-term. We have totally different schedules on campus and I rely on him to pick up the girls most days so if he’s stuck on campus with me, we’re stuck paying for after school childcare. Tucson is a smaller sized town. There’s really no alternative transportation in terms of busses, etc. that we can take from where we live.

Anyone have any tips about how to get low priced rental cars for longer term (e.g., 2-3 weeks)? What do we do?

Admittedly, this post is pretty knee-jerky. I just got the call from the shop about the car needing to be towed to the dealership, etc., so it’s all very fresh and I’m pretty stressed about the whole ordeal. I want to bitch and moan and buy a new car, but it’s not going to happen. The only solution I see is to pony up and pay for a long-term rental. Any other creative suggestions?

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28 Comments

  • Reply JayP |

    Yikes! 130,000 doesnt seem all that high these days. I’m shocked it may take 3 weeks for the dealer to work on your car. Is this just because its a very specific issue, or does everyone have to wait 3 weeks?! Maybe if you get it fixed the car will run well for a couple more years without major issues.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Apparently the 3-weeks wait is normal. It was the same last time I had an electrical issue, though at that time it was still covered under the extended warranty so they rushed it through because they were paying for my loaner car. Now I’m out of warranty and no one cares to rush anything along. We have 3 Ford dealerships in my vicinity and the wait time was comparable at each of them.

  • Reply jp |

    Yikes! if i recall, Tucson isn’t that large, and you are in the winter months (no 100+ temps). Can one of you ride a bike? One has child/car duty and the other rides a bike. Also, since you are on campus, check to see if there is a ride-share (or a bulletin board that you can ask about one)…someone has to be coming from your area. Also post to nextdoor. 130k miles on a car isn’t that bad nowadays…get it fixed.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Unfortunately, we live too far from campus to bike-ride. It’s about a 30-minute drive.

  • Reply margann34 |

    would you consider selling the SUV once it is fixed? If you could get a $5000-7000 out of it, you can go buy a used sedan for cash. A full sized sedan can comfortably fit 4 with room in the trunk for cargo. You would have to do a private sale on the suv and look for a good deal on the sedan. Just a thought! I feel for you! Seems like you have had a string of bad luck. I think you had mentioned taking the Dave Ramsey course at one point. I just recently starting listening to his show. I think I would really benefit you to follow his baby steps. Especially since you seem to be so overwhelmed by the weight of your debt. Perhaps following someone else’s plan will be easier than creating your own. Now he can be extreme on certain topics. But you NEED extreme! I think that just having a defined plan will really help lift you our of your depression/anxiety regarding finances. At the least, check out his book from the library.

    • Reply Ashley |

      This is what hubs and I have discussed. I’m a little worried because this is literally the third major electrical issue we’ve had on this vehicle in the past 2 years. It’s our first being out-of-warranty, so I’m nervous about the bill and nervous that similar issues will keep popping up. But even if we decide to get rid of it, we both think we need to bite the bullet and fix it first so we aren’t taken advantage of on the seller side of things.

  • Reply MV |

    Do you currently only have the one car? What happened to Hubs work truck? Not sure that would fit all 4 of you anyways.

  • Reply revdrmd |

    Are there public transit options in your city? If your vehicle is becoming so unreliable, you might want to add car rental insurance to your car insurance. It is not costly and helped me out before I was able to get a more reliable vehicle.

    • Reply Ashley |

      No public transit that comes to where we live. I’ll look into adding rental coverage – not a bad idea!

      • Reply Ashley |

        Update: no go on the rental. See here: If the insured buys Rental Reimbursement coverage, we will reimburse him or her for rental car charges incurred while the vehicle is being repaired after a covered accident.

        The insured can only buy Rental Reimbursement coverage if he or she buys Collision and Comprehensive.

        Rental Reimbursement coverage is limited to 30 days and subject to the maximum per day amount shown on the insured’s Declarations Page.

        Note: These definitions are intended only as a guideline. All terms and coverages are defined solely by the policy. Coverage limits, deductibles and certain exclusions may apply.

        No accident occurred. The vehicle just stopped working. Sooooo, no rental coverage.

  • Reply Carina |

    I can sympathize with your situation. We have a new vehicle having major issues, I’ve had it at the dealer several times and they refuse to turn the first wrench. We have positive equity, close to paying it off but what good is a paid off hunk of junk? We absolutely got a lemon and they will -not- acknowledge it at all. I’ve wrote letters, filed complaints, we’re at our wits end. The thing won’t start, transmission clunks and rattles. And we hate the thought at having to go find another vehicle. I too don’t have a lifestyle where public transportation would fit. So a vehicle is a necessity.

    With the issues your saying, I’d list the car for sale, try to sell it to a dealership, or trade for a used vehicle. We’re looking at selling ours back to the dealer, using one vehicle for a little while we save some for another vehicle along with our equity. Cars are headaches but there can be a few approaches in fixing the situation. Is your car still under warranty or are you having to pay for repairs? I have warranty but they will not acknowledge our issues so they won’t turn anything into warranty. Every vehicle will have issues at some point, they are never ending financial pits. But, I can completely sympathize with your situation. No you don’t want to take on anymore debt but some day you wake up and go enough is enough and you’ll start to find creative solutions to your problems one by one. Since your car is paid for, I would either get it fixed and ride it until the next problem, or sell it, use the cash to pay off some debts while using one vehicle for a while if that’s possible. If not, then use the car to buy a used older Toyota or Honda to get you by until you’re in a better predicament to slowly upgrade to something better.

    • Reply Ashley |

      UGH!!! I just hate the situation. I really like my car and it’s a nice car (2011 Ford Explorer – not luxury, but it’s got all the bells and whistles from the 2011 timeframe). I hate to have to sell and move DOWN in car. BUT that may be what happens. We are not under warranty, so we’ll have to pay for any repairs ourselves.

  • Reply anon |

    Is there anyone you can carpool with (not your husband?)
    Do you have rental car coverage on your insurance?

    Is this your SUV/large car? I totally sympathize with wanting a larger car when you have kids, but I also like the suggestion of selling the car and buying–with cash–a more reliable used car. Realistically, this could be only for a few years until your debt is back under control.

  • Reply Angie |

    You would think a college campus would have a ton of carpool opportunities posted on a bulletin board somewhere. And if your husband has to pick up the girls, could you Uber/Lyft home from time to time? What is the bus schedule? It may not be perfect but I have to assume busses come to a college campus… even if it gets you part way maybe hubs and the girls can swing by to pick you up. I did that with my husband for awhile.

  • Reply Jax |

    Is it too late for your husband to rearrange his class schedule to fit better with yours? Does your insurance cover a rental car for situations like this? Are there any families at the day care you can ask to help with getting the girls to and from? Maybe someone wouldn’t mind taking your girls a couple times a week and then when your car is back you can take their kiddos?

    Uber/Lyft seems like a decent option for you, and there are a few coupon codes out there to reduce the cost. I am unclear whether you have another working car or not. If you do, then maybe your husband can either take you or pick you up and you take Uber/Lyft the other way. That way he can have the car for picking the girls up.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Hubs day is not as long as mine, so he can’t rearrange it to be longer. He can stay here (on campus) longer with me, but then we end up paying before and after-care for our kids.
      Insurance only covers rental if there’s been an accident and the vehicle is being repaired from the accident (too late to get into an “accident”??? haha – I kid, I kid…)
      Most of my other mom friends at the same school also work full-time, so they just pay for before/after care. They wouldn’t be able to help with pick-up/drop-off.
      Uber might be an option we can look into for a short-term/triage type basis.

  • Reply Shanna |

    Same with Hope, you need to stick this one out, not time for another car unless it is LESS than the current car. We had that anti theft issue with a Ford years ago, if I recall once they finally diagnosed it, it was a simple fix. I hope that is the case.

    • Reply Ashley |

      Fingers crossed ours is also an easy fix. It was such a BIG deal to pay off our car and I’d wanted to keep it for years and years – likely until we’re totally debt-free aside from mortgage – before even thinking about a new car. The thought of selling it and moving DOWN in car makes me sick. Not like it’s the worst thing in the world, I just worked so hard to make it MINE (by working hard and paying it off early), I hate to dump it for something worse. Of course, no one has a crystal ball to see when the next electrical issue is coming either and they seem to have become a pattern here in the past couple years. Sigh. We’ll see…

  • Reply Carina |

    I completely understand not wanting to downgrade a vehicle because you’ve paid so much into this one but I also wouldn’t want to continue to dump loads of your money into electrical repairs. I don’t know the costs of these types of repairs but once you start shelling out $1k here and there that quickly adds up. On the other hand, you can’t guarantee that your next car would be problem free, new or used. My car is new and has major issues.

    I think this calls for a serious sit down and well thought out decision. Think about the pros and cons, think of your debt, think of what feels right and what feels stupid. If you get a “this feels stupid” vibe, then it most likely is. As soon as you make a big decision, something else will tend to mess up, that’s how it always happens. I think if you’re interested in keeping your vehicle and just repair the issues then do just that. Don’t stress over potential future issues that may never happen. Worry about them if and when they do happen. In my situation, when the car acts up I’m ready to drive it off a cliff, or give the keys back to the dealer, or trade it but then I calm down and focus on my bigger priorities right now and I’ll deal with the car once my other priorities are cleaned up.

  • Reply Kili |

    How far is your kids daycare/kindergarten/preschool from campus? Could hubs pick them up to avoid paying more for childcare, go to a park/library/running errands with them and then pick you up later?

    Also like suggested on hopes post: would a scooter for you be a solution for your going to and from campus needs?

    • Reply Jean |

      She said in an earlier response that it’s a 30 minute drive to campus, so I don’t think that a scooter would be a viable option.

  • Reply SCM1959 |

    You say this is the third electrical problem you have had with this car. I think it would be worth getting Ford Corporate involved. I had a 1999 Honday Odyssey, purchased brand new, that developed a problem under warranty and it was fixed. The same problem cropped up again under warranty and it was fixed. Then, just months out of warranty, here comes the problem again and this time it fried my transmission! I couldn’t believe it! I had paid so much $$$ for this van (actually paid sticker price because of the popularity of the Odyssey at the time) and I was facing a new transmission?????

    So I called and then wrote to Honda USA and included the receipts from the previous work, the sticker from my car, the sales contract … basically I just bombarded them with all of the paperwork from the day I drove the car off the lot.

    They came back and covered the new transmission, parts & labor (!), plus gave me several coupons for free oil changes, etc. to thank me for being a loyal Honda customer.

    It is worth a shot with Ford Corporate. My Dad used to say that the answer is always “No” if you do not ask.

    Good luck.

    SCM1959

    PS Another kind of wild thought … if you make the decision to sell this vehicle, I wonder if Ford would entertain swapping your vehicle out for a certified used car on their lot. Maybe a similar model????? Another question for Ford Corporate, I think!

  • Reply JayP |

    FYI we have a 2003 Explorer with all the options and it has been great for us with no major issues. The reason I bring it up is because you should be able to keep your car for many years, its probably just a minor thing, and if you get that fixed it should be ok. Funny side note, we did have an issue where the seat heat warmer wouldn’t go off once turned on, so we ended up with a lotta hot butts for some time til we finally got it off! At least you don’t have that working against ya! 🙂

  • Reply angie |

    I’m guessing it’s an alarm problem based on a quick Google search. Need to reprogram the alarm and check the wiring. I think you just need to light a fire under their butts to get to it quicker and fib a little if you have to. Pull the sick parent emergency card etc.

    When all the airbag recalls started the dealers told me there was like a 6+ month backlog. Lots of phonecalls being a hardass got me a new airbag in a few days right before a holiday weekend.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Oh no…that sucks! Do you have any friends that have an extra car you can borrow? Or a friend going on vacation?

So, what do you think ?