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Posts tagged with: car repairs

Expensive Day!


Yesterday was an EXPENSIVE day, though not as bad as it could have been.

My car is a 2011 and, all in all, it has been pretty reliable. We’ve had some bad luck in the tire department in the past year, but (knock on wood), we’ve never had any major mechanical issues. All we need to do is regular, routine maintenance and the car has been great for us!

So when the brakes started squeaking a few weeks ago, I knew it would be time to replace them soon.

But life has been busy with work, school, and the holiday season approaching. I’ve kept putting it off, not wanting to spend the money. Then over the weekend, the brakes progressed from what I would describe as a “squeal” to what I would describe as a “grate.” It was truly an awful noise – the kind that hurts your ears, like nails on a chalkboard. I knew it was time to get in STAT!

I called around to a few shops to compare prices and went with a nearby shop that I trust. New brakes, rotors, fluid, and a serpentine belt later, my bill came to $643.28. Ouch! 

But never forget to Google for coupons! I’d taken my laptop and was working in the waiting room while my car was being serviced. As a last-minute thing, I decided to google coupons for the services I was receiving. And I stumbled across a 15% off coupon, good for all parts and service at the shop I was using!

When I went to pay, they scanned the coupon from my phone and my bill dropped to $549.11. BAM!

But it gets better still! The brakes I got came with a $50 online rebate. I had to wait 24-hours to enter my information, but I did so today and will be receiving a $50 rebate check in the mail in the next couple weeks.

That officially brings my total down to $499.11!

Still an expensive day, to be sure, but not nearly as bad as it could have been! And all because I was willing to do a little Google search to find applicable coupons while I waited.

No one wants to drop $500 on car repairs, especially around the holidays and at a time when we’re really not doing well financially. But to put things in perspective, $500 amounts to less than 2 months of the old car payment (I paid off the car in January 2016). Since we’ve owned the car an entire 2 years since then free-and-clear, a $500 investment here and there to keep the car in good running order is not too bad. I’m very grateful we no longer have that monthly payment in our list of bills!


Have you had any major car repairs lately? 

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!

Financial Ups and Downs


We already know that this month is tough – emotionally and financially!

Here are the latest happenings in this roller-coaster called life…

Good: I got called to do a campus visit interview for the job I recently talked about. It’s really kind of odd. They told me to pencil in 1-4 on a couple different days and they’d get back to let me know which day works for the committee. Very different than my other interview experiences where I’ve had a full day worth of meetings and activities, complete with detailed itinerary and dinner with faculty. I’m hoping this has more to do with the last-minute nature of this job posting and is not a red flag of a potentially low salary (no salary range was listed in the job posting, it just said DOE. I’m very nervous about a surprise super low salary offer, where we might be too far apart to even negotiate).

Bad: Hubs’ truck was making a super scary noise and not braking correctly so he took it into the shop. We were hoping brakes were the issue (they were recently replaced and are still under warranty), but nope. It was related to power steering (he told me more specifics, but I can’t recount the issues here because I’ve already forgotten the names of the leaking/broken parts). Price tag = $1350. Could not have come at a worse time.

Good: We had nearly $900 in our car repairs saving account! I’m going to pay for the repairs on a credit card so I can buy myself an extra month until it has to be paid (note: I still use the credit card for large purchases for the extra assurances and to earn some credit card rewards points, but I always pay it in full when the bill is due). I’ll be able to put $900 toward it from the money we already currently have and the other $450 will come from next month’s budget (since the bill won’t be due until next month). Wiping my brow, thankful we have that savings to cover the majority of the expense!

Bad: I cannot get my husband into the dentist. Cannot do it. Does anyone have any tips on this? From a logical perspective, he totally agrees he needs to go and should really have better oral hygiene – taking more preventative measures instead of waiting until things hit “crisis” level (aka: root canal) and being hit with a much larger bill. So – that’s not the issue. He “gets” it and he agrees. Part of the issue is work-related. Especially with the lower income he’s been drawing he really wants to focus 100% of his energy on work and not take time off for dental appointments. The other part is more psychological. He hates the dentist. I want him to go to a new dentist (an awesome local family-run office who has cut me deals for paying cash and works with me on price), but he refuses to get another dental x-ray. After his health scare in late 2013 when he had a million medical procedures performed, he’s very aversive to any additional procedures. He’s especially reluctant to have new x-rays done because he thinks he’s going to get cancer from all the exposure. He did try to call and have his dental x-rays transferred from his old office, but they send some file format that can’t be opened by the new dentist. The new dentist would even do it for FREE, so it’s really not a cost thing. It’s all about hubs’ fear of dentist/x-ray/dental work and his reluctance to take any time off work. Suggestions? I’m at a loss.

Good: We were officially accepted to a new preschool starting in mid-August! I will be very sad to leave the JCC. They truly have an incredible program! But I really like the new school too and I will LOVE the close proximity to our house and the lower cost! One caveat is it only operates during the school year (not year-round), so I may still enroll the girls in summer camp at the JCC next summer (which, of course, means summer months will be more costly for childcare since JCC costs more). I do like that as a possible compromise though.

What are some good (or bad) things that have impacted your finances lately?

Another big unexpected expense


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?