Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zen and the art of automotive maintenance

This is my car.

It is a 2002 Kia Spectra, and a damn good car it is. I love, love, LOVE my car. It has never let me down. I take excellent care of it. (NOTE: Not my ACTUAL car, but it looks EXACTLY like it, color, model, and all).

It also has over 134,000 miles on it. Yes, I know it's up there in mileage, but it still runs very, very well. I took it to my mechanic for a tune up a few weeks back and he said that it looked really good under the hood.

That having been said, when you have a car with as much mileage as mine, repair bills can be expensive.

Take this year, for instance. Back in March, I had to have the rear struts replaced. The weakness from the struts was causing the left rear tire to cup, and I had to get a new tire. That was a $450 bill.

Then at the end of last month I went in for an oil change and came out with a new alternator belt and a transmission flush--all on top of the new oil. That was a $350 bill.

Then three weeks ago I went in because my car was having trouble starting first thing in the morning. That, and the alternator belt kept squeaking. They readjusted the belt and then saw that my spark plugs were on the fritz. They replaced the spark plugs and did a fuel injection clean-out. That was a $225 bill. (Fortunately, the alternator belt was still under warranty, so that was free).

Two weeks ago, I went in because the belt was still squealing. They gave me a new one, tightened it up, and there's no more noise. Fortunately, it was under warranty, so it didn't cost me anything to fix.

And just today, I went to the dealer because, five weeks after the belt replacement, there was still chirping and the occasional screech. I called this morning, and he told me to bring it in today.

It was my first time at this particular dealership. I usually go to the one right by where I work, but it was more convenient for me to go to the one closer to my home for this appointment. He told me he'd check the belt, examine the alternator, and, because it was my first appointment there, give me a free 27-point safety inspection.

I arrived at 12:45. At 2:00, inspection completed, I was informed that the car was in great shape. The belts were tightened, and they found that a bolt was bent, which was what was likely causing the tweeting and squeaking.


My front brakes were on the fritz. They said I only had about ten percent of them left. I gave them the OK to fix them. They added that I needed new wipers. I told them to put them on as well.

Soooo...$340 later, I have new brakes, new wipers, and a new customer loyalty card. I earn $1 for every $20 I spend. I can use the money towards future repairs.

AND...I also got a coupon for a FREE car wash. :)

So, brakes and belts tightened, and wallet MUCH lighter, I took my car to the spa for a nice, soapy bath. So now it looks good and feels good.

Yes, the car is costing me beaucoup bucks lately, and the money I've spent on repair would have contributed nicely to a down payment, but I'd rather make the necessary repairs into my investment than deal with a car payment right now. Besides, I have no choice. Car loans are hard for a lot of people to obtain now.

I will admit that I am attached to my wheels. Kia and I have never been on major road trips, but she has served me well over the years and has been a good little car. I can't ask for more than that.


Grand Pooba said...

Well at least you take care of your car! My husband always gets after me because I forget to change the oil and I never wash it. I just hate spending money on a car! I guess there's no connection there like you and yours!

Mimi Lenox said...

I think it's time for a new car. Seriously! But I get how you hate car payments. So. do. I.

drollgirl said...

that is one good little car you have there!!!

it is such a dilemma whether to keep an old car or get a new one. but car payments are so horrid! and they go on for YEARS. i bought a honda 2.5 years ago, and paid it off in two years. and oh how i wish i had been eligible for that $4500 trade in for clunker money everyone is talking about. THAT sure would have been nice.

grumble grumble.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If you can keep it going, that's better than car payments. We are two months away from paying off my 2005 Tribute, which has 114,000 miles on it, and it will be so nice not to spend that $300 a month! Outside of a sensor issue, I've not had any problems with it, either.

L. Diane Wolfe

Anonymous said...

I know, it gets to a point where the cost of maintaining an older car becomes so expensive. That's why I finally got my current car...but yes, it did add in a car payment each month.

Jodi said...

Take it from me...keep the car. I had a 2002 Toyota Corolla. It had about 140K on it. The engine light went on. What did scaredy cat do? She turns it in and gets a new 2007 Toyota Corolla 2yrs ago. What a stupid move I made. I could have fixed whatever problem the original car had. It could have been a faulty switch for all I knew. Now, I'm stuck paying a monthly car loan. I've paid 2yrs on it but have 3 to go. Being on unemployment and paying for this car is a struggle.

You are very kind to Kia!! She will love you back!

Jenners said...

I'm with you ... treat your car right and go as long as you can without a car payment!! Sounds like she is treating you just fine!