In a rush to get to a meeting, I managed to bash Moose’s right side mirror into a garage side wall and blow the mirror off. Crap. That’s what happens when you have a large car, in a small garage, and do things in a hurry. This little accident cost $135 to fix and 30 minutes of time.
While I was at the dealer, I used the opportunity to ask several other questions regarding what’s wrong with Moose. For the past 12 months, there’s been a progressively louder rattling sound every time I drive, or slam the door shut. After a little inspection, the service agent said that it looks like my middle muffler connected to my catalytic converter is wearing out and needs changing. OK, good to know. “How much?”, I asked. The service agent said around $1,200-$1,500! YOWZA!
LET MOOSE LIVE OR DIE?
$1,200 to fix a muffler is ridiculous. The service agent agreed and recommend I just go to a muffler shop and have them replace just the middle portion. Parts plus labor will probably equal to $600 instead. OK, that’s somewhat more reasonable I guess. I certainly don’t want the muffler to fall off while I’m on my way to Tahoe when it’s dumping snow!
The issue is, Moose is an 11 year old SUV that is worth maybe $4,000. My main concern is operability and safety, hence the muffler should be fixed. In addition to the muffler problem, I’ve got three yellow lights on my dashboard that is indicating the traction control, ABS, and hill decent functions are out! The reality is all three functions are working, it’s just the switchboard fuse that is broken. I’ve tested all three and reconfirmed with a mechanic friend of mine. To fix the switchboard, that will probably cost another $1,200 bucks which is not worth it. Instead, I just got some black tap and stuck it around the dashboard glass to block the lights so I don’t see them! Finally, my brakes only have 30% left on them and will likely need replacing in 6 months. That’s another $600-700 that must be spent.
All in, I will have to spend a minimum of $600 (14% value of the car), and perhaps up to $2,500 (62% value of the car) to get things nice and good again. Oh yeah, I also got my DMV car registration renewal yesterday to the tune of $109. Adding everything up, it just doesn’t seem worth it…. or does it?
I’ve been thinking about buying a new car for the past couple of years. It’s just that every time I see a new model, I get bored of it in one year, which means spending tens of thousands of dollars on a car is not a good idea. When the BMW 335i coupe first came out in 2007 for $47,000 I was determined to have one. By the time 2008 rolled around I was bored because I saw the new Audi S5 coupe roll out for the similar price. And then I got over it because something better kept coming along. It’s a never ending cycle of desires.
It’s strange, but to cure my car-lust, I go to car dealerships. Sometimes, I just slide on into one of them babies and inhale the intoxicating new car small as I pretend she’s mine. Other times, thanks to very aggressive salespeople, I always respond “Oh, twist my arm and my nipples, OK!” when they ask me to go for a test drive. By the end of the session, I am so thrilled, that the desire to spend any money on a car dissipates!
So let’s say your car is dying, you are by nature a frugal person, but fulfill the important 1/10th rule and can pay cash for whatever car it is that you desire. Do you spend 20-62% of the value of the car ($500-$2,500) fixing it to a level which can last another 5 years? Or, do you spend perhaps 35-150X that amount and buy a new, safer, more reliable car which has a 4 year, worry-free warranty? OK fine, I could also spend $20-$30,000 and buy a cheaper car too, but then I’ll really get bored with the car after a year. By the way, don’t forget about higher car insurance, crying if you ding your new car, sobbing if your girlfriend or boyfriend dings your new car, and never feeling at ease when you park at the grocery store!
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Updated for 2016 and beyond. I ended up finally trading in Moose for a 2015 Honda Fit named Rhino! It costs $22 to fill up a tank of gas vs. $80 before.