Car Shoppin’

Okay, folks. My car may or may not be beyond repair. I’m so sick of telling this story, but I’ll type it all again, for posterity’s sake.

A week or two ago, my “Check Engine” light came on. And in M’boro you can’t pass emissions if it’s on. So I went to AutoZone to have it checked out and they gave me the code…something about a misfiring cylinder or something. Dude said it was most likely a bad spark plug. I tried to get Mr. T to investigate, but he wasn’t comfortable doing that on his own. I have a cousin that is a mechanic, but I hate bugging him about car stuff. I figured that since it was most likely a bad spark plug, we could just take it to a repair place and have it fixed easy peasy. Well…$700 later I regretted that decision. They said a bunch of connectors and such were corroded (and they replaced all the spark plugs). Whatever – we need that car, so we paid it. I pick it up and start driving home…”CHECK ENGINE!” They guarantee their work, so Mr. T takes it back and they mess around with it all day and finally give us The News. One of our cylinders isn’t getting 100% compression – more like less than 50% what the others are getting. They think it may be some sort of valve lid or something that isn’t sealing properly. But wherever that is isn’t easy to get to, so they’re basically going to have to take our car apart. And that’s $800. Just to see if what they think it might be is what they think it is. If it is, we’d still have to pay for parts and for them to fix it. If it isn’t…we’re out $800 (plus the $700 from before). So we’re rescuing it from those crazies and taking it to a crazy that is related to us – my cousin. Once we get his opinion we have to make some decisions. Here are some options I’m mulling over:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
    I just keep driving ol’ Emily (my car) until she falls apart, saving up for a new car. How soon until she’s dead for good? Can I make more money off of her by trading her in/selling her now than if I wait until she’s over the hill? We’d have to fix her up good enough to get the Check Engine light to go away, and that may cost more than it’s worth. Not to mention we have to get new tags by the end of January.
  2. “New” Car
    Smithy’s grandmother has an Oldsmobile she’s going to try to sell for $1,000 or so. She has another car going for a little bit more – maybe $3-3500. I trust Smithy not to try to screw me over, because I know where he lives and will hurt him if he does. But I’m concerned about the long-lasting quality of a car that is selling for only $1,000. I’m going to need to drive this thing nearly 50 miles EVERY WORK DAY for as long as it takes to save up for a newer car (probably two-ish years).
  3. “NEW” Car
    I’m never going to buy a NEW car, but I could buy a “new” car in that it’s going to cost at least $10k. I have my concerns with doing this… We’re trying to pay off Mr. T’s final student loan. We’re set to have it paid off by the end of 2014, but that involves throwing $900 at it every month. We don’t have enough money to do that and also make a car payment (and Dave Ramsey would yell at us most severely if we took on more debt). But we don’t have enough money to do that and save up for a car, which is what Dave would prefer we do. And the only car we can afford with what we have saved now is the $1k car mentioned previously. We don’t have enough to even buy a $5k car without getting a loan. So is it worth it to pay more for a car now that is better and will last longer, but we have to take out a larger loan? Or should we buy the $1k car, not go into debt, but risk it breaking down within the next year or two and then pay for repairs? Or should we buy a $5k car and have a smaller loan that we can pay off faster and try to buy a nicer car in a few years, after this one goes kaput?
  4. Postponement
    Mr. T has his red Jeep that is in great shape, considering it’s from the 90s. He also has a less nice Jeep that has sat for a little over two years that is his “project car” – painted like the Ecto 1 and e’ertything. It’s mostly drive-able, but needs some TLC. So what he wants to do is have me drive the red Jeep and he drive the Ghostbusters Jeep until we save up for a car. My fear is that something will happen to the red Jeep and we’ll be boned. Then we’ll have like…a day…to find a new car. Whereas now we have some leeway. Maybe. Gah! I just don’t know what to do!!

Dragging Out Debt
I really, really, really want to get this student loan paid off! But I’m thinking we’re going to have to pull back on our payments on it no matter what ends up happening. There is a ticking clock in my head now – I don’t know when exactly it’s going to run out, but we need to have money for a car soon. So we’re either going to need to start saving for one or start making payments on one. Even if we go for one of the no-debt options (keeping my car or buying the $1k car), I doubt we’re going to be able to put $900 toward the current loan every month. We need to save for a car! I’m super bummed about this, but we can’t use up our entire emergency fund on car repairs. There could be a million other things that happen to us over the next couple years!

Now, for a slight more fun debate…if we do go with #3 and buy a “NEW” New car…what should we buy?

  1. Zoom, Zoom
    I’m leaning toward fuel-efficiency/fun over future practicality. Someone pointed out that my “dream car” wouldn’t be practical once we have kids. But I won’t be driving 2 kids and 2 dogs to work with me every day. And, let’s be realistic, Mr. T’s Jeep is from the 90s. By the time we start to get tight on space it’s probably going to need to be replaced, anyway. And since he has a (much, much) shorter commute, he can drive a larger, less fuel-efficient vehicle.

    1. Smart ForTwo
      omg I have loved these cars since I saw my very first one. A search on shows that there are six within 30 miles of me and the prices range from $8k to $15k. These are by far the least practical for family driving, since there is no back seat. But they get amazeballs good gas mileage. AND THEY’RE SO STINKING CUTE.
    2. MINI Cooper
      The same search has 17 within 30 miles, ranging from a little over $10k to the not-going-to-happen price of $25k. These do have back seats, but usually only two doors. But that’s better for emergencies if I need to put a car seat in or something.

So…what do you think? Do you have any other suggestions? If you don’t think I should get a ForTwo or MINI, what other suggestions do you have? Is there a way to do any of this without going into debt? Know anyone selling a car? HELP ME. lol!

2 thoughts on “Car Shoppin’

  1. Hondas and Toyotas are still the best bets for that price range. Even my glorified Honda is still trucking, with a few minor issues here and there. And the one major issue of no ABS, just regular brakes, because the computer is out ($1k, also IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND). Solution: pump brakes.
    And the Toyota truck my dad has is an absolute hoss–nothing will kill Jake, that badass. I’m convinced. Not quite what you need in a vehicle, but really, I loved that little silver truck.

    I think there’s gotta be a happy medium between affordable and forward- thinking. Your favorites I’m not sure fit either category. A ForTwo will NOT fit your canine friends. The Mini would. But Minis are actually owned by BMW now, AKA expensive to fix.

    • Ended up going with a Nissan Versa because my parents found one. lol! But I had a Honda Accord before my PT Cruiser and I loved that little car.

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