Monday 172: The Cost of Transportation

By Coolcaesar at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0,

Monday, 14 March 2016

Last Thursday morning on the way to work I glanced at my dashboard.  Half a tank of gas, good!  When I got to work, I glanced again.  Full tank?  Huh?

And that is when I saw the heat indicator needle was pointing straight up.

Good thing I saw that . . . come Thursday night, J comes out to check the car out before I drive it home.  No coolant.  We head over to a local car parts store, buy three containers of fluid (in case we have to stop on the way home to refill) and a funnel.  We arrive home with the needle gauge calmly sitting in the cooler end of the spectrum.  WTF????

Tragedy strikes!

Friday and the car is back in the shop, yet again.  Diagnosis:  blown head gasket, with hydrocarbons escaping into the cooling system.

This car has about 148,000 miles on it.  Subarus are known to blow head gaskets at some point.  Jolly good!

Now, what do we do?  We have an extremely large diesel truck which is used for hauling and moving things; it’s a 1994 diesel that is of such a size that I cannot reach the pedals to step on the gas.  The other working car is a 2003 Acura, manual transmission, and I really do not like to drive it.  There is foggy tinting in the back, visibility overall is poor in my opinion.  I gripe about it all the time.  J is tired of my complaints – cannot blame him.

Necessities . . . ?

If we were really being frugal, we would sell our cars to afford a new one.  That isn’t going to happen.  Where we live, cars are a necessity, not a luxury.  If I were to use public transportation to and from work, I would probably never get there, or it would take about 3 hours to go 10.2 miles.  Given my shift hours, I probably would have to take a cab home, as public transportation doesn’t run very late.  A bike is out of the picture as the roads are extremely dangerous, and I am too old.

What we are not going to do is just dive into payments for a car.  We may have to do it, but we will do everything we can to make them as low as possible.  We may use the car as a trade in.  An employee at our mechanic’s has expressed an interest in buying and repairing it for a family member, so we may sell it.  We may decide to go ahead and get the head gasket fixed for $2500-4000, depending on what else is going on.  We may go for a rebuilt engine purchase and installation.  A friend of ours is a crazy car geek, and may have something we could buy that is in working, smogged condition for very little – the call is out to him.

On a practical note, the fixing of the car is very affordable.  But the question is, is it really worth it in that the car is so used . . . I have also had a very bad experience with another car – the second one I ever own – which blew its head gasket twice.  That experience has left me less than thrilled at the prospect of fixing it only to fix it again.  (And believe me, our mechanic is great!)

It’s the car which I see as a problem.  Our other commuter car is also a 2003 and has 140,000 miles on it as well . . . we have two old cars, and an old truck with a rebuilt engine.  Being a one-car family is not an option.

Time to think

Meanwhile, we have given ourselves 4 weeks to finalize our decision.

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