Unfortunately, losing an engine in the one car wasn’t the end of our car trouble. It was, by far, the worst of our car trouble, but, certainly not the end.
Because the engine in the other car was gone, we are down to just the one car. We’re carpooling. For people with office jobs, carpooling isn’t such a big deal. For us, it’s a bit of a problem. In order to do her job at her business, my wife needs a car to transport her clients as well as to meet her clients at their job sites or for job interviews. Not having a car is not an option for her. Because the company is still very young, they don’t have the financial ability to have a company car. Which means that they have to use their personal cars.
So, everyday, we have to coordinate my getting to work, the kids getting to daycare, and then the reverse of that at the end of the day. Still not a huge deal, right? Until you consider that my wife’s job isn’t just a 8-5 sort of job. As the owner of the business, there are meetings and things that she has to attend out of town, and after hours. Just in the first week that we were doing this, she’s had to be late to meetings so that she could leave long enough to pick up the kids, then me, and then drop us off at the curb in front of our house. An inconvenience at the least. Luckily, everyone has been pretty understanding so far. But, the longer we are without that second car, the more chance there is that she’ll have to be late to or miss a meeting with someone who won’t be so understanding. And if that happens, it means lost work for her and the company, which means lost revenue.
But, I’ve gotten off on a bit of tangent.
Because we have an increasing need to use the second car, we needed to put new tires on it. We’ve known that it would need the tires, but because it was the car that I was driving to work and back, it wasn’t a priority. I drive less than a mile total each day, so dealing with bad tires wasn’t a big deal. Now, with my wife driving the car every day and putting more mile on it in a day than I normally did in a month, the tires became a big deal. Especially in the dead of winter. So, new tires it was. A planned expense, but a rushed one that came before we were truly prepared to do it.
To finish it all off, the day after we put the new tires on the car, my wife came home to pick up a couple of things for a meeting she had later in the day. The neighbor across the street had a friend come and pick her up for an appointment, and, while backing out of the neighbors driveway, backed right into the side of the car. The better part of the drivers side door is now concave, and the drivers side mirror is shattered. Luckily, the other driver has insurance, so we’re hoping that it will pick up the damages. But, because the other car is in the shop until further notice, we’ll have to wait until it gets out to send the other one in for repairs. And we’ll be carpooling still. Just in the other car.
And that, my friends, is our January in cars. Here’s hoping for a less turbulent February. I’d say a less turbulent 2011, but I don’t want to jinx it…
photo credit: majcher
Sometimes, when it rains it pours. And January really was one of those months for our cars. In mid January, one of our cars wouldn’t start in the morning. Now, we live in North Dakota. A car not starting in the morning isn’t unheard of, and borders on common. Especially when the overnight low nears the -20 degree range. So, I wasn’t too worried about it, and figured it just needed a little warming up to get going again. Since we were expecting to get into the 20s that weekend, I just left it and tried it again when the temperatures warmed up.
As you can probably guess from the title, that didn’t work. So, my thoughts immediately go to the gas line. If the gas level gets low enough, the condensation in the tank can get into the gas and then freeze the line up so that the gas supply is either so low that the engine won’t run, or can stop the gas flow altogether. I ran to the gas station, grabbed a bottle of heet and dumped that in. When that didn’t work, I even went so far as to run an extension cord out to the car and use my wifes blow dryer to try and warm up the lines. Still, it would not start.
With anything like this, there is a point where you have to admit that you just don’t have the skills or the tools to do the job. If the line was frozen, it needed to be warmed, and I had exhausted my capabilities to do that. If we had a garage, I could have pushed it into the garage and let it warm up there, but we don’t have a garage. So, I had to have it towed to a mechanic. I don’t like doing that, but I have roadside assistance insurance so the tow is covered, and we do need the car to run.
Unfortunately, when the mechanic started running diagnostics on the car, they discovered a far worse reason that it wouldn’t start. They couldn’t get the engine to produce any compression. No compression, in an engine, means that the pistons are not moving. And if the pistons are not moving, that means there is something wrong with the engine. In the case of this car, the most likely culprit is that the timing chain broke. To add to the problem, the engine is what’s called an “interference engine”. Which means that it uses the interference created by the movement of the engine to help keep the engine moving. When an “interference engine” loses control by losing it’s timing chain, it basically runs amok. The pistons and lifters run however they please and start banging into the rest of the engine until parts start bending and breaking.
I know this because it’s already happened to this car once. Apparently, this particular model and year of car is pretty famous for it on the internet. The engine gets to about 69,000 miles and loses it’s timing chain, and, as a result, it’s engine. You’d think there would have been a recall at some point, but I guess it wasn’t a big enough problem. The first engine in the car blew at about 58,000 miles. We put in a used engine that already had 28,000 miles on it. The car is now at about 97,000 miles. If you do the math, that makes the second engine at about 67,000 miles. Right on schedule, I guess.
Depending on the severity of the damage, we either need a few new parts, or a whole new engine. And, until they tear the engine apart, they won’t know the damage. And, as luck would have it, the mechanic that I had tow the car doesn’t do engine work of that level. If it needs a battery, oil change, jump start, etc, they do it, but to get in and start replacing parts is more than they have the manpower or space for.
After making a few calls, I found a mechanic that specializes in engine work. Our options are to put a new to us used engine in the car, rebuild the engine (replace most of the old parts with new parts), or to put a whole new engine in the car. The mechanic was only able to find one used engine, but it has well over 100k miles on it already. But, it would only cost about $1700 to put it in. To rebuild the engine would cost about $3400. And a whole new engine would be about $4700. Did I mention that the cars value is only about $4500?
My wife and I have discussed it, and we’re a bit hesitant to put in a used engine into the car. We had the “should I sell my car or fix it” conversation as well, but it’ll be cheaper to just fix it. We’ve done the used engine bit once with the car already, and look where that got us. We’ve decided to have the engine rebuilt. It’ll cost twice as much, but we’re hoping that it will last quite a bit longer than the used engine might. We’re also hoping that we’ll be able to then keep the car that much longer. Also, the rebuilt engine would have an aftermarket timing chain to replace the one that broke, so shouldn’t have the same problem as the factory chain had.
The one bright spot is that we own our cars. We’re not making any payments on either, so we aren’t going to be hit with the double whammy of paying for a new engine on a car that we’re still paying payments on like we did the last time this happened. We may have to take a loan out on the car to pay for the engine, but it should still only be one payment. Hopefully.
The whole thing is going to be a major setback to our payoff plan. We had planned on using our tax refund to make a big dent in our debt snowball, but it now looks like it’s going to be put towards paying for the new (rebuilt) engine. I don’t like it, but the situation could be much worse. When the first engine blew, it was before we had started with any sort of financial plan. In fact, it was one of the larger contributing factors to our getting control of our finances. Now, it’s more of a setback and inconvenience than anything. It sucks, but we’ll get over it.
Unfortunately, that’s not the end of our January car troubles. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!
P.S. if you’re wondering, the car is a 2002 Oldsmobile Alero.
photo credit: fauxto_digit
On friday, I hosted a post from Squirrelers as part of a blog swap. It’s a pretty cool thing, where we pair up with others that are participating and then host our partners guest post on our blog. So, I hosted Squirrelers, and he hosted mine! It’s a great way to get some extra exposure with some people who wouldn’t normally read my stuff. Here’s a list of the other participants so you can read some of the great day-to-day money saving tips that were floating around on friday!
Jacob from My Personal Finance Journey shares tips about how he saves big money on food and beverages
at Saving Money On Food & Drinks at Happy Simple Living.
Derek from Life and My Finances shares his parents’ story and best lesson with Paying Off Your Debts Early at Retire By 40.
Joe from Retire by 40 saves money and improves his health by Learning How To Cook at Life And My Finances.
Eliza from Happy Simple Living shares easy ways to find and save money
with all of the gain and none of the pain at 7 Painless Ways to Save Money at My Personal Finance Journey.
Miss T. from Prairie Eco Thrifter Shares a Dozen Ways to Save Money Around the House over at Broke Professionals.
Squirrelers gives examples as to why eliminating bad and unnecessary habits can save you money every day at Beating
Beating Broke tells us why Conscientious spending is the best day-to-day saving method at Squirrelers.
Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff shared her Best Day to Day Money Saving Tip at Grow Rich Simply.
Evan shows us how accountability will lead to success with Accountability Will Lead to Success at Buck Inspire.
MoneyCone shares how he Saves on Printing after discovering his printer’s inky little
secret at The Saved Quarter.
Penny from The Saved Quarter shares her pro-tips on saving money while
shopping with Never Pay Full Price at MoneyCone
Melissa from Mom’s Plans shares how Bartering and Substitutions can reduce expenses at Narrow Bridge.
Buck Inspire discovered the money saving potential of Public Transportation at My Journey to Millions.
Eric shares how he keeps his eyes on everything to make sure his finances are in good shape at Mom’s Plan.
Melissa discusses efforts to avoid going back to work including bartering and substitutions at Narrow Bridge.’
Now, go read them and then get ready for the big game this afternoon!
Once again, I’d like to point the finger at those that send readers here. If you’re unfamiliar with any of them, I suggest you click through and give them a look. personaldividends.com yakezie.com thesavedquarter.com outofdebtagain.com aloysaskitchensink.com chitownblues.blogspot.com moolanomy.com maximizingmoney.com moneyville.ca moneyfunk.net A great list of sites. And some great resources for articles on personal finance! [...]
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The following is a guest post from Squirrelers, as a part of the 2nd Yakezie Blog Swap. The topic is “What is your best day-to-day money saving tip” Most of us who are personal finance bloggers and/or blog readers are interested in finding ways to save money. Over the years, we have been given advice [...]
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Happy Groundhogs Day everyone! Today’s the day! Good ol’ Puxi.. let’s just call him Phil, shall we? Good ol’ Phil is gonna come on up out of his hidey hole and do his annual weather forecast for us. Whether you believe in the Phils shadow or not, here’s 5 things that he’s not going to [...]
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Psych Yourself Rich, a book that I reviewed here not that long ago (my review, if you’re curious) is going to be free at amazon for the Kindle for a limited time. You can get the Kindle version right here: Psych Yourself Rich: Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life [...]
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Have you recently or are you planning on going through a debt settlement? A debt settlement can greatly benefit you, leaving you with lower payments and less debt. But did you know that a debt settlement affects your taxes? If you don’t completely understand how a debt settlement will affect your taxes, keep reading. DEBT [...]
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We all love the guilty pleasure of cooking a greasy meal from time to time – but the way we dispose of the evidence can be crucial in avoiding a pest infestation. Residents of Hull have been reminded of the importance of not putting their oils, fat and grease down the drain – a simple [...]
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Deciding on the amount of coverage you need is confusing during times of financial stress. So how do you approach your auto insurance when you need the coverage but have only so much to offer for monthly premium. The first thing you should determine is the amount of coverage you need. Do you go with [...]
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