I drive a 2006 Pontiac G6. It only has about 60,000 miles on it, as I have a very short commute to and from work (about five miles total). I do some other driving on it, of course, but it's a low mileage car.
The downside is that although the mileage seems low, the fact that most of the driving is done on city streets, and not much on the highway, makes things wear out at earlier mileages than they often should.
I had a feeling that some repairs would be upcoming, but I didn't know that I would need three of them, all within the space of a week.
Squeak Turn Squeak
The first indication that something was wrong started a couple of weeks ago when I started noticing a small squeaking noise, primarily when I was making left hand turns. It started spreading to where a left hand turn would trigger it, but it would continue when going straight. So I knew it was getting worse.
My initial assessment told me that this type of thing is often a bad wheel bearing. I called around to a few places, and got quotes ranging from $300 – $550. I had work done in the past at the place with the lowest price, so I was fine with taking it there.
First Stop – $0
I dropped it off, and got a call a little later saying that they saw that I had bad tires on the front, and since many ‘noises' can originate from bad tires, they recommended that I get the tires replaced, as they needed to be replaced anyways, plus it might just be the source of my problems.
So, I went to pick the car up and scheduled a time at the tire shop. I'd had the tires replaced at around 30,000 miles, and they were supposed to last 60,000 miles. So, I knew that I would get partial credit on them but I had to go to the same shop. I knew that this bill was coming, as I'd had two tires replaced earlier in the year, and they told me that the other two had some life, but not much.
They replaced the tires.
Second Bill – Two Tires – $221
So I took it back to the original shop where they then were able to proceed. An hour or so after dropping it off, my phone buzzed and I knew it was bad when he said that the bearing was not the problem. He explained that I had bad tie rod ends and that they needed to be replaced, as well as the joints, plus it needed a front end alignment. He said I was probably noticing a vibration, which was true, but I had figured that was from the tires.
It wasn't. So I gave him the go ahead and he started work. When I went to pick it up, he showed me the old parts and how he was able to push on parts that should have no give. He said that if one failed, the car would lose steering control and usually the car would make a hard turn. Imagine driving down the road and jerking the wheel all the way to the left or right, and that's what could have happened.
Third Bill – Tie Rods, Joints, and Alignment – $830
I pulled out and almost immediately noticed…you guessed it, the squeaking noise. Turns out the tie rods were just something that they'd been lucky enough to find, but it still didn't address my problem. They were ‘surprised' as they had driven it after their repairs, but I'm guessing that they didn't make any left turns. I drove back and had the mechanic come with me to listen.
He said that it sounded like brakes.
After getting it back and looking, he confirmed that my rear brakes were indeed shot. In fact the pads were completely worn out. The squeaking was metal on metal from the pad plate hitting the rotor.
My father-in-law had done a brake job a couple of years prior, but at the time, only the fronts were needed. The mechanic said everything there was in great shape, but I definitely needed new pads and rotors in the back.
Fourth Bill – Brake Job – $226
So, that brings me to a grand total of $1,277 for three different repairs, all of which were necessary, but being so close together it really stung.
I trust the mechanic and have many other people around us that have used them, so I have no doubts as to their trustworthiness. I believe that they were all very necessary repairs.
All I know is that I hope that the car is happy now and doesn't require any repairs anytime soon. This has exhausted our car repair fund and now is short by about $500 just to get to $0. And ideally, I like it to have about $1,000, so I'm $1,5000 short right now. It's a good thing I didn't fall into the temptation of buying that new fridge a couple of weeks ago when there was a sale.
It's a bummer, but I still look at it that it's much cheaper than a car payment. Even with a $300 payment, that would have been just four months worth of payments. It's been a lot longer than that since I've had a repair bill on the car, so for now, it's still a winner to pay the repairs versus buying a new car.
But it doesn't make it sting any less!