The great thing about having two cars that are fully paid off and have relatively low mileage is that we don't have a monthly car payment. The bad thing is that they still cost money. Both of our cars are in such a phase right now. We set aside some of our ‘tax refund' money for the car repair fund, and it's definitely in good use.
Still it doesn't make it any easier!
2007 Buick Rainier – 78,000 miles
This is my wife's car as well as what we use to tow around our RV trailer. It has a great engine that's run fine. But it's had two expected things come up and one potential gotcha.
- Brakes. I don't think it's ever needed a full brake job yet but I could tell that it was about time. The last checkup we had indicated that we were down in the 25-35% range, so when it started making grinding noises around corners, I knew it was time. Sure enough, the pads and the rotors needed replacement.
- Tires. We had the tires originally replaced around 35,000 miles, and at the last rotation, they told us they were near end of life. The tires were certified for 60,000 miles, but since we tow and do mostly non-highway driving except when towing, they have likely worn a little faster. Regardless, we'll end up getting a prorated reduction through Discount Tire on the mileage that the tires did not make it to. So, we'll essentially get one tire for ‘free'.
- Leak. The car started leaving puddles in a spot where I wasn't used to seeing. At first I had thought it might be a coolant leak since it was right under where the resivoior is, and it was a bit low, but the mechanic confirmed it was just water and likely a somewhat plugged drain hose. Crisis averted.
2006 Pontiac G6 – 68,000 miles
This is my car and it hasn't been as bad.
- Tires. This car also needed a second set of tires. They did two of them last fall and the other two over the winter. Again, the previous set didn't make it to the warranty period, probably again because it's mostly city driving. Luckily, we got about 35% off because of it.
Rims. The tire shop gave me some news during my last rotation. They told me that the tires were starting to get out of round. They have to recommend replacing them, but there's no way. Michigan roads are a potholed mess/ The mechanic agreed with me that if I were to get them done, they'd just experience the same problem. So long as they work, I'm keeping them. I just check pressure on a regular basis to make sure that they don't go past the point of no return.
- Leak. Different car, same issue. The car is leaking water, which is normal in the summer months. Still, it seems strange, because I'll find a puddle on the garage floor in the morning after it's been sitting for over 12 hours. It's definitely water, but I just need to keep an eye on this as it seems a bit…strange.
Hopefully we're at a lull for a bit. While the math works out that it's still much cheaper than paying monthly payments, it still hurts when everything runs so close together! I hope to get some time to rebuild the car repair fund back to a more solid level.