Automotive math

i once paid $75 for a dead guinea pig.  i suppose my current automotive situation could be worse…  The car isn’t quite dead.  Yet.
Here’s the tally from last weekend:
$60.00 to upgrade my auto club membership to cover ‘unlimited towing’.  It was either this, or pay $3.00 / mile for 60 miles of towing… Was fortunate that the auto club accepted a ‘same day’ membership upgrade, which saved me about $120.00 in towing charges.
$57.92 to pay for a tank of gas for my friend Vicky, who was to join us for skiing, but instead, offered to drive us home.  This saved Studly McRocklegs and me the fun of cuddling on the bench seat of the tow truck with a friendly truck driver for a little over an hour.
$20.00 tip for the tow truck driver, who did not drop my shit mobile from the back of his truck, despite an abundance of potholes along the way.
$697.32 to replace the timing chains, water pump, ignition coil and other assorted mechanical nuggets and hoses, which apparently caused a rather abrupt automotive aneurism in my ’95 Camry shortly after i exited the interstate highway.
Breakfast:  Studley kindly paid for breakfast for the three of us, after a rather pleasant trip home… Good company can make a world of difference in such circumstances.
What I would have spent skiing for the day:
$45 for lift ticket
$23 for ski/boot rental
$20 for lunch
$2.50 for ibuprofen, or other analgesics, always required after a day of throwing myself down a snow-covered hill.
What it would cost me to buy a replacement vehicle that doesn’t take a mechanical shit on the side of the road when i’m 65 miles from home and about 2 miles short of my ski destination:
$2,000 (minimum) down payment
$300/month for five years
$50 / month increase in auto insurance, as a non-shit mobile requires collision coverage
Someday, i’m going to have to nut-up and buy a fucking car that is less than 20 years old.  Today is apparently not that day… If it can stay operational for 3 months, i’m ahead of the game.  i cannot, however,  postpone this indefinitely.  i will attempt to blow that $100 skiing next weekend…

It’s 4:20 am.  Let’s see if it can get me to the airport for another 6:00 am flight…

30 thoughts on “Automotive math

  1. Look at it this way: even if they’re more fuel-efficient, the total energy cost of a new car is far higher than keeping a shitmobile running. Basically, you’re saving the planet.

  2. One of the primary reasons I stayed in New York for 20+ years is that during that entire stretch of time, I did not have to own a car. I’m not kidding about this. If I need to go somewhere, I rented. Otherwise, keeping a car in the city is a suicide mission. I grew up with cars that were time bombs. They could have fallen apart at any moment (and often did).

    • i lived in washington, dc for a year, and made it car-less 3 months before i had to have my own wheels. even to just drive the Shennandoah mountains to get away from the concrete, i wanted out…

  3. I think you need a Bitchin Camaro cue Dead Milkmen song… and i’m with UB, i wish i lived in a city with trains, it’s why i like Europe so much, with a bicycle and the trains you can get anywhere. Us Merkins are a dumb lot.

  4. My 15 year old Magna was in fine form until my son started borrowing it every five seconds. I now have only one side view mirror, a rear view mirror held on with masking tape, seats covered in unidentified food and drink spillages, an ashtray full of cigarettes, four dented fenders, no spare tyre……

  5. Yikes, honey. Cars. Who needs ’em.

    …oh wait.

    When you go for a new car? Go for a Civic. My ’98 has been from San Diego to the far end of Maine and back- almost 150,000 miles on it (I bought it with 13,000 in 2001), and has never needed anything more than routine maintenance. And it’s good in snow (considering it’s size). I adore her.

    However. My landlord’s daughter backed into her last night. Awesome.

    • my daughter is on her 2nd civic. she survived TWO crash-test – neither her fault. not only are they great cars, but they’re reasonably safe when crunched… the 2005 she’s got now has about 100,000 miles on it, and is going strong…

  6. YOu can’t go wrong with rice-burners. I had an 83 Honda Accord that only was retired from service in 1994 with over 200,000 miles because I put it into a ditch on its topside. This does not do the windows and body any good, I can tell you.

    Now I am driving a Prius and I love it. What am I saying? JIM is driving the Prius since he has the commute, and loving it. I am driving a 1988 Chevy half ton pickup with no air, no radio, 2 wheel drive and an asthmatic starting ritual that makes me fear for its longevity. I used to have a 68 Ford F150 with a Cleveland V8 which we stupidly sold for $150 to be used as a farm truck. I’d love to have that truck back and send it to be restored, which would mean that I could then be driving a gas-hogging classic that has a granny gear that can set off car alarms in parking lots simply by the low-frequency growl vibrating from the engine.

    God I miss that truck. It is baby blue, if you see it would you please send it home to mama?

    Yes, I am a Gemini with a double life and evil twin living within.

  7. Car trouble is the suckiest. My car is making weird noises (weirder than usual), so Von the car guy who works secretly on my car while holding down a real job at a truck place is coming by my office on Tues to check it out. I have a 92 RAV4. I’d love it beyond reason if I could only see out the back window. Other than that, it’s perfect.

    • it got me to the airport this morning. almost wish it hadn’t, as i am now stranded again in washington, dc… oy… i seriously need to curl up under my blanket at home with a box of saltines and beer until spring…

  8. Well, your math is much better than mine. I’m still in disbelief over spending the bucks I did on the Chevy 2500HD, only to have it mostly sit in the yard. Close to a year now and we’ve maybe put 3,000 km on it. Granted, it’s used, but still.

    The only sticking point for me on the whole shit mobile thing is that getting stranded bit. Wouldn’t have worked out very well for me had I had a stall out whilst driving myself to the hospital in the midst of a coronary.

    • it’s funny how familiar i’ve gotten with the local tow truck drivers… ‘stranded’ is a pain, but you get creative fast… i worry about cars dying when i take mom to the doc or when i head to the airport… unfortunately, it DIDN’T die this morning, leaving me stranded again in another motherfucking snowstorm.

  9. Oh. So much math.

    Every time I get the monthly bill ($399.71) for my car loan in the mail, I think of how it would be better spent on a flight to see my girlfriend. Damn cars and long-distance relationships.

    • my annual expenditures on cars is 1/3 of that – at worst. for some headaches and inconvenience, i end up with more cash for play-dates. and that’s generally where it goes!

  10. I was going to ask about the guinea pig too. I’ve got some spares if you’re paying that kind of money for them, though I appreciate the potential difficulties in postage.

    Cars. Pain in the arse. I’m getting a horse this year. Hay and oats cost a sight less than petrol and a half decent horse costs about $2000. Horse shoes are an expense but the insurance is laughable and covers third party, fire & theft and most vets’ bills.

    It’s a winner I tell you.

    • if i could commute by bicycle, i’d do it. there are advantages to city living – and public transportation is one of them. and in the country? a horse would be a fabulous option! i do love guinea piggies, but not for dinner!

  11. I really don’t think I”m a sucker, but I took my car in a couple weeks ago to have the trunk latch fixed. $1100 later, I came home with new brakes too. bastards!

    • there are advantages to an older car – repairs can be cheaper. but i’d say brakes are kinda important, and if someone tells me i need new ones? i’m not likely to argue. since we got rid of asbestos in brakes, they do tend to wear out more quickly…

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