Adventures in Car Ownership

See what happens when I post about a "quiet week"? It inevitably means that a storm is on its way.

Sunday night, we were headed out to dinner, and started up the 2000 Camry. The car made a funny noise and smoke was evident out of the tailpipe. We quickly shut the car off. Josh did a little investigating and came away with a grim prognosis- the smoke out of the tailpipe combined with wetness around the engine valve pointed to a leaking seal or valve- the car was probably "burning oil" and needed to be taken into the shop, stat. Bright and early (or, to be more specific, "so Early it wasn't Bright yet") Monday morning, we took the poor little Camry to the dealership to get the problem "officially" diagnosed. After doing a "cold start test" yesterday morning, the word came in: Josh was right. Seals in the engine (and other stuff I don't remember) need to be replaced, resulting in most of an engine rebuild. The price? About half of what we could get if we sold the car on our own, and 70% of trade-in value.

So what to do? Do we fix it? or sell it in its current burning-oil condition and look for a replacement?

Buying a comparable car from a dealer with similar miles & a similar age comes out to more than we have in our emergency fund (well, practically, since we're not comfortable with TOTALLY depleting the emergency fund), so we'd either get an older & higher mileage vehicle, or a car loan- an option I'm opposed to. We do, however, have enough in our emergency fund to cover the repair. But the rule of thumb says to give up on a vehicle if the repair cost is more than half its value. We could go without a car for a while, which would win in the "net cost" category, when you do a car registration, maintenance, or car insurance comparison.

We made a decision. The Camry stays. We'll have it fixed. The mechanic at the dealership said the car was in amazing shape besides these problems, and that it will be "like new" when we get it back. Here's hoping he's right. Until next Monday or Tuesday, Josh is driving the Huge Truck, and I'm hoping gas prices don't shoot up for this week. If we had bought a comparable car, we would have spent lots more and ended up with a car with 95,000 miles on it and no idea where its been or how its been taken care of. This way, we'll know.

So what's new with you?

Once upon a time, I said cars were silly. I hold to my theory.


Daniel & Teresa said...

Yikes! It reminds me of the time the transmission died on Daniel's car on the way to Pennsylvania, after owning it less than 6 months. We got rid of it, as the car itself was very old.
I hope yours does come back as good as new and that you have no more problems with it! :)

yanigisawa said...

Do you have a lot of outstanding credit already? Or are you just generally opposed to buying anything on credit / loan? (or is there something I've missed regarding car loans?)

Alisse Goldsmith said...

I'm glad you're fixing the car. Did you think about taking it to another place for a second opinion? Matt and I always do - rates for labor around here can vary from $80-$150 an hour so it's good for us to shop around. Plus, once you get your car back it should last forever :)

Joanna said...

Alisse- Josh knows that the price we were quoted was reasonable. Also, he really wants the dealership to do this repair so that Toyota parts are used & the mechanics are familiar with the model.

James- We have no non-mortgage debt (we got rid of it the end of last summer!) and I'd like to keep it that way. I'm fairly opposed to buying things on credit. That's all.

The Farmer Files said...

LOL Hubs bought a 2000Camry from the Lemon Lot from Hickam AFB. It smoked like that and I started to call it the BatMobile. The dealership gave him more than he paid for it on the trade at the lemon lot and so he bought another car instead.

Joanna said...

Farmer Files- Good to know it's not just us! I think it's funny he got more in trade-in than he paid for it!

Kiel said...

I know how you feel. I've always bought used cars. And it seems like every time I make in investment in making it a better car, something big breaks down. With my last car, I had put in new speakers and four new tires... the transmission went ka-put not long after that.

I bought my 2004 Impala with the thought that if I bought a fairly new car, I wouldn't have as many problems... so far there haven't been any major glitches. But you're right, cars are silly. :-)

David Swindle said...

I think you guys made a sensible decision, Joanna. The Dave approves. Look forward to seeing you guys soon.


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