It seems like my car might never see better days again. The check engine light went ON for the third time this year and my wretched mechanic was more than happy to see me (like a doctor is *happy* to see a patient - think $$). Here is the latest repair estimate:
In December 2006, I spent about $333 in repairs because the car was dying on me; later, in March 2007, I spent $268.93 for a brake job (original repair estimate was $687) and now this repair estimate for $612. Due to the nature of the current repairs, I don’t think there is an option to instruct the shop to “leave out the non-critical items” - although, I am wary of the oxygen sensor replacement - I have heard that most shops directly jump to oxygen sensor replacement (without a good reason) for any observable problems in RPM and fuel efficiency. So, I will get a second opinion (which will not be free) from another local shop before I approve any repairs.
This repair-monkey gets on my back after every few months and I am getting tired of it. Apart from the constant drain on my wallet, it’s a mental torture to be worried about car repairs every now and then.
Whenever the car starts giving trouble (which usually results in some massive repair estimate), I start contemplating about dumping this piece of junk and getting a newer, more reliable car. However, each time, I end up convincing myself in this way - “let’s see what happens after making this set of repairs, probably it will run a long time without giving any problems“. This must have happened at least 6~7 times in the last couple of years. After each repair, the car runs well for a few months, and then the story repeats itself.
[As an aside, it's like contemplating on selling a rapidly falling stock - one part of your brain says 'get rid of the stock before you incur more losses' and the other part says 'don't worry, wait on it and things will be back to normal'].
I know that even with all the repairs, it is cheaper (in terms of payments per month) to maintain the current car; however, I am beginning to wonder if the money saved is worth the lack-of-peace-of-mind. Plus, the current market value of the car is around $1800 ~ $2000, and it’s becoming difficult to convince myself to spend about $600+ for a given set of repairs, for that kind of a car.
On the lines of buying a newer car, I have started to ask myself whether it is better to lose money on repairs, or to lose it on depreciation? How is an old unreliable car, that costs $1200 to maintain every year (that’s my average expenditure on repairs for the last couple of years), better than a newer more reliable car that loses $1200 a year in depreciation?
Used car enthusiasts, any words of wisdom or experience to share?