Monday, May 23, 2011

Uh-Oh. We're HERE.

The Green Hornet and I have hit that point in our relationship.  "Buy and hold" car guys know what I mean... it's the point when one begins to weigh the cost of on-going maintenance against the cost of buying another vehicle.  I actually reached that point last year when I had my first Big Ticket repair bill, i.e., replacing the clutch.  Which wasn't as bad, dollar-wise, as our upcoming 60K mile service.  I'm getting the timing belt replaced as part of that routine service (almost exactly at the Mazda-recommended 60K mile point), replacing the shocks/struts, and various and sundry other things done as well... which may or may not include a brake job.  I'm not gonna tell ya what all that is gonna cost, Gentle Reader... it's sufficient to say I'm shaken and NOT stirred.

I received a gentle lecture from SN2 the other night about the cost of repairs at the dealership versus the all-around goodness of the DIY approach... what with SN2 being quite the car geek, complete with a well-appointed garage.  There was a point in time when I did minor maintenance myself, but that was a time when I too had a well-appointed garage with a large workbench, a hydraulic floor jack, jack stands, and the tools necessary to do this sorta work.  Times change, though, and I refuse to do this stuff in my driveway, not to mention the fact that all the foregoing support items went bye-bye in 1999's Great Goin' Out O' Bid'niz Sale.

So there's that.  It's also time for a new top; the old top only lasted ten and a half years and I'm sorely disappointed about that (heh).  Last year's stopgap re-sewing of M'Lady's bonnet worked well for nearly a year but now the rear window is starting to fall out and that cannot be repaired, beyond holding it in with duct tape... which is what I've been doin' for the better part of a month now.  So, we'll procure a new top and we are waiting for a call-back from the good folks at Craftmasters to see just how much THAT is gonna be.  We're also gonna get TGH's driver's seat reupholstered as the leather is cracking in two or three places, including an unsightly ten-inch crack in the seat's bottom cushion.  There's that, too, and it's all beginning to add up.  Still and even, we've decided to Git R Dun, as opposed to taking on a car payment.  I hope we're right.

Beer me!

Image from The Car Connection.


  1. Good choice to get TGH repaired.
    Even tho it will cost a wad of cash, you know it's been taken care of otherwise. Sure beats 72 "easy car payments"!!

  2. The Green Hornet will probably work for you for years to come. My Camry is still going strong, but sometimes the thrill of buying a new car is sure tempting.

  3. Buck, I'm a buy & hold guy, too. Man...just the thought of a car note makes me ill.

    And, as few miles as you put on a car, fixing TGH up good should take you far in to this decade pretty maintenance free.

    Good decision, IMHO.

  4. Ah I seem to be in the minority here. Last fall we reached this point with The Oracle's Jeep - a bad transmission (in a 4x4, no small thing) and a broken driver's seat ($1,500 minimum) lead us to consider the worth of the vehicle vs. the several thousands needed in repairs and attention.

    We opted for the car payment. New England winters are no friend and having a reliable 4x4 is essential when you live in the hinterlands as we do.

  5. Ed: It helps that I really LIKE that car. She's been very, very good to me.

    Lou: You're right on all counts, especially about new cars.

    Andy: Thanks... and I think you're spot-on, as well.

    Kris: This is a classic case of "whatever works for YOU."

  6. Sorry about that, I know that sucks. Late in Bessie's decline, the owner of the repair shop opened the latest brand-new work order on my behalf and said "there's a phrase to describe what you need to start thinking about: The macro-economics of the last dollar spent!" Actually, I think that was the one where the head gasket blew, and they called a couple hours later to quote me $2,500. At that point, I had to agree the time had come.

    If it's any encouragement, this was approaching ten years past the clutch replacement. That's a lotta road, especially when you add it all up. Hope this is just a temporary spike in the Hornet's maintenance excitement record.

  7. I think your smart to repair, especially if you like the car. Plus since you are replacing part like shocks/struts you can upgrade. I believe that a properly maintained car can easily see a million miles if one wanted that kind of use. Vehicles don't wear out, the parts do. Modern vehicles are so far superior starting say mid 90's and believe it or not just as easy to fix in most case's. Its the cost of parts and labor that kills you, but thats anouther topic.

  8. Buck, I just dropped a bundle on my old Jag's repairs, so I feel yore pain. But on that other front, I'm afraid that since the late '70s (basically when I could afford it) we've traded for a new main car approximately every 3 years. Maybe it's because I pushed around too many old wrecks when I was in my 20s and 30s. I know I don't like to worry about maintenance and I do truly enjoy cars, lots of them. I'm committed to one woman but when it comes to automobiles, I admit I'm a fickle old rake.

  9. Morgan: Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately, but you set some sort o' record with Bessie. I don't think I'll get NEAR the miles out o' TGH as you got out o' Bessie. TGH is in the rather unique position of possibly bein' the last car I'll ever own.

    Dan S: I think I might be downgrading on the shocks. I was told TGH had Bilsteins on it when I bought it (the top o' the line sport suspension option, with Torsen diff, yadda, yadda) and that's what I wanted to go with again. The parts guy at the Mazda store said the VIN indicated I only had the "sport suspension," one tick down on the option sheet. But then again, his info also said I have an automatic. Wrong! But we went with the "sport" option... Bilsteins are pretty pricey.

    D Dan: If I were independently wealthy I'd give Leno a run for his money in the car department. But I'm not... as a matter o' fact I lean to the cheap-ass side o' the equation... so I'm a buy and hold kinda guy. Unless I get burned. I had a SAAB once that I absolutely HATED and I only kept that car for three years. I traded it off as soon as it was paid for.

  10. Maybe it'll let me comment now. Sheesh.

    Yes. Very sad. The passing of an era.

  11. Moogie: Sad is what's happening to my checkbook. TGH lives on.

  12. I swear Blogger's haunted, or takiung a bad trip on acid. That comment was supposed to be on the Black Sheep Squadron post.

  13. Heh. I was wonderin'...

  14. Son #3 pulled the engine and transmission outta his 1998 Miata which led to a loss of my garage for 6 weeks. Now I'm the proud owner of an engine hoist, engine stand, compressor etc.
    What a mess but it all works after about everything was either replaced or machined to like new condition on engine and transmission along with new brakes.
    I'll give you a great deal on an engine hoist.

  15. wilko: It's good to have a garage, innit? I'll pass on the hoist, even tho it would make a great lawn ornament.


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