Drips Turn Into Rivers – Another Car Story

When this post was originally conceived, I thought I’d be writing about the importance of home maintenance. But when my car landed in the repair shop last night for yet another seemingly avoidable repair, I thought it apt to change topics.

We all know the importance of preventative maintenance – when it comes to health, assets, and everything else. But how many of us actually practice it?

Both of the following examples involve my aging car and the care I neglected to practice:

Example 1

About a year and a half ago, I noticed my air conditioning slowly failing, and eventually falling out of commission. On 90-degree Florida summer days, it wasn’t providing any relief in my black-interior car.

Meanwhile, I continued to run the A/C in the hopes that it was providing at least some cooling. At the time, I didn’t want to spend the money or the time to have it professionally checked and repaired.

The car finally alerted me it was time to pay attention. It did so with a loud explosion and plume of smoke while traveling at 80 miles per hour on an interstate, 200 miles from home and on our way to a training conference.

Thankfully, the temporary fix was nothing more than turning off the A/C. But the permanent fix (replacement of the entire compressor and A/C assembly) was not so easy, running almost $1,500.

Avoidable? I’ll never know. Delayable? Probably.

Example 2

My current predicament, which after getting my car this afternoon is thankfully over. About 4 months ago, I noticed problems with my main battery, including a major failure where I had to get the car jump-started.

Because it continued running, I hoped that I could put off the inevitable and ignore the problem for a little while longer.

My battery is (was) almost 9 years old. That’s like 120 in people-years. It was its time to go. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very good time for me as I struggled to get to work in the morning.

In the end, I finally got the car started and was able to drive it to the car repair shop.

I Paid for Urgency

I recently wrote about avoiding urgency when our lives are always in a hurry. Sometimes I wish I would take my own advice a little more often.

I had to pay for both repairs immediately – not repairing the A/C compressor would have caused the engine to fail, and not repairing the battery – well, I wouldn’t be able to drive the car off the lot. In either case, I wasn’t in much of a negotiating position.

Lessons Learned?

It’s important to take care of your assets. Preventative care is not only medicinal, but applies to everything else in life. In the words of Stephen Covey, there can only be so much “production” if we don’t take care of the “capacity for production.” We must feed the goose to keep getting golden eggs. We…okay, enough wisdoms, you get my point.

Set aside a monthly amount for car repair, health care, and anything else in your life that requires or should get regular maintenance. Then use the money (without guilt) no matter what.

Go get your spark plugs replaced. Get your annual check-up you haven’t been to in five. Buy flea medicine for your dog before she actually gets the fleas (but that’s a story for another day).

Don’t let the fear of spending money now back you into the requirement of spending more money now. It’s not fun.

4 thoughts on “Drips Turn Into Rivers – Another Car Story

  1. Pingback: Personal Finance Buzz
  2. I can relate to that. I had to change the break assembly and the clutch discs of my car only recently. Quite heavy on the pocket.

    1. My brakes and rotors also had to be replaced recently. 🙂 It’s amazing what car parts cost.

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