Ugh, car needs fixing

We have a 2002 Nissan Xterra, bought 3 years ago. Aside from regular oil changes and a set of new tires last year, we have not had to do any other extra maintenance on the vehicle. Last week though a light came on which said "Service Engine Soon." A quick reference to the manual told us it wasn't a serious issue (at least not serious enough to stop driving immediately) so Mr W made an appointment with Nissan to get the vehicle hooked up to the fancy computer at the dealer. We don't have a dealer in our town, so he had to drive 50kms to get there - not very convenient.

The computer tells us, $98 later, that we need two new sensors, an oxygen sensor, and a knock sensor. Both of these are affecting our fuel economy, and since Mr W has to go out in the field next week, we must get them fixed as soon as possible. Nissan quoted him $811 but he is going to start calling local mechanics this morning to see if we can get a cheaper price. I think we will, dealer mechanics tend to be very overpriced. For example, Mr W went online last night and found the parts we need, new, for half the price the dealer would charge us.

We don't really have any savings for the car aside from the EF. I know, I know, I am so focused on debt repayment that I have been ignoring these type of expenses which do come up every once in awhile. Partly, it was security knowing a newer vehicle requires less maintenance than an older vehicle. For example, I had an '84 VW van previously, that would randomly cost me $1,000-$1,500 once or twice a year (or more if I was not lucky) as things would break down.

I can't honestly say I am going to get better at saving for these type of expenses in the near term, it just means I have to find the money, take a temporary hit on the credit card (ugh!). However, in times of reduced baby budget times this summer I may have to be more vigilant in our saving for unexpected expenses.


  1. nancy (aka money coach) said... of the reasons I don't miss having a car (easy for me to say, living in downtown vancouver). Seriously: ugh. on your behalf.
    If it's of any worth to you, I started saving while I was still deep in debt. It stabilized my cash flow, and also, helped me feel like my entire financial situation wasn't entirely about debt.
    However, each person has to do what works and is most motivating, for them.
    Hope you guys find an UltraInexpensive mechanic.
    krystalatwork said...
    Agreed with Nancy. I don't miss my car at all. I never thought I'd be able to live without a car, but I've been car-free for 1.5 years now.

    You and Mr. W probably couldn't go car-less with the kinds of careers you have ...

    And like Nancy said, I too started saving as I was deep in debt. I only started with $50 or $100 every month, but it was something ... and by the time I got myself out of debt, I had a pretty nice little Emergency Fund already in place!
    Wooly Woman said...
    Yes Krystal and Nancy, unfortunately being without a car wouldn't work here in Duncan - I wish! Well it would, but of course it means giving up quite a bit living in a smaller town - visits with friends and family in other towns, and the wonderful outdoor recreation we do almost everyday. And dogs. Two big dogs who like to run drag us out, and this is when I do most of my driving.
    We have about $800 in savings, I am trying not to dip into the EF though, and save it for a situation where we really need the extra dollars. I contribute $50-100 a month to the EF right now. We should hear back from the new mechanic in an hour or so but he promised to save us money!!

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