Update: Bad News/Tough Choices

If you haven't read the previous post yet--please do & then come back, so this makes sense.

Around 6 p.m. I got a call from the nice young mechanic who normally does the maintenance on my car. He opens with, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but. . ."

Well, that doesn't sound good at all.

He continues: "The third cylinder on the engine--it's gone." By way of further elaboration, he went on to say that there were just shards there, and the oil was just spraying into. . . nothing. (This means little to someone like me who can't do much more than change light bulbs on my car.)

"So," I ask, "what are my options--what can I do?"

Option 1: "Pull" the engine and rebuild what he called the "bottom part" which I'm guessing is where the third cylinder used to be.
Ballpark cost: $1,000-1,200.

Option 2: "Pull" the engine and rebuild the whole thing (or put a completely new one in? Is that the same thing?).
Ballpark cost: Add $750-1,000 to Option 1.

Option 3: Scrap the car.
Ballpark cost: The price of a new (or new to me) car.

The problems with Options 1 & 2 are that (a) I don't know who would do it, and (b) I don't know if the car would really drive the same afterwards. Also, I understand its value as a trade-in/resale will be affected adversely if we mess with the engine.

The problems with Option 3 are that (a) I don't have money to throw around for another car and (b) I'm not even sure I could swing any size car payment right now. I haven't started getting paid for my new job, so I'm not 100% sure what I'm bringing home every paycheck and where it's all going.

He said it was O.K. to leave the car there for a couple days so I could figure things out. My family and I give his station a lot of business so first off, it was nice of him to call me so late in the day--it had been really busy when I had come with my towed car around 11 a.m. I was too stunned and bummed out to ask him what he thought he'd do in my situation. I'll ask him tomorrow.

My mom is firmly in the "rebuild" camp, mostly for the reasons surrounding the Option 3 problems, but she tends to turn to the internet and just start typing words into a search box. She called to tell me she's found prices for new engines (what new engines? Who's doing this?) and it "looks expensive" (duh, everybody's out to make a buck online). I am dreading the next time I open my e-mail inbox. It took us a while to get her to use the internet; now, it's going to take a while for her to become a critical evaluator of search results and the information attached thereto.

I just advised her I'd rather not take advice from strangers--i.e., sites I don't know. I don't know if she gets that just yet.

She just keeps telling me not to stress out. Well, excuse me but how about a little empathy for someone who's in the middle of a brand new job--that she wasn't able to get to today--and was just told there's something seriously wrong with the car she's been driving for more than the past seven years? I know she's trying to be helpful, but bombarding me just stresses me out more. But I guess most moms don't show up at their kids' doors with chocolate martinis.

Or anything chocolate. But they should, don't you think?

At the very least, I'm relieved it wasn't anything I'd done to bring about this situation. The oil was full, the gas tank was full, I quit that late-night drag racing. (O.K., I made that last one up. I just needed to think of something funny for a moment.)

I just hope I do the right thing to fix the situation.


Mr. Bingley said…
Oy, cars. They are an unappreciated sinister life force, as they invariably pick the absolute worst time to smack you in the pookers.
maggie said…
SUCKALICIOUS! Sorry Kate. That's the lamest. Maybe your new job will be paying you in gold and diamonds and you'll be able to buy a new car quick!
Dave E. said…
"I quit that late-night drag racing."

I knew it! hahaha

That's a tough situation with the car. If it is otherwise in good condition, a complete rebuild or new engine is not an unreasonable way to go. I would not go halfway as in a partial rebuild, that's just asking for trouble down the road in my opinion. If you trust your mechanic then asking "what would you do?" is probably a good start.
Dave E. said…
Oh, and a quality rebuild should actually increase the trade-in value. Keep the documentation.
Lubna said…
Gosh, I can quite imagine the scene, waiting for the tow-truck to come as cars go whizzing by. Hope you can figure out what next, soon. Good luck with the car and have fun at the new job.
Lindsay said…
Well, being that I know so much about cars (they drive you from Point A to Point B; they carry stuff for you from Point A to Point B; they are expensive; they do not drive themselves; they have wheels; they can go fast--see? That's a lot), my suggestion is... uhm. Well, probably entirely unhelpful. This all really stinks. You know, these sort of things always happen at the most inopportune times. It's like one moment you're all, "Elatedness! I graduated, I got a new job and life is looking good!" Then this happens and you sort of want to go back and take away the happy gloating, because you just KNOW that you tempted fate and that's why it's happening. Or maybe you're not irrational like me and you realize that the two are not really in any way linked.

Hmm. Anyway, I do hope you figure something out. I'll say a prayer. Is there a patron saint for vehicles? Surely there must be. There's a patron saint for everything.
Dave E. said…
Lindsay-I think that would be St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. I remember a little statue of him, with a magnet in its base, that rode on the dashboard of the family car when I was a kid. Of course, said car also was a station wagon with wood panel decals, so it's pretty much ancient history.
Glad you have a ride, even if it is your mom's car.

I'd go with option 1 or 2, probably, as Dave says, the complete rebuild or new engine. $1200 is a lot of cash but you won't find a halfway decent car for that, so better to fix the one you have if it is otherwise OK.

Whatever you do will be all right.
Kate P said…
Bingley--You said it. Cars: Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.

Maggie--that's right, I'd like the universe to drop a bundle of cash in my lap. Please and thank you.

Dave--you got the joke! O.K., that's what I was thinking, that a partial rebuild was a little too tricky. I'm just not sure the moolah I'd put into a whole new engine would improve the value enough on a car that's now over 7 years old.

Lubna--welcome and thank you for commenting! Nice to see someone else who loves talking about books.

Lindsay--I did wonder at some point if this was a high/low sort of thing but mostly I worry that everything I touch will malfunction (including the hawt station wagon of my mom's). Dave is right about St. Christopher, although some people do dispute he actually existed. My late great-aunt had a figure of St. Michael on her dash, so maybe I should've had that to drive away the evil engine demons. :) I'm going to St. Jude & St. Rita for hopeless situations!!!

Laura--I am grateful for the opinions. I just keep wondering: will it be the same afterwards??? Can they cut me a deal if it was a factory defect??? I just don't know, y'know?

Popular Posts