This past week has been a nightmare for our family car. We call it “The Benz.” It’s actually just a 2001 Ford Focus. It’s black, beautiful, and majestic. Sometimes it breaks down.
All of our problems started with a violent shake when cruising down the highway, which turned into a stuttering engine at stoplights, and then the engine would only reluctantly start some of the time. Only after the car began to show rebellious behavior did I decide to take it to the shop. I probably should have taken it sooner.
One professional diagnosis later and I was staring at a $1,000.00 quote. Seriously. That’s almost 1/4 of what we paid for that hunk of junk.
Forgive me, “The Benz.” I only say that out of frustration.
They also told me I needed a fresh set of tires, which wasn’t included in the quote. At this point in time, we just don’t have that kind of money. What does a broke engineer do in a pickle? He fixes it himself! So I went to the shop, fired it up (after a few tries) and drove it home.
A Haynes manual is an invaluable tool for the average car owner. The Haynes manual holds information on how to diagnose, maintain, and replace every single part on your car. Need to change your oil? Look at the first chapter. Need to replace a head gasket? It’s there too. Need to know the torque on a specific bolt? There are tables for that. I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement, but I own a Haynes manual for both of our vehicles and I won’t even hesitate to get one for our next vehicle. Even if you don’t plan to do a complete engine overhaul, it will give you a leg up on automotive jargon and troubleshooting.
In the end, I spent an entire Saturday getting parts and tools and replacing the shocks on “The Benz”. Now she’s ridin’ high and no more vibration. In total, I spent about $400. I didn’t do all of the work they suggested (replace the front struts and do a front end alignment) and I did all of the labor myself. I also include the new tools in that total.
Maybe next time we’ll talk about the day my truck wouldn’t start and I towed it. And when we got it to the shop it started right up. And I still had to pay for the tow. And I still have to pay to replace the fuel pump.
Or maybe we’ll never talk about it again.