Car Woes and New Car Advice

Over the past three weeks, I think I’ve dumped something like $600 into my car. That makes me want to cry.

First it was my brakes. The brake pads were literally worn through, and the mechanic was mystified that I was even able to stop my car. True story.

I think in all the years I’ve owned this car, (it’s 10 years old, I’ve owned it for seven) I’ve never once replaced the brake pads. Car maintenance fail?

So a few weeks ago, I forked over the money to get new brake pads. Figured that was better than accidentally slamming into the back of another car on the Beltway because I couldn’t stop.

Then Tuesday night when I was leaving a Terps basketball game watch, I noticed one of my tires was really, really low on air. So I took it in to get what I assumed was a slow-leaking flat repaired.

Wellllll turns out, I don’t have a flat tire. I have a cracked rim.

The guys at NTB were super nice about it and suggested a few places I could call to see about replacing it. I called the dealer first, knowing it would be most expensive, but thinking it might also be my quickest option.

Turns out jokes on me.

Ford stopped making the specific rim my car uses years ago. The worst part of that whole thing was that guy at the dealership was a complete asshole. I was obviously stressed out when I was on the phone with him and he didn’t show a bit of empathy. Instead he just rather rudely told me there was nothing he could do.

When I asked him what he suggested I do, he acted like that was the dumbest question he’s ever heard in his life, and his answer was, “Anything you do doesn’t involve me.”

Well thanks for that bud. Glad I’ve taken my car there for all major service I needed in the past four years.

After some frantic calls to my dad, emails to my cousins and g-chat and text convos with some friends, I found a place that can get the part I need and replace it next week, for a fairly reasonable amount of money. (At least as far as car repairs go).

Until then, I have the donut on my car and my driving is going to be very, very limited.

I’ve also officially made the decision that this is the last repair I pay for on this car. Time it cut my losses and start researching new ones.

So friends, what’s your car advice for me? I’m not picky. All I need is something that’s reliable, has great fuel economy and can get me from point A to point B. What should I look at? What should I avoid like the plague?


  1. Honda. I’ve had 4? different ones in the last 26 years (holy heck, I’m old LOL) and have had no problems. Minimal repairs, good gas mileage (well, except for my current Pilot, but I bought it for other reasons), just great all around cars. I don’t know much about their new little cars, but I would certainly put the Fit or the Civic on my try out list.
    Good luck. I hate car shopping, so we buy new and drive forever (seriously, we currently have a 1995 jeep, a 2002 Civic and a 2011 Pilot.)
    MCM Mama recently posted..Keep Calm and Foam RollMy Profile

  2. Not trying to be unsympathetic because, having driven my fair share of beater cars, I know how much it sucks to have to pour money into a car or have it leave you by the side of the road waiting for a hopefully-not-too-creepy tow truck driver to pick you up. But really – no brake pads in 7 years?? Yes, that’s a car maintenance failure. I have a 6 year old Honda and have done brake pads twice now. And each time, yes, it’s a couple hundred bucks. That’s part of owning a car.

    As a young single woman in a big city, I totally understand why you’re thinking of upgrading to a newer and more reliable car — there’s definitely a safety factor involved and you don’t want to be stranded somewhere in the middle of the night. But the $600 you sank into your car? That’s like 2 months, max, of a car payment on a new car. When you think of it like that, the $600 doesn’t seem so bad. Which is why I nursed a 15 year old Saab through years worth of random repairs — because whatever I was fixing was still a whole lot less than a new car payment would be. (To take this approach, though, it helps to have a friendly, honest mom-n-pop mechanic that you trust and who goes out of his way to help you out. The real trick is finding that guy….)

    Good luck in your car search. I second the recommendation for Honda (or Toyota) but having bought both brands as new cars in the last 10 years, I can definitely say that ALL cars, no matter what, require routine maintenance and they can ALL have random problems that leave you stranded. Heck, before it was 3 years old, my Honda was back to the dealer several times for random issues like the power steering pump failing and a recall on the transmission. Seems to be par for the course no matter what brand you go with these days.

    Good luck!

  3. I’ve have a 2003 Honda Accord that has 250,000 miles! I commute about an hour each way to work, and this car has never let me down! I just turned the keys over to my son, after purchasing a new 2013 Accord for myself. The dealership wants me to do a commercial for them, lol. I have found Honda to be extremely professional, but with a personal touch. The Accord is probably not the best gas mileage wise, but worth considering. Good luck!

  4. Old cars do start to nickle and dime you, but brand new cars aren’t necessarily a great investment either. Good luck sorting it out!
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  5. I have my own take on cars, and it isn’t very pretty. i wont’ bore you with it here. But yea maintenance is the worst. I won’t do it. Cars are a horrible investment and big waste of money.

    FIne I will bore you with it now. I hate cars. Typically I will buy cars that are 5-10 years old and pay $5k to $10k in cash for the car. I keep it for less than two years, then replace it. Right now I’m going to replace my car when the tax refund comes in. I paid $5k for it a couple of years ago, and I should be able to sell it for $4k-ish. I had to put $500 in maintenance over the 2 years i’ve had it, so my total cost of ownership will be about $1500. I’m going to replace it with another $5000 car. I’ve not had to make a car payment, ever. Keep it cheap, keep your total cost of ownership low, and don’t keep it for very long.

    People make me cringe paying $30,000 for a new car, putting another $10,000 in maintenance (new tires, replace a transmission, whatever) then sell it for $5k 10 years later. Their cost of ownership was $35,000 over 10 years, or $3500 per year. My cost of ownership is only $750 per year. It just seems like the smart thing to do. Feel free to message me on facebook or something if you want any more info or to discuss it further. Obviously it’s a subject that i’m very opinionated about.
    Carolina John recently posted..A day of eatingMy Profile

  6. I bought a new car when I first moved to PA…luckily my parents had just bought a car about a month before, so I got exactly what they got (minus the color). Honda Civic, which two of my friends bought as well. It did me well for the year that I had it (sold it to move to NYC), and I’ve heard it’s one of the more reliable cars out there.

    I don’t envy car shopping and I would definitely take someone with you! Some people I know are chronic leasers, which sometimes doesn’t sound like a bad idea since you can just take it back when problems occur. Like renting an apartment when you call your super/landlord.

    Good luck!
    Susan – Nurse on the Run recently posted..throwing myself repeatedly against a mountain, aka skiingMy Profile

  7. If you are going to buy used (which, in your case I would) – go with Japanese. Honda, Nissan, Toyota (or their luxury line Acura, Lexus, Infiniti). They have a high resale value and general maintenance is less.

    I also recommend finding an HONEST mechanic. Not the dealership. Not a place like Pep Boys/Goodyear — but someone who loves cars and treats them like they are their children. We finally found one and it has saved us SO much time and money – plus I don’t feel like I’m being scammed. Good luck – car shopping SUCKS.
    Michelle recently posted..Random Things ThursdayMy Profile

  8. We just went through the same thing with our Subaru. The bill was going to be $2k and that was just the start. We are getting a Prius V, but recommend any of their Prius line. Honda, Ford and Volkswagen all have hybrids worth looking at. Take a couple of test drives. When you select buy the car report from Consumer Reports ($15) and use their free car buying service. Pick 10-15 dealers and start emailing them. Do all negotiating via email. You can do it in a week. We got our last car in Salisbury. It was a 2.5 hour drive but a great deal. We are in the middle of that process again.

  9. I also have heard good things about Hondas. I drive a 2005 Nissan Altima that I purchased brand new. I’ve had minimal (knock on wood) repairs with my Nissan and have over 115,000 miles on it. It seems like everytime our savings account actually starts looking good one of our cars needs repaired so I know exactly how you feel. 🙂 My dad is always the first person I call too when my car starts acting funny.

  10. Jessica says:

    I would recommend a Honda CRV , all Hondas have a great trade in value and really good fuel economy. It is smaller than a van, but bigger than a civic. Which is something you want to consider because it is nice to have space and good gas mileage. They are relatively low maintenance. I would avoid Nissans in general because they are buggy and the dumbest things break.

  11. Car repairs can be costly as purchasing a new one. If you think you have to replace some parts, it’s better to get an opinion from an expert mechanic before actually paying for repairs. It’s also a way to avoid wasting your time, effort and money. I guess Honda CRV, BMW and Audi are ideal units for your needs. They have outstanding reviews on their performances, oil consumption and engine. I think they one of them will suit you best.
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