Thursday, June 9, 2011

To Fix (and fix and fix) or Buy?

So the Blazer is in wretched shape - even more so than usual. And Brad and I are 65-70% of the way to just getting rid of the thing and buying a different but much better (read:  much pricier) used vehicle with 4WD or AWD. 

The catch? We've never had a car payment, and I can't see how we can afford one at this point without much misery, esp. if we do have a baby anytime in the near future (fingers crossed . . . ).

As you might suspect, I don't make a whole lotta dough as a graduate teaching assistant. Brad makes pretty good money, but we've got a mortgage, his school loans, all the usual bills, and we pay about $550-$700 a month in gas from mid-August to mid-May. 

Yeah, I know - yikes! It's the cost of an apt. rental or a few hundred dollars less than a mortgage in these parts. On gas. When it isn't winter, he drives my Honda 120+ miles a day to work 5 days a week, and I drive his gas-guzzling crap show Blazer 2 or 3 days a week into the city, which takes 50 min. one way if I'm not in rush hour. Which I very frequently am. Then make that an hr. and 5 min. Not a ton of miles, but still a ton of time with the car on, eating up $3.69 a gallon (today's price).

Anyone who has shopped for a vehicle with 4WD or AWD recently can attest to the costliness, but it's not an option not to have it since Brad traverses really crappy, sometimes dangerous, and mountainous roads from December to mid-March. If we don't go with one of those options, we'd need something like our long lost Bonneville (read: totaled by Brad) with snow tires - and that thing only got 20 miles a gallon. 

We've toyed with ditching the super brat before, but always decided that paying the $200 or $350 or $500 was a better option than paying $300 a month. For 4 years. Or whatever it would be. Honestly, I can't even do an online loan calculator right now b/c I'm pms-ing (or pregnant, though I'm not holding my breath) and that means my freak-out mode switches on from something as silly as a stranger giving me an unfriendly look. 

Currently the B-lazer needs a lot of work. Like, a lot a lot. There are all kinds of, well, car-y things wrong with it - idler arm (?), pitman arm (?), some new humming noise, other things that I don't understand/know about/want to think about. And then there's the absurd bullcrap: 

1.  the driver's side door won't open from the inside and hasn't for 2 months.

     But you can't just put the window down and open it from the outside b/c

2.  the driver's side window hasn't worked in about 5 months. Nor has the passenger side window.

     So, to get out, you've got to put the back window down, slide the seat all the way back, reach out the window, and open the door from the outside. But that's not all. 

3.  As of last week, the side mirrors no longer adjust with the control. It just stopped working. 

I hate that car. I really do. But if a new-to-us (i.e., used) one costs $300 a month, that's $3600 a year. We've never spent that much on repairing the Blazer in 2 years. I'd guess that, in the 22 months we've had it, we've spent around but no more than $2000. Which is a lot, but also a lot less than $7200. (I just like to state the obvious.) 

Brad is convinced that we can swing the car payment without going nuts. Make a few cuts (there are, really, only a few that can be made b/c we are not super indulgers), suck it up, and it'll be fine. He's sick of the crap, sick of the stress, and sick of worrying about me breaking down on the Parkway. 

I'm sick of it, too. But the frugal and thrifty me has come out as usual, and even though I've announced to Shannon, Amanda, my mom, and Butcher in the last three days that we must get a new car, I'm teetering. And tottering. And altogether uncertain what's the best course of action.


  1. Why not just buy a horse? It’s cheaper than a car. Please, you get some benefit from the “exhaust pipes”, if you know what I mean!? Heck, you’ll have the greenest grass in your neighbourhood.

    All joking aside, you’re in a terrible situation. See if you can use the SUV as a trade in. Then, use that money to help finance your down-payment on a new one.

  2. Re: the horse: see my comment on horses in my most recent Friday 4 (haha).

    My dad estimates we'll get about null for trading in the Blazer. Sigh . . .