Cars Drool And Cash Rules

During the entire month of January, when Mr. MMM was across the country for work, I was at home filling his passenger side, rear tire up with air once a week. It had a nail in it, but I didn’t have time to deal with it with everything else I was taking care of during his absence. Ergo, I made sure to drive his car down to our local gas station every Saturday to pump in some glorious FREE air. But alas, every incredibly annoying act must come to an inevitable end. Conveniently, there is a local car garage right up the street from my place of employment. I recently drove it on in and told them I needed a tire repair. And then it happened.

The Exchange

I am pretty sure you can guess what I’m going to say. The mechanic met me in the lobby after examining the car and said, “Miss, I can plug it; but those tires are shot.” Now, I was definitely NOT planning on replacing tires that fine day. I stood there and went over my options.

  • I could have him go ahead and just plug the tire and be on my merry way.
  • I could have him replace just one tire.
  • I could have him replace 2 tires and put the new ones in the front.
  • I could bite the bullet and opt for replacing all 4 tires.

Hmm…what to do, I thought. I knew the tires were shot when I arrived at the shop. I was just hoping we could get along until inspection. No go. What I didn’t expect was such a blatant account of the shot-ness of the tires. It was just so in-my-face that I felt I couldn’t ignore it. There were 2 reasons I couldn’t ignore it.

1. I trust this garage and this particular mechanic.

2. The sole reason for us having this small, 4-wheel drive vehicle is to have a reliable car we can use during the winter months. Note: It is winter months. 

At that moment, repairing the tire seemed like the silliest of all options. Replacing just 1 tire came in at a close second – since it would wear unevenly. My best options were either replacing 2 tires and having the new ones put on the front, or biting the bullet and having all 4 tires installed.

I went with the latter of the options. After all, I was grappling with my family’s safety.

Related: Early Retirement Will Take A Little Longer If You’re Total DIKs

The Cost

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The culprit

Oh, the horror. The cost for 4 new tires with 70k mile tread was quoted to be $113/each/installed. Eek. I did not plan on spending $113/each/installed when I drove into the shop only minutes earlier. But, this is what you deal with when you own and operate motor vehicles. I went ahead and agreed to it.

Then IT happened again! The mechanic came back out to greet me and said, “Miss, I hate to tell you this but, your rear brake pads should really be replaced, too.” Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue or negotiate delaying the replacement of tires or brake pads. Both impose a serious safety risk. And let’s face it, nothing is worth more than the safety of those you love. Nothing. I agreed to also have the brake pads replaced. That would be another $150, thank you.

Related: Avoid Overspending By Following The Rule Of Half

The Payment

A few hours later, the car was ready for pick-up and payment. I walked right in and whipped out our debit card to the tune of $641. Yep. I drove in for a tire repair that probably would’ve cost me somewhere south of $20, and I walked out paying the better part of $1,000. Wow. Just, wow. Thankfully, we have funds set aside for situations just like this one. I paid cash and didn’t bat an eye.

This very thing happened just last month with one of our Mad Money Pups. We had an unexpected vet visit we needed to pay for at a moment’s notice. And again, we had the cash to cover it.

Being able to save enough money to cover unexpected repairs and maintenance is a big part of car ownership. It’s not always just about covering the monthly payment. This is something that needs to be considered when purchasing a new or new-to-you car. Cars are typically money pits unless, of course, you’re buying cars that appreciate in value. But since you’re reading this personal finance blog that focuses on frugality, I’m guess you might not be in that category. No worries, since you’re reading this personal finance blog, you actually might get there! Eventually. The beauty of having extra money for unexpected stuff ensures you will have a lack of concern when a mini emergency, like new tires, does strike.

Related: What We’re Teaching Our Little Girl About Money

The Lack Of Concern

Am I sweating? Do you see me sweating? Of course you don’t see me sweating, I’m behind a computer for goodness sake. But no, I am not and I was not sweating. I had absolutely zero concern when the mechanic asked for $641. It was money I was happy to pay for the good of my family. And, let’s not forget, by us having good tires and good brakes, I’m also keeping all you people safe out there, too! You’re welcome 🙂

What are your thoughts? Did I do the right thing? Are you prepared to handle an out-of-the-blue car repair emergency that could cost upwards of $1,000? How do you handle emergency savings and expenses such as these?

See also:

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Mad Money Cat doesn’t drive. No thumbs.

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  • HeatherLiz Feb 15, 2017, 11:51 pm

    I had a big bill this month too–for wisdom teeth extraction! Things like pipes, tires, and teeth are just never fun to spend money on (as opposed to traveling, for example…). But it is such a relief not to sweat those bills (though it still made me grumpy to see my savings pot diminished). That’s financial peace.

  • MustardSeedMoney Feb 15, 2017, 9:09 pm

    I don’t mess around with bad tires. The thought of a tire blowing out while driving 55 mph down the highway freaks me out. I definitely think you did the right thing for you and your family!!!

  • Claudia @ Two Cup House Feb 15, 2017, 7:59 pm

    This happened to us last year. We went in for one repair and ended up spending almost $2,000. Those are the moments when I’m grateful we have a little in our emergency fund, though we are working to build it up this year because that $2k can only get us so far!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 8:10 pm

      So true! In the last two months, between our dog and our car, we spent a grand on small emergencies. I hate shelling out cash for stuff like that, but I’m fortunate we have it sitting there to be shelled out. I know there are plenty of people who would really struggle, or even have to go into debt, for unexpected expenses like that. Phew.

  • Mrs Groovy Feb 15, 2017, 4:15 pm

    You totally did the right thing. Safety first. And you trust the mechanic which is important.

    We went through a similar situation recently with replacing 4 tires and the break pads, but not both at the same time. And we planned these expenses as we knew these were necessities. I can’t help but think of many of Mr. Money Mustache’s posts singing the praises of bicycle ownership, not car ownership. BUT, I’d still rather have a car.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 4:21 pm

      I would love to do the bike thing, but I work 15 mins away by car and there aren’t any safe roads to get me there on a bike. Oh well. The alternative is to drive as little as possible and prepare for expenses. Plus, I like having a heated ride in the winter 🙂

  • rilmanstuff Feb 15, 2017, 9:40 am

    I know how you feel. We have two cars, one good safe one and a clunker. For the family car I don’t bat an eye for safety items. My wife drives it most with the kids and it has to stay in good shape. The clunker on the other hand pains me deeply to spend a dime. I was in the tire predicament a few months ago and I was set for the repair on the shot tire. My wife had a different plan of which I had to admit was right. Needless to say, new tires are like butter for the first 500 miles. I do love them. Hate spending money on that car but sure glad it’s cash and it’s money set aside.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 10:54 am

      Yeah, that’s how we looked at the situation. And I must admit, riding around on those new tires is like floating on a cloud 🙂

  • Kate Feb 15, 2017, 9:33 am

    You did the right thing, especially since you knew the tires would need to be replaced soon anyway. At least this way it’s done and you don’t have to bring the car in yet again. Think of the time you saved 🙂

    This is timely, since I’m pretty sure I’ll need to replace my tires and brake pads at some point this year. And the timing belt is due soon too. Ugh. It’s just never ending with cars!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 10:55 am

      Thanks! I think it was the right decision, too. I wanted to wait until inspection, but it wasn’t due until the summer. They never would’ve made it that long. It really is a never ending battle with cars. At least it doesn’t have a payment attached to it, too. Thankfully, we knocked that one out years ago.

  • Ernie Feb 15, 2017, 7:06 am

    Emergencies…that’s why I’ve been focusing more on saving than paying off debt!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 7:32 am

      Yeah…emergencies, both big and small, happen. Period. It’s nice to have the savings for peace of mind.

    • rilmanstuff Feb 15, 2017, 9:44 am

      I have to say, we followed Dave Ramsey plan on $1000 dollar emergency fund and then debt snowball. $80,000 worth of debt gone and 7 years later. I am surprised at how few emergencies we had that we could not cover with that $1000. Make a plan that works for you but debt free is the best feeling ever. And if you decide you don’t like it you can always borrow money for something.

      • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 10:57 am

        True! Funny, I was listening to Dave Ramsey on the way into work this morning. I used to watch him on TV, but then we canceled cable. I found his podcast just the other day. We have had the same experience. It’s nice to have a larger emergency fund, but very few emergencies crest that $1,000 mark – I guess that’s why he suggests it. Congrats on annihilating $80k in debt! That is an awesome accomplishment!

  • Full Time Finance Feb 15, 2017, 7:01 am

    You made the right decision other then perhaps negotiating a cheaper package discount on the work. The amount doesn’t seem too high though, but I always negotiate on car repairs if I don’t do them myself.

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 7:32 am

      Ahhh! I didn’t even think of negotiating. I’m such a girl! 😛

  • Erik @ The Mastermind Within Feb 15, 2017, 6:09 am

    Hey MMM team… I had a similar situation with a leaky pipe. I opened up the ceiling and sure enough, the copper to PVC connection was done wrong originally and was loose. $450+ later and it’s fixed. Then I had a drywall guy come because it was in my kitchen and I’m not confident enough to make it look good. $290 later and everything is looking good…

    So about $750 bucks for a leaky pipe! I think you did the right thing, maintenance is horrible, but I think a flat tire or an accident caused by a failed part would be the worst!

    • Mad Money Monster Feb 15, 2017, 7:31 am

      Wow. $750 for a simple leaky pipe. Sure does feel good to have that money available! Yeah, I think I made the right call with the car. I hate giving up the money but it’s nice to know we can easily cover it.

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