On Monday my commute-to-work car worked just fine going to work in the morning. But when I jumped in it to come home, it seemed to take a long time to produce any cool air-conditioned air.
In fact, I was several miles down the road before I realized it wasn’t going to produce ANY cool air.
I called Carol from my cell phone and asked her to meet me at an auto air conditioning repair place. She did, and I left it with them to look at on Tuesday.
I figured probably a new (or rebuilt) compressor. At least $500-600. I told Carol that I wondered if the car was going to start “nickel and dime-ing us to death.” After all, it’s 9 years old and has 165,000 miles on it. And it’s just a little Mazda Protégé with a 4-cylider engine and a 5-speed manual transmission.
I was amazed the next day when the shop told me the problem was a $15 electrical relay! Of course, it cost $45 labor to replace that little relay, but still! Only $61.45, and now it’s putting out cold air! WOO-HOO!
Now, however, I figure that might have been the nickel.
Yesterday the car ran great all the way to work. But when I jumped in it to come home, it was hard to shift, and the clutch pedal felt funny when I pushed it. The further I drove, the harder it became to get the darn thing in and out of gear.
I called Carol from my cell phone and asked her to meet me at a car-repair shop. (Is this starting to sound familiar?)
I left the car for them to check out today and tell me the diagnosis. I figured a new clutch was in the offing, for about $300 parts and $500 labor.
Today they called me and said it needed a new master and slave cylinder. (I didn’t know that manual clutches got into bondage situations like that.) It turns out the total bill will be $400.
I figure this is the dime.
But on the positive side, if this repair gets me another couple of months of driving the paid-for air-conditioned (still necessary here in South Texas) vehicle, that’s cheaper than a couple of months of new car payments.
So I’ve had the nickel and the dime. Next probably comes the quarter or the dollar, and that will likely be the signal that it’s time to shop for a replacement.
(P.S. You’ll notice I didn’t mention the “C” even once in this post. I don’t EVEN want to get THAT started!)