Picking up Nickels

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Driving a clunker is frugal, but emotionally draining

I bet we all know friends and neighbors that seem to be driving a new car every three years. While I would love to join them in their new car bliss, I try to keep driving my cars until they become unsafe or unreliable. My reason for doing this is simple: it is almost always cheaper to fix your existing car than to buy a new one (see Keep your old clunker or buy a new car?).

I drive an eight year old Nissan that I like a lot. It is reliable, fun to drive, and best of all it is 100% paid for. Until recently, this car has only required basic maintenance to keep it in top working condition. Unfortunately, that changed in July when my Check Engine light came on. Luckily, I was able to buy the parts and repair it myself, which was a frugal (and rewarding) way to address the problem.

All was well until my Check Engine light came on when I was driving home on Monday night. Based on the error code I pulled from the Engine Control Unit (ECU), I bought a new oxygen sensor for $70 and spent an hour installing it on Tuesday (hence no blog post) with the hope that it will fix my problem. I am happy to report that I am once again free of error codes!

The tough part is that my Nissan needs to pass a state emissions inspection next month. I admit that I'm worried another error code will pop up before then and I will be looking at an expensive repair bill to get it to pass inspection. Logically I know that it makes financial sense to keep repairing my old car, but I do miss the days when my Nissan was 100% worry free. That won't stop me from keeping my fingers crossed until I pass that damn inspection though.


  • You bet it's emotionally draining and sometimes extremely frustrating and dangerous (when it stops right in the middle of traffic)

    I have a '97 nissan that worked well till last year. Since then I must have spent about $900 for repairs !!

    By Blogger GolbGuru, at 10/19/06, 11:49 PM  

  • Interesting, maybe a broken down Nissan is the official car of the personal finance blog community... :)

    By Blogger Frugal Frugalson, at 10/20/06, 4:53 PM  

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