On the way down to work, I was pondering how much I’ve spent on vehicles over the years. Now, in this, I didn’t want to count “generic maintenance” like oil changes, tires, alignments, and spark plugs. Actually, for all but two of my vehicles, I never did any sort of preventive maintenance on them. I bought them and drove them. When I first started out, I did experience a rash of flat tires, but I suspect that this is due to them being so well used when I got the car and me not replacing them. I also understand that insurance can be costly and changes from vehicle to vehicle. It also changes from driver to driver and gets relatively cheaper as I get older.
The first portion of this is ramblings, but later I get into story telling mode. Skip to the end to see my summary.
1997 – 1998:
These first three vehicles were provided to me by my family and were “hand me downs” from my sisters. I tried to get the order and years correct as much as possible. I won’t count these vehicles/years in my total.
- dinged it up and sold it
1998 – 1999:
red car from amanda
- died at breezewood intersection
- never died, forget what happened to it, probably sold
some white boat – $400 tagged
- think dad got it, then laura when I bought my next car.
- paid $350 for car + tags
- about $100 more getting it inspectable
- hit a dear near Christmas
- insurance cut a check for $500 — $50 gain
buick skyhawk – $600 tagged
- engine went out, replaced for $200
- engine went out again, replaced for $300 this time
- stopped working again, sat for a while
- bought a ford aerostar for ~$800
- transmission went out, junked it
- i got this while the skyhawk was down, but before the jeep
jeep cherokee – $500 + $100 tagged
- after several months of driving, engine went out
- drove my dad’s boat
- got engine replaced for $500
- skyhawk died around the same time as the jeep needed its engine replaced
I got skyhawk working again. My friend Curt helped me rip computers out of junkyards and we finally found one that worked.
Then, a friend was driving it and a piston rod broke in it. The car was junked after this.
For some reason, the Jeep was acting up again — electrical issues. I parked this at my parents and bought the Ford Probe off of my Dad for $500. Call it $600 to get tags transferred. I believe this happened in 2002.
While I was gone, my Dad took the Probe in and got it tuned up for me at some unknown price.
Let’s see. I spent a lot on this car. This was around the time that I was learning it was nicer to keep a vehicle running than to replace it. I really liked driving this car, and it only broke down on me once, toward the end of its life.
In 2004, the car would shake around 65mph and had an exhaust leak. On a recommendation, i took it to Lashlees and asked them to look at both issues. They charged me $400 for the exhaust work and when I asked about the suspension, they said “oh yeah, that’s really bad and could kill you. It will be $600 if you want us to fix that.”. I was furious because I would rather have had them fix the suspension issues than a noisy exhaust.
Faced with this, I was torn between spending more money on the Probe. At this point, i felt i already had too much into one vehicle, based on past experience. So I decided to spend $500 and bought a VW Fox from a friend of a friend.
About 3 months later, a wheel came off the Fox on the turnpike, nearly killing me. Instead of loose lug nuts, it was a loose axle nut. The force of this caused the suspension to get messed up, very similar to the issue the Probe had.
I was now out of money. I had spent my “car fixing money” on the Fox and was now worse off than before. I got the Fox towed to a friend/mechanic and parked in his yard. I was going to be deployed again in a few months and would use the money from that to get it fixed. Having no recourse, I continued driving the Probe. It gave me no issues as long as I watched the speed.
During my 2004-2005 deployment, the Fox got fixed for $100 and the Probe sat idly by.
I came home during a bit of leave to drive the Fox around and the linkage went out. I was stuck with 3rd and 4th gear. I also had a bad battery, which meant it would drain out a lot and need push/jump started. Disgusted, I parked it and made arrangements to get the Probe fixed.
After that, the Probe got $500 pumped into its suspension by the one mechanic and was ready for me when I got home. The Probe was now up to $1500. I traded the Fox in for a snowblower. The person I traded the Fox to got the linkage fixed, replaced the battery, and then rolled it into a ditch. That car was bad news all around. I had $600 into the Fox, but got about $50 worth of a snowblower out of it.
After two deployments, I had little money to work on my vehicle. I ran tires till they were bald, didn’t change the oil, etc. The car kept running, but did need some muffler parts replaced, and a bit more suspension work. In all, I put in about $200/year in various repairs during 2005 and 2007. At the end, the radiator hose blew out, which I had to replace. It turned out that the head gasket was bad and dumping coolant into the exhaust system (and exhause into the radiator system). I had $1900 into the Probe.
I parked the Probe and got my sister’s car for free, which she had got from Dad. We didn’t even do anything with the title. Later that year, I got a job and bought the Kia Sportage. Laura wanted nothing to do with the old car, so we got it junked.
In the meantime, in 2006 I bought a Jeep for $500 and put a new used engine in it for another $500. This was for the business. I put another $200 into it, discovered it had transmission problems, and drove it to a Junk yard and got $300 out of it.
I ended up selling the Probe for $500, which took my $1900 down to $1400.
2007 – 2010:
I bought a Kia Sportage for $3100 tagged. A few months later, the transmission went out of it and I ended up putting another thousand into it. After that, I didn’t have to do much to it for a while. In the summer of 2009 I experienced some issues with misfiring, which lead to a number of troubleshooting repairs. First I fixed a hole in the exhaust for $50, then spark plugs and wires and even a timing belt. I had a friend help me with all of this, so I had about $150 in this. The issue ultimately turned out to be a coil pack for another $55. Then things were good. I added some manual locking hubs for $150.
In the meantime (late 2009, we purchased an 89 BMW for $1100 tagged. I added a set of brakes for $10 and new struts for $120. I also paid $100 to a friend to help me get it fixed when it broke. $1330 into the BMW. This is used as a spare car.
In 2010, I started experiencing a rash of various issues with the Kia. The BMW came in usefule for these. The alternator went out, costing me $340 (got ripped off), the starter coil went out, costing me $90 (put it in with the help of a friend), the rear brake drum went out costing me $230 (garage/labor). Also in that mess, the other coil pack acted up an cost me another $60. I also had to g
et the rotors turned down for another $40. The problem was that each of these issues (except the rotors) was a show stopper and all happened within a three month period. So: 340+90+230+60+40=790. I have $5155 into the Kia for a 3 year period. This, by far, is my most expensive vehicle.
year vehicle cost average per month
1998 white boat $400.00
1998 calais -$50.00
2000 skyhawk $600.00
2001 ford areostar $800.00
2001 skyhawk repairs $500.00
2002 jeep cherokee $1,100.00
2002 ford probe $600.00
2003 deployed $0.00
2004 ford probe repairs $400.00
2004 vw fox $500.00
2004 vw fox repair $100.00
2005 vw fox trade -$50.00
2005 ford probe repairs $500.00
2005 ford probe repairs $200.00
2006 ford probe repairs $200.00
2006 jeep cherokee $1,000.00
2006 jeep repairs $200.00
2007 jeep junk -$300.00
2007 ford probe repairs $200.00
2007 ford probe sell -$500.00
2007 kia $3,100.00
2007 kia repair $1,000.00
2009 kia repair $405.00
2009 bmw $1,100.00
2010 bmw repair $230.00
2010 kia repair $790.00
13 years $13,025.00 $1,001.92 $83.49
Yes, in 13 years of purchasing and driving 9 vehicles, I spent about $13k in vehicles, or less than $85/month.