Friday, February 2, 2007

How Much Does A $600 Car Really Cost?


From when I started delivering pizza in the summer of 2004, I drove a 1998 Ford Escort. This was a great car for me, very dependable, good gas mileage, but over time it developed numerous things wrong with it. Recently the clutch has been slipping, and the brakes are badly worn. You can hear the metal-on-metal scraping each time you stop.

Along with those 2 major items, there is some bumper damage (my own fault), the A/C gave out this summer, the shocks & struts need replaced, the back-up lights malfunctioned and are disconnected, the dashboard lights (speedometer, etc) are out, the rear view mirror fell off, and there is a cassette stuck in the tape player.

To top it all off, in December when I went to have an e-check so that I could get my license plates, they refused to test it at all because the brake light is on. (The emergency brake is out).

It does have 215,000 miles, so I decided to replace it. Shopped around and found my Hyundai Excel listed on eBay for $500, with a Buy It Now for $1000. It was local, I test drove it, but then someone did the Buy It Now before I got a chance to bid.

That deal fell through so I made an offer and bought it (outside of eBay) for $600.

When I went to get license plates for it, it failed the e-check and I had to spend $700 at Monro to replace the entire exhaust system, everything from the catalytic converter on back. OUCH! But I think you have to expect for a car that cheap, something will probably go wrong soon.

With that taken care of, the car seemed to be a great little pizza wagon for me, up until the events of Wednesday night. Now it is back in the shop and Firestone says it will need a new ignition switch and cylinder, total cost of around $350.

I need this car running so we are having this fixed also, but we are quickly approaching the point where we stop putting more money into this car and cut our losses.

In the meantime, we visited the local Enterprise where the weekend rate is less than $20 per day. I'll be driving a PT Cruiser this weekend, including Super Bowl Sunday. Wish me luck!

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