Damn Car Problems


Black Belt
Founding Member
Oct 25, 2001
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College Park, MD, USA
Well, since this is the place for general talk about anything, I'm going to vent a bit. I'm basically over this stuff, but not beyond complaining about it for a while longer. :) Background: when my brother bought a car for himself in the fall, my parents signed over the one he was driving to me. It's a 1991 Plymouth Acclaim. A nice car, no real major problems, never in an accident, not beautiful, but it runs pretty well. The idea was that at least I'd have something to drive for the last year or two of grad school and after I graduated and got a better job with better pay I could buy a better car. So back in December we get everything up to nice working condition in NJ so I could drive it down here to Maryland. Cost something like $1500 for that, but my parents and maybe my brother covered that. That was the first real major output of money for that car. Unfortunately, there were more to come.

I got it down to Maryland and took it for a safety inspection. I found out that MD is extremely strict because they only test you once -- it cost me $800 to get it up to safety standards. I had to get the gear shift fixed (the pointer wasn't right on the letters), the parking brake fixed (it was missing teeth on the ratchet, God only knows how), the horn repaired (it wasn't loud enough), and the headlight assembly replaced (water had gotten into it and messed it up). This car is only worth about $700-$800 according to the Blue Book. A pain in the butt, but what can I do? It has to pass inspection. So I deal with all that, insurance, registration, blah blah blah. If you count all the other fees for the inspections, new license, registration, first insurance payment (because I couldn't register without insurance), etc. we're talking something like another $500 just for MD to be cool with it (and I have yet to do my emissions test, only $14 though). That's about $1300 from me and like $1500 from my parents before I took the car here -- nearing $3000 for a car that's only worth about $800.

Now, I go out to my car yesterday afternoon planning to pick up dinner instead of cooking and what do I see? My car radio has been stolen. :mad: Sometime between about 1am when I came home from a ballroom dance late Saturday night and about 5pm Sunday when I went out to the car, some SOB broke into my car via the front passenger side door, pried up the handle plate so he could pop the lock from the inside, then proceeded to rob me. He took the radio (which the mechanic back in NJ sold us for like $50), the cassette tape that was still in it (just a mix I made myself), and my little nickel/dime/quarter change holder from the cubby hole above the radio. I called the police and someone came to take notes and check things out. The officer said that the thief probably stole the radio in order to sell for drug money. Of course, it's unlikely that they'll find the radio or the thief, but they'll do what they have to. I have a case number and they told me they might call if anything turns up, but it doesn't seem likely. The lock still currently functions, but I need to get at least the door part repaired otherwise someone can use the existing break in point to rather easily get in again. I need a new car radio, too, but my parents already said they'd buy one and send it to me so I just have to pay for installation.

I got an estimate on the repairs this morning -- $500 for a full job, but $300 if I go for a cheaper paint job that may leave the door slightly off-color. Damn it! I've had the car for 4 freaking months and I've had to pay like $1300 to pass all the MD car law stuff and now at least $300 more to fix the door because some druggie decided to steal the cheap radio out of my beat up 11 year old car. :miffer: This car is causing more trouble and costing more in the last 5 months than the entire previous 9 years my parents had it back in NJ! *sigh* Needless to say I'm still kind of ticked about the theft of the radio, but a bit more because the guy didn't break into a newer car with more expensive stuff and because it's going to cost me a couple hundred dollars to repair this thief's handywork. Oh well, there's nothing I can do about it now. I just have to get the car fixed. Oh, it's not worth going through insurance either because I have a $250 deductible -- if the job's only $300 it's not worth asking insurance to pay $50 and risking a premium increase (though I'd hope they wouldn't given the circumstances). As I said, I'm pretty much over it, but I still feel like I need to complain some more. Once the car's fixed, I'm pretty sure I'll stop complaining. That should be within a couple days, I'd think. Anyway, thanks for listening if you read this all the way through.
That sucks! Well, after college you'll have a high-paying job and this will all be small change to you, right?
Don't worry... as soon as you graduate you'll probably leave the car to your brother and get a new one, right? :D


Well, yeah, the plan is that once I graduate and have my PhD I'll go on to get a much better paying job than my assistantship here. Grad students are traditionally underpaid (and often overworked as well) and we're no exception here. That's the problem. While these costs may not be a big deal in the long run, right now this kind of thing can be a significant drain on my paycheck. A fast estimate says about half of my pay is spent on food and housing (plus standard utilities) alone. Some more is spent on other bills like long distance phone and entertainment as well as the new car maintenance costs like gas. I try to save the rest, as much as I can. A big car repair bill can mean that no money goes into savings for some time.

I got a couple other estimates for repairs today. One place quoted about $370 for the basic job and it would take like 3-4 days. This is more than the same kind of thing at the first place. However, I tried another place and they said it would only be $125 and a same day job. The guy I talked to said basically because I've got this old beat up car, the other places don't really want to do it and they don't actually need to open up the door and work from inside like they said. He said it can all be done from the outside. I'm going to talk to my parents and see what they think. Interesting turn of events there.

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