A Tale Of Two Drivers (Part 1)

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It’s been a long day. You’ve been at the office for 9 hours, absolutely killing it at your job, but at the end of the day, you just can’t wait to get home. You finally shut it down around 5:30pm, pack everything up and head out to your car.

It’s hot.

You open the door, the sun almost blinding you as you step outside. You instantly feel the heat. For a quick moment, all you can think about is ice cubes. As you adjust to the heat, you start heading to the parking lot toward your trusty, 304,000+ mile mid-nineties Honda. Most people that own these probably don’t have the luxury of air conditioning, but since you read iHeartBudgets.net on a regular basis, you’ve realized you can drive fancy cars and save a ton of money at the same time. Your car has ice cold A/C, and you look forward to getting in and driving home without sweating a hole through your work shirt.

It’s CRAZY hot.

You get inside the car, and you realize the one down side to owning a full-leather interior car. You nearly burn off your backside sitting down and quickly get the car started up. As a used car owner, you know the car well enough to rely on it starting day in and day out. You leave work and head home on the same commute path you always do.

The radio is BLASTING!

The sun is out. Why not turn it up and start rapping along with Iggy Azalia? You’re pretty much a gangsta and I’m assuming a rap career is in your future, so you might as well practice. “I’m SOOO Fancy!” And you are. You are fancy.

You click on the A/C.

You started sweating. You didn’t want to, but you were so busy with your music that you were performing for the traffic crowds that you forgot to turn on the A/C. Since it’s a mid 90’s Honda, the car seems to lose most of it’s horse power, but after a few minutes, you’re as cool as Santa in a freezer eating a snow cone. BOOM!

You see smoke.

You look out and see smoke coming from under you hood. “Oh crap!” You pull off at the nearest stop and shut off the engine right away. You see more smoke, it’s thin, so it’s probably isn’t a fire. But your temperature gauge is near the top, you know you’ve got a problem. You’re musical performance has ended and panic sets in as your mind races on what to do from here.

You have two options.

A Tale Of Two Drivers

At this point in the story, things have taken a turn for the worse. The sun is scorching, and so is your engine. Smoke is coming out of the engine bay and your hopes of getting home are dwindling. Now what?

Let’s look at how two different drivers handle this situation, and the impact it has on their bottom line and life in general.

Driver #1

“Seriously, WHY?!” Not only has today already been a long day at the office, but you still have a ton of stuff to do at the house. Had you just ignored Jake’s advice to avoid buying a new car, this problem would have NEVER happened, and you’d be almost home by now. Now you’re stuck on the side of the road with a stupid old car that you have to somehow figure out how to fix, wasting more money and time that you just don’t have. UGH!

You pop the hood, and there’s coolant everywhere. Great.

You pretend to look around the engine bay, but you’re mostly just annoyed. You call up your insurance company and arrange to have the car towed to the nearest shop. You have no idea what they are going to gouge you for this time, so you make sure it’s taken to an actual Honda dealership who really knows the car. FRICK THIS IS GOING TO SUCK!

Now you’re sweating.

You catch a ride with the tow truck driver who smells of transmission fluid. You have no idea what that smells like, but this guy must be covered in it. You call your family and tell them you have NO IDEA how late you are going to be and how you are ready to crush this stupid car into a metal cube. You go over the nightmare in your head of spending $2,000+ on fixing this stupid car. ICK!

The dealership service manager greets you with a smile.

Finally, someone who can help and do it with a good attitude. You tell him exactly what happened, express your hatred for “that stupid 20-year old hunk of crap” and tell him “just give it to me straight.” The service manager hands you a cup of coffee and lets you know it’ll be a few minutes while they diagnose the damage. You text back to the fam. “it’ll be a while” and let out a huge, frustrated sigh.

You gasp at the service quote.

“$3,400? For what?!!” The service manager goes into a big song and dance about how you possibly overheated the car and could have warped the head, meaning a top-end rebuild. Add that to the fact that most every hose is worn, your suspension is worn and the head and block probably need to be lathed and honed, it’s gunna be a helluva lot of labor.

You’ve given up.

“I can’t afford that. The car isn’t even worth half that!” The service manager sympathizes and lets you know that he can make it go away. They can accept is with a little bit of trade-in value toward a new car, and he’d save you $3,400. He introduces you to the nice salesman who walks you out to the car lot. It’s over.

You feel relieved.

All the headache and pain and stress of owning that stupid used car that Jake told you to buy is gone. Quickly and easily you sign the needed paperwork and drive off the lot in a reasonable, practical commuter with great financing. Never again will you be stranded and have to deal with that headache. Never again.

Stay tuned for Part #2 to see what Driver 2 does and the cost implications of both parties.

photo credit: Kai Brinker via photopin cc

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites. 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

5 thoughts on “A Tale Of Two Drivers (Part 1)”

  1. Hm. I want to try to guess before reading part 2. It seems that the salesman was listening to him when he started talking up how ready he was to part with his old car, and gave him the answer he was already kind of expecting.

    It also sounds like he was doing the barest minimum amount of maintenance, otherwise he would have either seen this coming or known something about what the mechanics would find.


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