Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Car Repair in a Bad Economy

No, I didn't hit a deer or break down on the highway.  My youngest son pointed out that my car had a bald tire.  That's never good.  It's never just a tire.  It's never just a tire and a realignment.  And it's never under $500.

We don't have an extra $500 in the sock drawer, but I have this weird thing about driving a car that could send me careening into oncoming traffic.  Very reluctantly, hubby and I went to our local good old boy tire shop to get the verdict.

Now I have no idea what this means, but the struts have to be replaced and I need two new tires.  Yes, it's expensive.  Can anyone loan me $600 until two weeks from never?  I'm good for it.  Why am I telling you this?  I know you aren't sending me the money.  Unless you really want to.

There is a point to this story bigger than my inability to eat for six weeks and here it is.  Hubby and I chatted with Steve, the owner of the tire place cause that's what we do here in rural Ohio.  He told us that several times a day people leave his shop with cars unsafe to drive.  They can't afford the repairs.  He told us about people driving off with steel poking through their tires.  Their shocks are shot.  The tire rods need replaced and this is dangerous because bad ones cause erratic steering.

Steve worries because he knows that his customers are driving their families in these cars.  They are also creating potential hazards to everyone else on the road.  One of his customers didn't even make it out of his lot before the tires folded up.  I'm trying with difficulty to picture this, but I do know that I don't want to be driving down the highway with one of these cars in front of me.

Things are really bad out here in the real world.  It's hard to see because people are still eating at restaurants and shopping at Walmart.  Reporters are telling us that jobs have been added this quarter.  Retailers are advertising for Christmas with images of happy, well-dressed people loaded down with their bargains for the family.  But in reality, people are choosing to not repair their cars or to not see the doctor because there is no money for it. 

Steve told us that everyone else in the car business has told him the same thing.  They worry about the ethics of letting people drive off in lethal weapons.  On the other hand, they worry that the government will force them someday to report these people.  If that happens, he will need to hire an armed guard to protect him from angry customers who need their cars to get to their minimum wage jobs.

Steve also pointed out that buying a good used car is very difficult right now.  People are not doing routine maintenance which means you could be buying a time bomb of repairs.  So you don't have the credit rating to buy a new car, and your used car options are slim.  I'm seeing a horse and carriage in my future.

Isn't it interesting that a trip to the tire store can turn into a discussion of the economy?  It's another indicator of where we are right now, and it isn't going to get better anytime soon.  There aren't any jobs being created in my neck of the woods. 

I've pretty much given up on flying...can't afford it...don't want to be patted down...worried that my pilot is making less money than my garbage man.  Now, I can worry about the cars racing toward me on our two lane country roads.  Will their tires fly off as we pass each other?  It reminds me of a home visit I made many years ago when I worked for hospice.  The patient told me that her husband was legally blind.  I didn't see him in the house and innocently asked where he was.  "He drove into town," she said.  I lingered there until he came home.

I'll try not to obsess.  I have to drive and agoraphobia is not in my future.  It just makes you think.  Maybe a little too much.  


  1. It's good to have you back and I hope you try to keep with it. Your posts always bring a smile to my face. I'll get that check in the mail to you on the second Tuesday of next week, so go ahead and set up the appointment.

  2. I prefer to tell myself those "can't afford the repairs people" drove straight from your Tire Guy's garage to a used car lot. Traded in. LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa....

  3. Oh, Scott. You are so generous. You could just send food.

    I don't think some of the cars would make it to the used car lot, Ms. Yogurt.

  4. Wait...we're buying a slightly used car this week. should I be worried??

  5. Well, Sheilah...was it owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sunday? If it has marijuana leaf stickers on the windows, I wouldn't assume that there were regular oil changes. Good luck!

  6. I bought a used VW 2005 and it runs very well. I couldn't afford anything fancy. My last car was very fancy by comparison but then after I bought my new used car, I gave my quickly deteriorating fancier car to a friend who was carless and near homeless who'd lost his job. Things are bad everywhere, Judy. It's just sad and horrible and I am renting my downstairs to a friend who is on unemployment. When that runs out, she'll have to move. I need the money.
    I'm glad you're still blogging. Thanks for stopping by and peaking your head 'round the corner. :-)


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