Fearing Older Car Repair Bills

I recently had a bit of a scare with my beloved 2007 Honda Fit.  First let me start off by saying I love my car.  I bought it when it was only a year old and never regretted it.  It has been so trustworthy and even though it has 128,000 miles on it I have had very few problems.  That was until we started to notice water INSIDE the car.  Yup, that is not supposed to happen.  And it has been a rainy spring.  So when we kept noticing water collecting in the rear passenger foot wells I called to make an appointment.

When it comes to water related issues, whether it is with a car or even a house, it can sometime be hard to diagnose.  This is due to the fact that water runs.  So you could have a problem in one spot but the water runs to a different place making it hard to find the actual culprit.

Initially we thought the water issue was due to the after market roof rack we had purchased which had damaged the seal at the top of the doors.  It turned out to be a good thing that I had to wait over a week for my appointment as one day when driving around Mr. SFF noticed a sloshing sound.  Low and behold after a little searching, he realized there was water the in rear, hiding in the compartment with the spare tire.  We then deduced that it was more likely a leak in the rear hatch and that water had sloshed into the rear passenger foot wells when going down a hill.  We removed the spare tire, tire iron and jack and pumped out this water and then had another week to evaluate.  I guess it was a good thing that it was rainy all week as we we able to note which side the water was at least running from.  We didn’t know exactly where it originated but we had at the very least narrowed things down a little.

A small puddle formed in the spare tire compartment after rain overnight.

The “stream” of water coming from one side of the hatch.

I gave the tech at the dealership all of the info this morning when I dropped the car off.  He mentioned it can be hard to diagnose water related issues asked how many hours they should allocate to the problem.  As the car is 10 years old I didn’t want them spending all day searching for an issue, especially if there might not be a solution at the end of the day.  We agreed that after 2 hours he would give me a call if they hadn’t found an obvious source and then reevaluate the course of action.  I anxiously awaiting the phone call from them, hoping that it would be good news.  Thankfully just after lunch I received a call that the car was fixed.  WOOHOO!  They found it was a body seam above the rear hatch and it was fixed.  At a total cost of only $97!  With my coupon the total was only $87.  Boy, was that a relief!  Of course we will still monitor both the rear compartment and the passenger foot wells just to be sure it is actually fixed but my hope is that everything is all set.

The Alternatives…

Of course when you have a big potential issue, your mind can go to those dark places of the absolute worse case scenario.  What if they can’t find the source of the problem?  It’s not like I live in a desert, I need a water tight car and the thought of having to replace the car before I am ready was not a welcomed one.  As I evaluated my own psychology I could see how the average person might just say that maybe this is a sign that it is time to get something new(er).   But I am not one of those people.  I want to use my car at least for a few more years.  I want to replace it on my time frame when I am in control.  Not when I have to because there is a problem.

As I waited for the shuttle ride at the dealership this morning I walked around the showroom (a potentially dangerous activity).  Although I would always prefer to buy used it can be fun to look at the pretty shinny new ones.  The one in particular that intrigues me is the newer Honda HR-V crossover.  I love the functionality of my Fit and the reliability of Honda is just amazing but we would love our next car to have AWD so that we can ensure we will make it to the mountain even if we get a big snowstorm (my Fit has never failed us but when we hit FIRE we will go more often).  I don’t know a whole lot about the HR-V as it is a newer model but it does seem like a good fit for us.  The biggest problem though is that they just started making this car in 2016, meaning used ones are next to impossible to find (something I found when buying my Fit years ago as it had only been in production for a year).  And dropping over $26,000 for a new car just seems so wasteful when we have such big goals on the horizon.  Its funny how your thoughts change when you are on a journey like this, with such big goals.  Buying a new “fancy” car is no longer all that important.  Would a new car be nice?  Sure.  But it is not worth the sacrifice of our bigger goals and dreams.  That is the biggest difference between those of us seeking early retirement compared to the average person.  We are not willing to make this sacrifice.

IF the worse case scenario had come about we would likely not have gone the HR-V route.   We probably would have looked at a used Subaru as they will always get you to the mountain and can haul all of your stuff too.  And there are always plenty of used options out there so we could have found something in the $15,000-$20,000 price range.  Our gas mileage would go down and our insurance premiums would go up though and I really didn’t want these extra expenses right now.

I will say that at the very least this ordeal has reminded me to be thankful we are financially stable.  For many people having a large car repair bill or to have to replace a car unexpectedly can be extremely difficult.  For us it would have been a pain but we could paid a larger repair bill easily or even made a cash offer for a used car.

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