So we moved to the greatness of Northern Kentucky about 4 months ago. Once it started getting colder, the missus noticed that wonderful aroma of gasoline in the cabin of her van. After a little poking and prodding around the internet (hey, I don't know enough to poke and prod under the hood), it seems the general consensus is that it was most likely the fuel pressure regulator leaking. It seems that cold weather exacerbates this condition.
We finally found a mechanic with good references and got the van in this morning to be looked at. Sure enough, the fuel pressure regulator does need to be replaced. Apparently, so too do the injector o-rings, the upper manifold intake gasket, a coolant hose, a missing motor mount bolt, and one or two other things I don't remember at the moment. Oh, yeah, we also had a small oil leak we wanted them to locate. Turns out the oil pan gasket is bad and needs to be replaced.
Grand total will be just south of $1,500.
Four or five years ago my response would have been, "Well, time to shop for a new vehicle." However, my attitude has slowly changed (and been changed) in the interegnum. The vehicle is paid for, and has right at 110,000 miles on the odometer. We did have to have the upper intake manifold gasket replaced around 60k as well, and the mechanic indicated that it's a pretty common repair on our vehicle (Chevy Venture). So, I can shell out $1,500 and have a vehicle that's pretty good to go for the next 3 - 5 years, or I can take on a car payment.
Let's look at some numbers. We bought this van for about 18k used, so I'll run with that for what it would cost us to find another quality used vehicle that meets the needs of our family. My bank is currently offering auto loans on used vehicles at 5.69%. If I finance for 60 months, that's $347 a month. Over the loan period, I'll pay out almost 21k. Or, I can pay out the $1,500 and get it repaired. That's the equivalent of 4 of those loan payments, and I'll still have a paid-for car.
Yeah, sometimes I get the itch to have better/nicer/fancier wheels. My wife sometimes gets feature envy seeing some of the newer vehicles with power sliding this, and power folding that. Heck, I do too. But ya know, both of my vehicles are paid for. In fact, we don't have any debt at all right now. No credit cards, no car payments, no student loans, nothing. Now, that does change in about 6 weeks when our house is built but even then, the only debt we'll have is the mortgage. Oh, and we have almost enough in our emergency fund to pay for the car repairs.
Long story short? Cash is king, and I have (newly) found aversion to debt. It's amazing how much money is left over at the end of the month when you're not sending it all off to the banks. I like it much better than having too much month left at the end of the money. Instead of taking on more debt, I'll get the engine work done now (~$800) and in a month or two I'll get the oil pan gasket fixed. If I time it right, I'll just do that instead of the next scheduled oil change, and kill two birds with one stone :)
So, Mr. Murphy? I know you knocked on the door, but I don't feel like answering right now. I'm too busy getting on with my life.