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When spending $800 on car repair is worth it

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I really didn't want to spend the money, but sometimes you just have eat the cost to avoid paying more later.

Above is a sway bar link, also known as a stabilizer bar link. They are cheap to buy, but to have a pair of these installed by a mechanic can be anywhere from $275 to $400, depending on car type and garage you take it to.

These little links do wear out over time, and you'd be amazed how much they affect the ride quality of the car. True, they don't look like much and are easy to dismiss as something you don't think needs replacing after 100,000 miles or so. But oh yeah, these little things when in proper working order really do make the car ride better.

I just had three things done to my car. Rear drum brake cleaning, e-brake cable adjust (the e-brake handle was a little loose, I had the mechanic adjust the cable tension while the rear wheels were off since that's where the tension adjustment is), and sway bar links.

Next up however are rear shock absorber replacements. This has not been done yet but will be fairly soon. Rear shocks are not as cheap as sway bar links, but you can get a pair for as little as 50 bucks when you look around, even for a full size truck.

All this stuff combined for my car will be about $800.

Yeah, that's steep for a car repair. But then again, it's for multiple repairs and not just one thing. Still, $800 is $800 and that's not cheap.

Why dump $800 worth of repair into a regular car over 10 years old?

My car is over a decade old and has seen better days, but it's paid for and runs well. I'll get back to that in a moment.

It's usually true that a set of tires is the most expensive thing people will buy for their car. These days it's almost too easy to spend over a grand just for that. However, for literally everything else where repair and maintenance is concerned, most only do the bare minimum or nothing at all, resulting in a car that will basically destroy itself due to lack of proper care.

Fewer than six months ago, I strapped on new tires. Worn out sway bar links and rear shocks can strip away as much as 10,000 miles or more off those tires. How? The tire gets subjected to unnecessary bowing/flexing every time I turn or go over a bump in the road due to worn out suspension components. Not good.

$800 spent on the repairs now means there's a better chance of my tires lasting longer, provided I rotate them twice a year (which I do). That $800 spent now means less spent on tire replacement in the future.

And as I said above, my car is paid for and runs well. True, it's not the prettiest thing in the world and has paint chips, dings and dents all over it. However, yes it is worth sinking a bunch of money into a not-so pretty car that works. If it didn't work, I wouldn't bother.

I'm definitely feeling the sting of spending $800 on car repairs, but given the absolutely insane prices of cars these days, better to make the one I have last as long as possible rather than have a car payment.

Published 2023 Jun 6

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