Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More car trouble

On our way to Pittsburgh this morning, we got a flat tire. We had a spare tire but, as luck would have it, no car jack. So we had to wait for 2 hours before help arrived. There were four adults plus Zari in our little VW Golf, so we were quite cramped in there.

I think our car is cursed. In the past 7 months, we have had the following problems or repairs:
  • Mysterious problem with the car stalling and refusing to start, brought it to a VW dealership and spent almost $900 (and had to rent a car for 5 days). The same problem reoccurred the day after we brought it home. Then, once we got the car started on our own, it mysteriously went away.
  • New tires (old ones were totally bald): a couple hundred dollars
  • Replace rear brake rotors and pads (rotors were rusted and pretty much toast, causing the car to wobble and shake): a couple hundred dollars
  • Battery kept losing a charge, so we bought a battery charger so we wouldn't have to get the car jumped every time we needed to go somewhere. (Adding to the mystery, every time we had the battery tested, it came out fine!): $60
  • New glow plugs: $200
  • New timing belt: $600
  • New battery (after our car died last week in subzero weather and wouldn't restart): $160
  • Flat tire
Our car isn't even that old--it's a 2003 Golf with 70,000 miles. I just don't get it.


  1. Welcome to my neighborhood...I'm in Pittsburgh.

    I realize that you travel a fair amount, so becoming car-free probably won't be a great solution for you, but that's the direction we went this past June once we were finally done messing around with car issues and problems. It has saved us an obscene amount of money and not to mention saved us some headaches too!

  2. We have a Jetta that is constantly needing repairs too. We have a Cavalier the same age that never needs anything done, but the Jetta is in the shop all the time and every little things is at least $400.00 to fix. I think it's VW's. They are supposed to be well made, but I keep hearing about how they break down so much and how expensive they are to fix. We are selling the car this spring and getting another Cavalier.

  3. With that second kid on the way, I think you guys are ready for an Odyssey. We bought ours 3 years old two years ago, and it has brought us so much joy. (Wipes a tear from her eye).

  4. In a bigger community with public transportation, we could easily go car-free (and would love to be able to!). We hardly use our car on a day-to-day basis when we're home. We drive to church in the winter (1.8 miles each way, close enough to bike in nice weather) and to get groceries & go to home improvement stores (2 miles away). But other than that, we do everything on foot. In fact, part of our car problems early this fall--the battery specifically--were related to driving the car so infrequently that our already compromised battery would be totally dead by time we needed the car again.

    But despite these problems, I love getting 50 mpg. And, when I have a supply of used fry oil, free fuel.

  5. Man, even with all the car issues you've had, it would be nice to get mileage that good. We've got a minivan (a necessity with 4 kids), and unfortunately the mpg's are not good.

    I'm sorry to hear about all the problems, though. That's a lot of money in a short period of time.

    When do you guys get home?

  6. I agree with Jennifer- people I know who have had VWs have had SOOOO many issues with them. Sounds like it's time for a new-used car. Try a Honda. We've had our Civic for 11 years and 115,000 and it's still going strong.

  7. Shoot, Rixa, even our '91 Volvo isn't racking up more expense than this... though right now it can't start in wet weather, so I can't exactly brag... also I meant to ask you about the frozen fuel lines, was that the cooking oil or just regular fuel?

    I've heard that about VWs too.

    Car free... I *SO* wish!!! All I'd need is a supermarket w/in walking distance. Alas, that's not going to happen. Neighborhood mom&pop store sells at a 50-100% markup. We lived in NYC 6 years without a car and never thought twice about it. Oh well. The price of having a yard, I guess.

    Good luck with your troubled bug!

  8. That stinks! We could never go car free, but we do share one car that has so far acted right-- a 96 windstar. Who cares though! When cars start to act up and get all expensive it makes me SICK ---I hate spending money on cars!!!!!

  9. We were on diesel--it was just so cold that the fuel gelled up. That's not a problem with the car itself, though, just the cold weather. We've had no problems since we started putting an anti-gel supplement in when we gas up.

  10. Oh gosh, when it rains it pours.

  11. We recently bought a new car and according to the Consumer Guide, VW's (all models) are some of the WORST rated vehicles from 98-08. Next in line was the BMW's. We had horrible trouble with our Windstar van, so we checked the Consumer Guide report before we bought a new vehicle!

  12. Our 1998 Subaru has 250000 miles on it, but looking back, we must have spent at least 5 cents per mile driven on the repairs and maintenance for it. It nearly died on us this fall, but for a miracle and another painfully expensive repair.

    We could go car free if we had to, but hopefully we can keep it running until Minnesota winter is over and the new baby is born (I'm 25 weeks now, enjoying your belly pictures!).


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