Nickeled And Dimed

My car is seven years old.  It was purchased in May, 2010 with 10 miles on the odometer.  Now, my car has 253,000 miles on the odometer.  It’s been a long, fun trip.  And now it’s time to pay up.

The shocks on the car really need replaced.  Really.  The car bottoms out on many bumps, which is hard to bear.  So, in my research of replacement shocks, I was entirely overwhelmed with options.  Since my car is a sports car, you have the basic replacement option, then you have somewhere on the order of a thousand “performance” options.  There’s another issue as well.  One that I know because it’s not the first time I’ve had shocks changed on a car. 

The first time I had the shocks changed on a previous car, I was wowed for a couple of days.  The car rode like brand new!  But then, it faded and the ride became just ok.  So the next car, which was a beater, I had the springs and the shocks replaced at the same time.  It’s kind of dumb to put almost 50% of the purchase price of the car into an upgrade, right?  The new car sensation lasted a bit longer, but eventually faded again.  Maybe I wasn’t buying high-quality parts, I don’t know.  But it’s not something you can just experiment with.  It’s fucking expensive.

So, in my research, it looks like I can spend about $600 for front and rear shocks that should be the same as OEM, or I can go wild with an adjustable $1500 system.  Regardless, $600 plus installation isn’t penny change.  I’m undecided as to whether to attempt the installation myself or utilize my neighbor or go to a shop.

Along with that issue, I have a headlight burned out right now.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal, right?  Go to AutoZone and they’ll install it for you?  You don’t know my car.  To change a headlight, you have to take the wheels off and remove the wheel well liner to access the headlight mount.  It’s a multi-hour process.  It is something I can do myself and I hate doing it every single time.  I’ve changed headlights at least 3 times.

When you’re taking out the fender liner, there are plastic fasteners that hold the liner in place.  These plastic pieces naturally become brittle over time and crack and fail.  I purchased a bunch of similar pieces and have used them in the past, but they’re not exactly like the originals and don’t fit very well.  And they crack even easier.  So I should buy new ones.  Those fasteners aren’t cheap either.  They’re over $1 each and I’ll probably need a couple dozen.  That and the light bulbs.

But that’s not all.  The headlight lenses are completely fogged over.  This condition started after the car was flooded many years ago.  And unlike the condition all the self-polishing kits attempt to remedy, my fogging is in the inside of the lenses, where it can’t be polished out.  So what’s the recourse?  Replacement.  When I did some research on replacements, I was floored by the prices.  Almost $1200 to replace both (in just parts).  And you know replacement would involve removing the entire bumper, which I might be able to do myself.  A later search revealed I was looking at the HID headlight lenses, which I don’t have.  That brought my parts cost down to about $800.  That’s still a hard pill to swallow, but more manageable.

So let’s tally up the whole renovation.  $600 for new shocks, maybe $50 for lights and fasteners, and $800 for headlight lenses.  Let’s just say $1500 in parts.  If I really wanted to make the car like-new, I’d need it repainted.  I’m not going to even entertain that right now.  The car itself has a blue book value of probably $4000, and with a flood on its history, it’s probably less.  So, I’m looking at spending almost half the car’s value to get it back up to standard usability.  That’s dumb, right?  But, to put the cost in perspective, I haven’t had a car payment in many, many, many months.  And this large expense is really only a few months of car payments, so I’m actually ahead of the game.

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