Counting the cost of cheapness

Escort GhiaXAbout a year ago I bought a new car.  Well, not new exactly.  Considerably second hand, to be exact.  Still, it looked to be in very good condition, despite the mileage, and I couldn’t fault it for the price.  £850 for a small family saloon.  Bargain.

Following that purchase the Escort became our daily runner, and the Mini was sold prior to us moving house – the sale of the Mini paid for the removals van and some of the white goods we bought when we moved in.  And the Escort has continued to drive beautifully without problems, and we have certainly appreciated the air conditioning a few times too.

However, it did come as a considerable worry when I checked the car over the day before we went to camp (which I still have yet to write about – sorry!).  The oil level was fine, if a bit dirty, and everything else in the engine bay looked fine, but I was aware that the exhaust had been rattling.  Closer inspection showed that it was just loose, and securing it properly would fix that no problem.  What I hadn’t expected to see was a large amount of rust on the rear subframe.  Not good.

The power of prayer held the car together that week, I’m sure.  Going to camp we had the car loaded to the roof with clothes, fancy dress items, and quite a lot of musical instruments and related equipment.  I tried to keep as much of the weight towards the front of the car, to try to keep as much weight as I could off the rear wheels, but beyond that I had to rely on God to keep the car in one piece.  The drive to camp was beautiful, but I would have enjoyed it a lot more had I not been nearly trembling with fear every time I spotted a pothole.  Thankfully God answered my barrage of prayers and got us to camp without problem, and back again at the end of the week.  Actually, camp was a great boost for me, rekindling my trust in God – on the way to camp I was fearful, but on the way back I had confidence in my Lord to protect and provide for us, and the return journey was actually quite pleasant.

Last week we had visitors (hi girls, if you’re reading), so we had to carry on using the car to ferry everyone around – again, prayer was a common denominator in every journey, but it was a prayer of confidence in God’s ability to work miracles in a car that should have been crippled already.  So it wasn’t until this morning that I was able to take the car into a garage to have it serviced.

Frampton’s garage seems very professional and helpful, and I received a phone call from them earlier with the report.  They had looked the car over and assessed how much work needed to be done, and how long it would take, taking into account the subframe and some other bits and pieces that needed doing.  £600.  Ouch.  That’s nearly as much as the car is worth.  Most insurance companies would probably think twice about having that work done, I’m sure.  Still, we’ve weighed up the options, and it’s clear that although £600 is a lot to spend on repairs to a car, especially an older one, it’s still a lot less than replacing the car outright.  If nothing else, I just can’t entertain the idea of scrapping a car that is in such good condition elsewhere.  Sure, it’s got problems, but the interior is beautiful and the engine is sound, and squashing it into a box just doesn’t seem right.

So I’ve told them to go ahead with the repairs.  I can just about cover the cost of the work, and hopefully then the car will last another few years yet.  I guess with hindsight I could have paid more initially and got a newer car that wouldn’t need work doing to it a year later.  But then there’s still no guarantee, even with a newer car, that it won’t fall apart.  That’s the risk you take buying a cheap car – bargain it may be, but it may bite you later on.

4 thoughts on “Counting the cost of cheapness

  1. Hi Matthew, £600 is an awful lot 🙁 Hope that you don’t get any more trouble though!

    I guess you get what you pay for, but like you point out – you can be hit with a big bill even with a newer car. There are no guarantees! (Well, unless you buy a brand-new car, but let’s not talk about that…)

  2. I’ve kinda abandoned that idea, not because I don’t know the alphabet but because I found myself putting off writing things because I couldn’t think of a witty alphabetical subtitle, and that rather defeated the point of having a blog. So in the interests of regular posts, it’s gone. For now.

  3. In the end the work didn’t cost quite as much as they said, which was good. Still a fair amount, but at least the car is back on the road now and should last a few more years at least!

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