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Planned Car Repair Bill – Sharing a Car

It's time to repair the Volkswagen.  My car has been having some problems, and after getting an estimate from our local mechanic, we decided to have the car repaired Monday. I was pretty proud that we planned ahead and had our schedule worked out for Monday and have the money set aside. I was nervous about dipping into our savings so quickly after getting a new place, but I thought it would be a quick 1 day repair. It's Thursday and we're hoping (really hoping!) that it'll be ready tomorrow.

Dipping Into Our Emergency Fund for an Unexpected Car Repair

On top of that, while our friends were in town last weekend, my car started acting funny and the check engine light came on. When went to AutoZone to see what the problem was and I'm hoping it's just replacing the hose. While we planned on getting the sensor fixed, this was something new and meant we'd have to dip into our emergency fund.



Down to one car this week while mine is in the shop

Down to one car this week while mine is in the shop

How We're Adjusting To Using One Car

In the meantime, my husband and I are a one car family. Part of the problem was we thought going down to one car would only be for a day, so sharing the car for this week required some changes.

  • Readjusted Schedules: After my husband goes to work I have to drive across town (literally) for my work. We're really putting miles on this car and
  • Arrange Errands in Batches: Depending on where I'm at in town, I'll take care of errands that need to get done during the week.
  • Calling friends for carpools and rides: Since I don't have office work tomorrow, I'll work form home part of the day and hitch a ride with friends for some things.

I realized how convenient a car is in our town ( no bus routes near us) and how much we can improve on our car usage. I'm going to try and keep batching errands; it better for gas and our wallet.

Fixing an Volkswagen ABS Module

I'm not a mechanic, but I do want to have an idea of how the process works to get my car fixed. Being a fan of Google, I went ahead and discovered that it's more complicated than I thought. Besides the part itself being pricey, I read that replacing the module is a bt time consuming.

On the Jetta, the hydraulic unit must be removed in order to access the ABS controller located on the bottom.

Source: Module Master

I feel better and worse after reading that information. On one hand, I can see how it can take longer than a day, but I'm worried it'll cost some more money than we have budgeted. The good news is that he gave us an estimate and said they would call us if it was to be more. We've been with the shop for years and they have been dead on with their price estimates, so I'm hoping that'll be true in this case.

Your Thoughts on Sharing a Car

Are you a one car family? What tips do you have to organize it? Could you make one car living work for your family?

Photo Credit: jonathan.broderick

About Elle Martinez

Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

16 comments add your comment

  1. We are definitely not a one car family. We live in the sticks so it’s really not an option with me commuting to work and two boys in various activities. It’s a great expense but it’s a choice we made living in God’s country.

  2. @Paul: I was really surprised at how much we depend on 2 cars. There are definitely ways we can be more efficient, but to get everything done, two cars is important.

  3. Oh no! Sorry to hear. How convenient is public transportation in your neck of the woods. NC right? I biked to get my car last night, and actually, it was kinda fun… but dangerous.

    Old cars were so much simpler and less prone to gremlins.

    I am a one family car, although I would buy another if i had space!

  4. We have two cars but my husband’s car (a Jetta w/ an ABS light currently on) only gets used rarely. He commutes to work on the train but the monthly expense for the train pass is close to car payment.

  5. @SAHM-CFO: How far is his commute? I wish we had public transportation near us; I’d love to get some work done while someone else drives 🙂

  6. It’s hard to get away with one here in Texas. Everything is so spread out. Although, I know it could still be done. I’d be interested to hear how you feel after the week. I think I would probably feel like staying a one car family if it worked out. You guys will probably grow closer as a family too.

  7. @PT: Considering our work schedule and arrangements right now, I don’t think being a one car family would work. I’m hoping to build my freelance income, which could reduce the need for 2 cars. That said, our cars are paid for and maintaining them is fairly cheap, so the convenience of 2 cars is appealing.

  8. Barring an emergency, I don’t think we could ever be a one car family. I live and work on long island and the wife works from home and has to make sales calls. But man if we could do it, that would be a lot of cash we could save.

    I remember the first time I had car trouble and I didn’t have to turn to a credit card – I was SO PUMPED!

  9. We’re a NO car family. I’ve been using a bicycle as my primary means of getting around for about 20 years, and I’ve been gradually teaching my partner the ropes such that she now feels confident that she can do it too. We’re fortunate to live in a city that makes it reasonably easy to do this. We got rid of the car and all its attendant expenses, and rather than feeling stranded or worried, we’ve found that actually the worries were coming from owning the car in the first place. And rather than being stranded anywhere, we now depend on a device that is so simple that first of all, it rarely breaks down, and secondly, if it does, we can fix it ourselves without paying a mechanic. We don’t have kids, but if we did, there are trailers, child seats, and these contraptions available.
    From all the exercise, we’re both in good physical shape and enjoy a great sex life. We also walk to get places — for example, we live within 1/4 mile of two supermarkets, and enjoy a nice walk/talk to get there. There is a good public transit system as well (though we rarely use it). For longer trips where we have to haul large or heavy cargo, we rely on ZipCar which essentially rents cars and trucks by the hour. Though those occasions always leave us incredulous that people actually put up with traffic willingly every day. What we are really taking advantage of here is recapturing the advantages of simplicity (i.e. walking and biking) and dis-investing in the diminishing returns of complexity (i.e. complicated, expensive industrial machinery that never quite fulfills its promise). That, and the basic idea of “pooling resources” (which is what you’re doing when you live in a city close together with other people, or when you use something like Zipcar). These are the trends of the future and I’m happy to say they’re very liberating and very inexpensive!