Why are some people so tight when it comes to car maintainance and repair?

I work with a guy that has a late model dodge truck with 20’’ wheels. It needs new tires, and it will cost him about 900 bucks for a decent set, he is crying the blues and trying to find some cheap Chinese tires instead.

So he paid 30k plus for this truck new, puts gas into the 15mpg truck, and doesnt blink an eye, but when it comes to tires he thinks 900 bucks is a crazy amount. Now 900 is alot of money, but when you look at a 30k truck, 900 bucks is nothing. This same guy always upgrades to the new I phone when it comes out, wont complain about spending 200 bucks on tickets for a sporting event ect… I mean I figured out he spends almost 4k a year on fuel for this truck to drive it 20k miles a year.

Why do so many people buy luxury or performance vehicles and then cry when its time to pay the piper. My mechanic tells of a story of a customer with a late model corvette, it calls for mobil one oil, now we all know you can use cheaper oil and it will still run, but its a vette, use the mobil one. Well the mechanic says this guy crys the blues when the vette needs tires, or brakes, or a oil change because its all expensive due to the extra cost of vette parts.

The same guy with the vette complains that the car requires premium fuel. Now if your driving a vette, is the extra 30 cents a gallon for premium gonna hurt?

Now I understand that times are tough, I get it. I feel for the guy driving a 1995 geo metro and is living hand to mouth and he has a repair come up. Its tough, and not everyone can budget for major auto repairs. but a vette? a Dodge truck? These are not economy cars…

I find it rather amusing, people wont bat an eye to put 50 bucks into a 200 dollar smart phone, but will cry when it comes time to auto repairs.

Any similar stories?

I’m so cheap that I change my oil when the OLM says to rather than doing it at 3000 miles.

And I agree with you concerning cheaping out on gasoline. If I buy a car that requires premium gas, I will use premium gas. If you get 25 MPG, it will only cost an additional $120 per 10,000 miles driven. Seem like a lot? Even at 15,000 miles each year, that’s less than 50 cents per day to use the right gas. Chickenfeed.

I agree about the gas business,why spend the extra money on a supercharged engine,if you cant afford to put the right gas in it? And I know some folks that wont service an automatic trans because of the cost-Kevin

It’s just human nature to short shrift a car; the tool that people use on a daily or almost daily basis.
Considering the complexity, number of parts, and the stresses involved in so many of those parts it’s amazing to me that any car on the planet stays in one piece for more than a week.

Think about the size of a lowly ball joint, the weight and stress applied to it, and the number of times a day it moves or takes a wallop from a bump in the road. By all rights, that ball joint should fall apart before the new car smell has faded.

You asked for an example. Here’s one from when I worked for SAAB.
A lady and her hubby dropped off their 900 for an oil change and installation of a SAAB snow ski rack Noting the maintenance records were skimpy I noted on the repair order that catching up a few basics (fuel filter, spark plugs, etc) might be a good idea along with at least 2 new tires seeing as how they were going to be hitting the road for Vail, CO.

Both wife and husband showed up as I was finishing the ski rack and had another couple with them.
The couple brushed off the maintenance items and tires I had suggested and instead (seriously) spent over 20 minutes standing there in the shop fawning over the ski rack and muttering “how cool it will look when they pull up at the lodge” with the other couple smiling and nodding in agreement.

Odds are a tow truck driver, and everyone else at the lodge, won’t care what the ski rack looks like… :slight_smile:


Thats just smart, not cheap!

The SAAB Story is perfect example…

At work we have 150k dollar bucket trucks, we do NO maint. other than oil changes. So you spend 150k and will refuse to do a 200 dollar fuel filter service thats recommended in the manual? We trip over dollars to pick up dimes where I work…


I don’t get why people spend money on stuff like that ski rack and trips and then skimp on maint.

Many people think mechanics are all rip offs, and some are. But many are not and are just trying to help people out…

I can’t tell you how many times I have done a electricity shutoff for non-payment, the people come to the door, smoking marlboro reds, and there is a H2 in the driveway of the 8 grand mobile home. Now I live in a modular trailer home, they can be nice, I am not knocking people who live in trailers, but if you cant pay your electric bill maybe you shouldn’t be smoking and driving a H2… The stories I have about similar circumstances go on and on…

Whenever you see a person with an expensive car- remember, it does not mean they have money; it means they had money and chose to spend it on an expensive car. They could still have money- to pay for the premium fuel or synthetic oil- or they could have spent the money they had on a car and now can’t really afford to run it. I’d rather have more money, less car but some people don’t.

Take your wife out for drinks and dinner, you’ll blow $100 easy. But you gotta keep looking for that $16.95 oil change.

This week I had a car in, 6 years old with 62,000 miles. We are the only ones that service this car. It has had 4 oil changes and a set of wiper blades. That’s it. It was towed in, was only running on 2 cylinders. We found a bad coil killing cyls 2 and 3. She also requested we check the brakes since they have been shaking the car for about a year.

The estimate came to about $1200. Needed a coil, plugs and wires as maintenance, front and rear brakes, transmission service (fluid brown), serpentine belt (cracked), and tires (2 were on the wear indicators).

The husband says “Well she just uses it to go back and forth to work. Can we just get it running for now? We just spent $6000 getting our pool resurfaced and painted.”

I look at him and say “Well why not forget about the car and work altogether and just stay home in the pool?”

“Yeah, go ahead and fix it but we won’t be able to pick it up until the 15th.”

I don’t have a car story but do have a boat maintenance example. For 20 plus years I served on a beach club committee was in charge of our boat mooring and landing area. For the safety of our swimming area and other member boats, we insisted that all memebers who used our facilities use appropriate moorings, mushroom anchors, chains swivels and floats that conformed to local marine standards. To set up a mooring in shallow 20 foot deep it didn’t cost more then $200 for all the fixings and we gave them free labor for assembly and setting the moorings. We even had the local diving club inspect their moorings during the year and pull them at the end of the season,

These guys had $10k to $20k in some of their boats and it was like pulling teeth to force them to use proper moorings. It began as a request, but ultimately we threatened to pull their membership if they did not comply. The cheap crap they wanted to use made me wonder where their head was. Thousands of dollars in potential damage and some of these guys couldn’t spring for a couple hundred bucks that would give them years of security. Unbelievable ! I can still hear them whine. They must have been the same with their cars.

Many people who buy a late model car only factor in the monthly payment and, sometimes, insurance into their budget to determine what they can afford and assume it will never break down or need new brakes or tires. I had a customer once who had a few-year-old BMW 7 series and a $38k a year job. Last time I remember looking at that car, it needed new brakes, tires were well past the wear bars, needed ball joints, and was leaking from a cracked coolant reservoir. He had the coolant leak fixed because it was the cheapest repair on the ticket and all he could afford.

Once, I was showing a customer a loose ball joint on their Cadillac. They started screaming at me to stop shaking the wheel because they were afraid I would break “that thing” and they needed to drive the car to Chicago that day (a three hour drive from where I was working).

Priorities in repair can be a strange thing to customers. I once replaced a customer’s a/c compressor, receiver drier, expansion valve, etc to the tune of nearly a grand after they turned down concerns of worn tie rod ends, shot brakes, and cords showing on the inside shoulders of the tires because “the wife and kids are taking this car out of town for the weekend and we need that air conditioning working”.

“Whenever you see a person with an expensive car- remember, it does not mean they have money; it means they had money and chose to spend it on an expensive car.”

I’m not disagreeing with you, but whenever you see somebody driving a very expensive, late-model car, you should consider the likelihood that they are leasing the car, and did not actually buy it. The more expensive the car, the more likely that it is leased, and not owned by the driver.

As most of us are aware, leasing is actually the most expensive way to possess a car, and unless it is a deductible expense for a business, leasing is not an economical approach. But…when somebody’s ego is so fragile that they need to look prosperous, and are actually living beyond their means in order to have this appearance, logic seems to fly out the window.

I know somebody who had just as high a salary as I did when we were working, and whose retirement benefits are essentially the same as mine. While I own my 7 room house in an upscale, suburban/rural neighborhood, he lives in a tiny apartment in a dodgy urban area.
While I have no debt, this guy constantly has huge credit card bills hanging over his head, and he usually makes the minimum payments on those cards each month. While I pay cash for my somewhat modest cars (and drive them for ~10 years), he leases a new Cadillac every couple of years, and is sometimes late with the payments, due to his ongoing financial problems.

What makes the difference in our lifestyles? He is an inveterate gambler who goes to the casinos in Atlantic City several times each month, and his fragile ego dictates that he has to arrive there in a flashy car. To the average person, this guy probably does appear to be prosperous, even though he has no savings and constantly lives beyond his means.

So…don’t assume that those luxury cars are owned outright!

Also, let us not forget that auto maintenance is probably the lowest priority for folks who will turn-in that leased car within a couple of years.

Had this teaching buddy who moonlighted as a realtor. He stopped by one day to ask me to help put up a few realty signs. When he pulls in the drive with his manual Jeep Cherokee, it stalls. I asked what “what’s the problem” He replied, " the clutch isn’t working, but for the past week, I find if I start it in gear and shift at the correct time and hard enough, I can still drive it."

I opened his hood and saw the hydraulic clutch reservoir was almost dry. I dumped in some brake fluid I had myself and the clutch worked perfectly.
I told him he should have the leaked looked at or carry a spare bottle of fluid around with him. A month later, he had done neither.

He also had a Datsun pick up which he loaned to me to drive to work one day, while my car was having brake work done. His instructions were " when you start it, the oil light comes on. Don’t worry about it. It goes out if you drive fast enough." again, I opened the hood to check the oil. It didn’t even register on the stick. I added nearly two quarts to bring it up to the “add a quart mark.”

Needless to say, with this guy, if we ever had to make a trip together of any distance, we drove one of my cars.


too bad you have to buy expensive tires and drive on them to decide if they perform well or not. funny, they look good. but handle bad. or have no grip. or wear fast. why are there so many threads asking what tires to buy. why buy michelin tires or kumho tires or goodyear tires. everyone has stories of how they love tires or hate tires.

I agree that buying Cheap tires for a $30k vehicle isn’t very wise…But I don’t go buy the MOST expensive tires either. I buy GOOD tires at a decent price. Tire prices are all over the map based on brand and store. I can buy GOOD tires for my 4runner that range from $600 up to $1200 a set. And the difference in quality of the $500 set is as good or better then the $1200 set.

I can also buy a set of tires for $400…that I’m not too sure about the quality. So I stay away from them.

Looking for a cheaper set doesn’t mean looking for a lower quality set. I can go to Sullivan tires right down the road from me…and buy a set of Cooper Discovery AT3’s for $950…or go to Nashua Wholesale tire and buy the same set for $570.

It seems that many people won’t blink at unnecessarily spending big bucks for so,ething that makes them feel important or successful…like a fancy truck with otional wheels…but cry like a baby when a necessary expense comes due. I suppose it’s human nature.

I personally think about the long term cost of ownership when making the original decision. But, still, I get surprizes, like the increases in tire prices these past few years. Sigh. I’m so glad I did’t go “fancy” when I bought my car…

Status, or the appearance of status, continues to be an easy pay installment commodity, @VDC. I’m amazed when owners of late model BMWs, Hummers, etc, drive into the McParts stores and demand that the clerk installs the $3 wiper inserts or replace a battery or headlight for free. Talk about an “entitlement” mentality.

Someone I know drives a Jaguar X-type, I believe it is. Somehow or another he managed to destroy one of the side rearview mirrors. Apparently a new one is something like $600, which he balked at paying, and getting one from a junkyard isn’t an option. So instead he’s been working the past couple of months, with the aid of super glue, to reassemble the original one, the pieces of which he gathered up at the time. Unbelievable.

Another person I know had an Acura, which was leased. She managed to blow out a tire and mess up the wheel, and found out a new wheel was going to be like $900. Just for the wheel, no tire, and because it was leased, it had to be the OEM Acura wheel. Of course, this was like a bomb going off, and much drama ensued.

As the rest of you have been saying: if you can’t pay for premium parts, service, and gas, you don’t need the premium car. Leasing may give you the perception of getting into a luxury vehicle for a lower monthly payment, but there’s always a cost.

Personally I’d rather drive an “average” car that I can afford. Let the neighbors think what they want.

Yeah, my girlfriend recently bought a new Hyundai Santa Fe. I took one look at and said, “You know those big tires are going to cost an arm and a leg.” That wasn’t something she considered when car shopping.

I used to be able to get a set of four tires for my car for about $200. The price is now double. That’s enough to get my attention. On my next car, I’ll be pricing new tires before I sign anything.

Does anyone remember this incident, when these guys died trying to save a $20 anchor?