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

My mom is one I know that’ll skimp on maintenance/repairs.

While I was riding with her a few months ago, I mentioned that I heard a rubbing noise in the passenger side wheel well. I can’t remember what she said she took her car in for, but they got it on the lift and the inside of her passenger side tire was pretty much showing cords from where it was rubbing the wheel well. I’ve told her I can hear metal rattling when she’s going over bumps or potholes(probably tie rods or CV joints) and when she’s running the AC fan, it sounds like a lawn mower(not as loud as one, but that’s the kind of noise it’s making).

She’s told me she’s been waiting for the car to fall apart on her one of these days. She doesn’t hate it, per se, but she doesn’t like it either; she settled for the car because the price was right at the time. I feel if she gets a car she likes, she might be more inclined to take care of it, as opposed to a car that was “the right price at the time”.
My step dad balks at running the central air and running up the electric bill, but he barely batted an eye buying some WW2 memorabilia for 4 grand

Where I live in salt country, I always come accross people with middle age cars who claim they take " good care of their cars" but they are still showing rust. This includes one of my closest friends. They are absolutely festidious about taking it in for and oil change but couldn’t be bothered properly maintaining the body. " Oh, I’ll just take it into the body shop and let them fix the rust."
I never new rust could be “fixed” !

Always thought you just tried to prevent it. No one needs a rusted out car. Anyone can extend the life of their car indefinitely for 10 times less effort then changing your own motor oil…yet few of us do it. I still scratch my head when I hear people say they can’t be bothered or don’t have the time. It’s one of the few preventative maintenances you need few mechanical skills for and provides the best return for time spent doing it. Even if you trade your car in less then 8 to ten years, in the rust belt, it’s easy to tell who actually put the time in where it should be.

Heck, people still feel a rusting car is enevitable.


Are you referring to washing the car and hosing off the underbody? I had a grandfather that always said he wasnt going to wash a hunk of iron. His cars showed it…

This is the extreme. I use motor oil but I have the capability and experience to contain the drippings. Boiled linseed oil through a garden sprayer is easy and safe and need only be applied where rust starts and you can 't touch up the surface paint; it is appied on the inner panels by doing all seams through drain holes and removing access panels. Once you get to know your own car, it can be done once every year or two, and it takes less time then an oil change. The guy who showed me this, has it down to such a science, he need only use a squirt bottle of oil and five minutes per car.

Now, after I show this to people, they spend the next 5 minutes making feeble excuses why they can’t do it. Bottom line is, they don’t want to crawl around under a car with coveralls on. They would rather just drive through a car wash and make an oppointment to have their “motor oil change” fetish taken care of, then announce to everyone, “I take good care of my car.” That’s like a smoker taking vitamins to avoid cancer. You have to work at it…

I wonder how many people are like that over at Bob-is-the-oil-guy:
Obsessing over 0W-20 vs 5W-20 while the rest of their car rots.

Because car maintenance sucks from a psychological standpoint. You take a car in to an oil change place. You give them 30 bucks, and then you drive it away, and it runs exactly the same as it did when you took it in. Even though your evolved adult human brain knows that you are warding off future damage, the child part of you is saying “I just spent $30 for nothing and I could have gotten something cool instead!”

I don’t know. I guess its just a matter of what’s important to people and what isn’t. I’ve been around small engines etc. since I was ten and have a great appreciation for mechanical things and want to keep them up. Others just don’t have that experience. My farmer FIL used to complain about his farmer nephew that wouldn’t pick their tools up or maintain their eqipment. You’d think it would be prime concern but just a different mindset.

I don’t want to be sexist but having worked for a number of females and males, it was extremely hard to sell the idea of preventive maintenance to some of the females. They just saw it as a loss and expected you to take care of the problem when things did break down or get out. It was slightly easier with the male bean counters where it seemed that at least they understood the consequences of the failure to invest. I’ve always held though that there’s no such thing as not enough money but just a matter of what the priorities are. I just think if you get your hands dirty once in a while, you are more likely to appreciate maintenance activities.

The veterans of this board may recall this anecdote from a few years ago, and if so, please excuse the repetition.

Back in 1972, I agreed to accompany two co-workers to Daytona Beach at Easter. The guy who owned a 3 year old Maverick said that we should take his car, as it was the newest. On the evening of our departure, we had to immediately stop for gas on the NJ Turnpike, as the tank was almost empty (so much for planning ahead on the part of the car’s owner).

Back in those days, it was normal for gas attendants to check your oil without asking, and within seconds of popping the hood, the attendant came to the driver’s window with the dipstick, which appeared to have been dunked in tar. He asked the car’s owner, “When was the last time that you changed this mud?”. The reply was, “Oh, I don’t believe in that stuff”. I immediately saw disaster in our near future, since we had to depend on this car to get us to Florida and back.

To make a long story short, the car broke down twice on the way to Florida.
The first breakdown, in Norfolk, was due to the shift linkage snapping. As you may recall, cars of that era had an incredible number of lube points, and the shift linkage of stick-shift Mavericks did need to be lubed on a periodic basis.

I already knew that the car’s owner “did not believe in oil changes”, but I wondered about the car’s overall maintenance. To my shock, I learned that the car had never been serviced by anyone in any way since the day that it had been delivered to him. So, the total lack of servicing may well explain the snapped shift linkage.

After the Ford dealer in Norfolk got us back on the road very quickly the next day, I thought that it might have been clear sailing for us, but–unfortunately–severe overheating in Georgia caused the radiator’s upper seam to burst. The stuff that sprayed out onto the engine looked like the bottom of the world’s muddiest creek, but I guess that this shouldn’t have been surprising since the cooling system–along with everything else–had not been serviced for the car’s entire life.

We were able to get the radiator welded at a John Deere tractor dealer, but the car’s owner balked at the cost of flushing the cooling system and the cost of a 50/50 water/antifreeze mixture, so the tractor dealer just filled up the radiator with plain water, and we were on our way.

We actually managed to complete the bulk of our southward-bound trip without incident, but had to stop on the way back to NJ for spark plug & point replacement at a somewhat dodgy-looking garage in the boondocks. The car’s owner resisted spending any money, but the engine was running so badly at that point that he really had no choice but to pay a few bucks to keep the engine running so that we could get home.

Within about a year or so, the Maverick in question finally quit, as a result of the engine seizing. Naturally, it seized because, in addition to not believing in oil changes, the owner also didn’t believe in checking the oil & adding as necessary.

The real kicker is that this guy trashed Ford for making “such an unreliable car”, and he bought another make of car to abuse for a few years–until he destroyed that one also.

If you were writing fiction, you probably couldn’t make up idiocy like this guy’s approach to car ownership.

VDC,good grief! I’ve seen the type,brings to mind the Boss Ladies 11 HP Snapper mower,the outside of the air cleaner looked clean,but that was because the came through from the inside out’anyway the engine became so wore out it hardly turn the mower blade,for some reason they bought a new set of lifts to put on the blade but not a new engine or blade,the extra drag from the the new lifts made it even sorrier-Kevin

Ok, Story that just happened. I was in line at subway this afternoon, there was a mom and two kids in front of me in line who came out of a late model suburban. They were in line and I managed to overhear that they were driving a total of 6 hours today to take little billy to a baseball game and back.

Well they were getting sale price subs, for the sale price you get what you get, if you want extra its .75 cents extra per topping. The mother tried getting an extra topping and she made the sandwich maker take it off after it was put on the sub when she found out it would be .75 cents.

So were driving 6 hours in a 50k dollar suburban that gets 20mpg at best on the highway, but we are not going to spend an extra .75 cents. I almost piped up and gave her 3 quarters since she was whining about it so loudly…

I bet that suburban gets minimum maintenance!

Again, I understand, for alot of people .75 cents is worth saving, but a suburban costs at least .22 cents a mile in just fuel costs, I find it all rather amusing.

Driving a Suburban, but cheaping out on lunch = false logic

2 of my favorite cheapo stories, my friends dad used to get the drain oil from a shop for his diy oil changes, figured it was probably better than what he had. Lady at tire shop, "I could have gone another 2 or 300 miles if it were not for that gravel driveway.

Most car buyers only focus on the monthly payments, and do not budget for any repairs or maintenance. A couple of six packs and a bottle of Jack Daniels usually win out over a needed oil and filter change.

When I advise a potential car buyer on a new car I mention that over its life (15-25 years) the car will need its original cost in maintenance, repairs and tires. They usually don’t believe me initially. After sitting down with them and listing all the things needed over those years and miles, it dawns on them that “ownership cost” is a real thing. The AAA publishes annual costs, but they are for trading the car every 4-5 years and the figures are way too high.

Cars, like teeth, need upkeep and preventive care is by far the most economical and “painless”.

My son took the 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass I owned at the time to college in the fall of 1992. I told him that in cold weather to keep the tank full. Well, he didn’t heed my advice and left campus to run an errand on a very cold day, but only got a block off campus before the car sputtered and died. I had given him an AMOCO motor club membership. The wrecker driver thought it was the fuel pump, but my son didn’t have the money so he had the car towed back to campus. When he called me, I said that I thought that the gas line might be frozen and recommended that he purchase a can of gas line antifreeze at the store down the street. I told him to add the can to the tank and when the weather got above freezing to start the car. He was worried about the cost of the gas line antifreeze and I said it should be about a $1. A couple of days later, he called back and said he was able to start the car–it ran rather raggedly at first, but then settled down to a smooth idle. He filled the tank and then told me that I was wrong on the price of the gas line antifreeze–he got a can for 49 cents. Well, it turned out that one of his classmates had the same problem with a car. When my son mentioned that he should try the gas line antifreeze, this guy thought, instead of paying 49 he would try something else. He worked at the horse stable and thought if he threw some warm manure under the back of the car, it would melt the ice and he would save 49 cents. The only effect was that it made his car smell like horse poop.

I know what you mean. I hear people with a 3 year old car tell me that they don’t have the money for an oil change. I tell them that then they don’t have the money for a new or rebuilt engine OR a new car so they should do their best to keep this one running.

I have heard the same about people who buy a luxury car for status purposes. They don’t have enough money to pay for the gas and maintenance that it needs. Crazy. In regards to the OP, I drive a 1994 Geo Metro along with two pickups. The Metro as well as the pickups get fully synthetic oil. One of the pickups and the Metro have had some rust issues I have had to keep on top of. Metros are notorious for rusting out, destroying the car. This little car gets me around 55mpg and is plenty reliable. Sure, I wouldn’t want to get in a serious accident but the little car is pretty amazing for what it is. Everything is so simple and easy to maintain. I can even lift the entire tiny 3 cylinder engine by myself.

I have heard that many smaller/cheaper cars like Kia have a much lower resale value than others. This isn’t because the car is a bad car when new, but because the average person buying one has barely enough money to pay for the car, much less the maintenance. So, if you buy one new and take care of it, it will be a great car but the odds of getting a well-maintained used one is much less. The Geo was the same way. People viewed them as a disposable car or simple didn’t take care of them and made them that way. It seems to make sense that if you don’t have a ton of money, you should preserve and take care of what you have but their thinking is why they are in the situation they are in.

I repair and sell computers. People will bring one in and tell me “It is a good computer. I bought it from Wal-Mart.” The thing cost like $300 on sale and is running slow. My response is often something like “It is NOT a good computer as you bought it at Wal-Mart.” It is like the people who buy the cheapest stuff expect it to be top of the line for some reason. I get this in my sales. I was clearing out some old junk and sold them for $50 a piece. People actually called and asked if it came with a wireless mouse and keyboard as well as a flat screen monitor! The people who bring in the cheap stuff always expect it fixed for nothing. It is always far worse off and needs lots of work, partly because it was cheap junk and partly because the people smoked around it and everything is clogged with tar and nicotine.

The ones that always get me are the ones who bring in a computer bought on Black Friday or from Wal-Mart a week after they bought it and ask me how they can speed it up. I tell them what it would cost in parts and labor to speed it up, BUT that they would be better off to get another computer for less money than it would cost me to fix their cheapo as this well get them a better computer for less money. Anyway, people tell me it was such a great deal so they bought the cheapest one. I have to tell them it wasn’t a great deal as they will be essentially spending more money than they would have paid for a decent one from the start to either upgrade or replace the one they bought for cheap.

I have had people with a pretty nice computer not want to spend any money removing a virus as it had gotten a virus once before. They complain and tell me it is a terrible computer while all my tests show it if fine otherwise. To me, a computer is like a car. They need periodic work and people don’t seem to understand that. You cannot just run one forever and not have to do anything, otherwise the computer will stop functioning.

@ cwatkin

Well said, I know the Yugo earned some of its reputation, however I think a big part of why those cars were “junk” is many people who bought them treated them as a disposable car.

A dealer I worked for became a Yugo dealer back in the 80s (one of the first in the U.S. I think) and rumblings were that I might be the designated Yugo repair guy. I left right before this happened.

They sold those cars for 3995 brand new and people would complain about lack of power, noisy, tinny feel, not much road holding ability, etc, etc. What do they expect for a scrap price Econo-box?

Most dealers took those cars on for one reason; as a cheap car incentive to generate traffic onto the lot where the sales people could hopefully steer them into something much more expensive.

I always figured they sure would beat walking. Its akin to what Cwatkin said about people buying the cheapest computer they can find and then complaining about the perfomance.

Who remembers Honda’s beginnings in the US?

I seem to recall that the very first Hondas sold here were tiny, rust-prone, underpowered, no-frills POS vehicles which were considered barely better than a golf cart

As the Virginia Slims magazine ads used to say . . .

“You’ve come a long way, baby”