Life can be so
difficult at time. My middle son is working two jobs trying to earn money before he
gets married this summer. He gets up in the morning at 2:30 AM, and drags home
at 9:30 PM. What happens to him? The engine in his Chevy Blazer blows out.
What to do?
The truck is almost
15 years old. Yet it looks great- new tires, tinted windows, no body damage, and
a lot of money has gone into maintaining it. Now the engine is gone.
Is it time to buy a new vehicle or is it worth replacing the engine?
As my son sat at my
kitchen table with his head in his hands, with my husband out of town, I
realized that I was going to have to help make this decision. He was depleted
physically and emotionally. Not only was his transportation gone, but also his
place to sleep for an hour or so in between jobs.
Many thoughts ran through my head. If he
bought another vehicle, it would have to be another used truck. It could have
just as many problems. He would probably have 3 years of payments, just as he
was beginning his marriage.
He couldn't sell the
Blazer to help with the down payment on a new vehicle because of the blown
engine. He couldn't sell it to a private party, and he wasn't in a good position
to negotiate with a car dealer either. How about salvage value? What would that
I needed to know how
much the vehicle was worth. My husband is an insurance adjuster so he has a Blue
Book, but you can also find it on the Internet at:
According to the
Blue Book, that Chevy Blazer was still worth over $4,500, which is hard to
believe because of the age and mileage.
However, it would be
so easy to go into a car dealership and sign a piece of paper and drive off with
a running vehicle. If we decided to put in a new engine, it would be in the shop
for quite a while, and I would be stranded without a car, as I would (as
mothers do) let him drive my car while his was being repaired. The "quick
fix" for the problems was so tempting.
Then I thought of my
in-laws. I don't know many people more frugal than they are, or with more
savings on so little income. They don't even have a touch tone phone in
their home. They lived through WWII in Germany. They knew what it was like to go
hungry. They save their money. I thought of the car my mother-in-law drives. It
is on it's 3rd engine.
That was the final
deciding factor. I started calling around. The shop to where the truck was towed
offered to put in a new engine for $3,000. That seemed too steep. After calling
around, I found a shop that would put in a rebuilt engine for $1,900. It would
have a brand new motor, refurbished parts, and best of all, come with a 5 year
or 50,000 mile guarantee.
They were true to
their word. They had it up and running in 7 working days, at the agreed upon
price. Thankfully, I later found out it was a wise decision. It was a good price
and a good guarantee. My son would be able to pay off the bill before he got
married, and his truck would have a brand new engine with a good guarantee. His
yearly car license tax, which is high in this state, would remain low, and there
would be no car payments.
As for the shop we
towed the vehicle into originally, they tried to get the truck from us- said
they had someone "interested" in it. I wonder how much they would have given my
son for it? Not as much as it was worth, I am sure.
I'm sure that some
of you have the skills to replace an engine yourself, and have done it before.
If you have the skills, that is great. For the rest of us, remember that the
frugal way is not always the easiest.
It is now a year and
a half later than when the engine was replaced. The truck is running great, and
has been very reliable transportation for my son and his new wife. Think of all
the car payments they have saved. If my son had been in debt, they probably
would not have qualified to be able to buy the FHA Government Repo Home they
bought and fixed up right after they got married. That home has gone up more
than $20,000 in one year. So how much money did they save putting in that
engine? A lot!
About the Author: Nikki Willhite,
mother of 3 and an interior design graduate, has been writing and publishing
articles on the topic of
frugal living for over a
decade. Visit her at
- where you will find hundreds of frugal living tips and articles. Frugal
Happy Families- more than just money!