After being carless since May, I decided a few weeks back to look for a cheap used car to get me around this winter and to use to visit the family in IL. I found what I thought was a great deal on a 1992 Toyota Camry. The car looked pretty good and seemed to drive fairly well, but there was something wrong with the brakes. The guy who sold it to me was the original owner--well passed down from his dad. It sounded good--regular oil changes, timing belt changed every 60,000 miles, new radiator, new tires, et cetera. He told me that he had taken it to a mechanic who said that the brake lines would probably need to be replaced due to rust and that it would cost $400-500. I bought the car for a VERY low price on a Sunday morning.
On Monday, I called a local shop with a good reputation and scheduled to bring it in for an estimate on that Friday. On Tuesday, I went to the DMV, transferred the title and paid my taxes. I was hoping to drive the car to see my sister and Braycen, as he had just been born the night before. As I came back out to the car, I noticed a large pool of something under the car on the drivers side between the front and back doors. I drove it into a full-service gas station on my way home and the mechanic told me that it was gas. Gas! He said it was VERY unsafe to drive. So, I rented my second car for the week and went to IL without the Camry.
On Friday, I brought the car into the shop and they didn't get an estimate to me until the following Monday. $1125. Yep. Apparently the brake lines and the fuel lines needed major repair and would take them an estimated 11 hours of labor (@ $85/hr, mind you). So, I freaked out a little and cried a lot and then went to my bank with the title and crossed fingers. I was able to get a loan to cover the cost of this expensive repair. So here we are on the following Thursday and these repairs have finally been completed for a total of $1224.13. At least I can say that the car is fixed, right? Wrong.
So, the shop calls me to tell me that the car is ready, but they also have more bad news. Apparently the clutch is going to go out at any moment. The lady on the phone feels compelled to dramatize this news further by telling me that the mechanic said, "I'd be surprised if it makes it home." WTF? So, she is so kind as to be prepared with an estimate of what it will cost to replace the clutch. Get this--$1076. Seriously. I refuse to cry and throw a fit but, should you see or talk to me, just know that I am inside.
1. Always have a car inspected before you buy it.
2. If you are hoping to buy a "cheap car", you may just get what you ask for.