When things don’t go as expected: Car edition

Regular maintenance with your car will prevent these scary signals from popping up. However, when you have an 5+ old car expect major repairs and bills. Photo courtesy of www.convoyautorepair.com

People tell you to save for grad school.  But what does that money go towards?  The most visible channels of your savings goes to tuition, fees, and living expenses.  However, one of the most unexpected expenses I faced during my 1.5 years in grad school is with my car.

Now, it is your choice to have a car in grad school.  I worked three years before attending grad school, so I had already purchased a car.  My car is about 5 years-old now, and in car-age that is equivalent to the middle ages.  Five years is generally when major parts need to be replaced and my car began showing its wear and tear.

My first major replacement was my car brakes.  Bloomington doesn’t get huge amounts of snow, but the city is generous with the salting to prevent any accidents.  However, building up salt can cause rusting underneath your car.  Unfortunately, my brakes began rusting over and I needed to replace them this summer.  The bill was a painful $500, but it was necessary for my safety and for the health of my car.

The second major replacement was my windshield.  I was driving to a wedding in Omaha, NE last June.  During my 12 hour drive, a small pebble hit my windshield making a toothpick-sized crack in it.  Within a span of two days, the crack grew larger because of the Midwest heat.  I had to replace the windshield for another $400.

Just before winter break, one of my front tires got a sidewall tear when I accidentally hit a curb.  Not only did I get a flat tire, but I realized that all of my tires were worn out, so I needed to replace the entire set!  Another $500 bill!

Unfortunately, car insurance did not cover any of my car bills because they fall under general wear and tear costs.  So, all of these bills came from my pocket.  So the lesson here is to factor in car maintenance into your budget and savings!  Factor in monthly gas money, regular oil changes (should be around $30-40 bucks depending on who you take it to and if you can find a coupon!), and surprise maintenance.  Taking care of the car can also be stressful, so I usually like to ask classmates, professors, or friends on where they take their car and to get recommendations.

For more information on how to take care of your car, I would suggest visiting: http://www.cartalk.com/content/car-info