Yes, I’m Addicted to My Car

Ok,  it has crossed my mine over the years on if I really need a car or not.  After all having a car isn’t cheap and it would encourage me to use public transit and a bike more if I didn’t have a car.   You see once you include depreciation, insurance, maintenance and gas your easily looking at $4000+ a year to keep a car on the road so there is a significate amount of savings required to keep a car in retirement (about $100,000).

Yet if I had any questions about me keeping a car that went out the window last week when I had some car problems.  You see my battery died.  So l got a boost and then drove around to charge the battery back up.  No problem right?  I tried the car the next morning.  Nothing, it didn’t even try to turn over.  So now I’m looking at having my car in the shop over Christmas.  I’m pissed.

I also realize that I really do NEED a vechile for the next few days.  Afterall using the bus or even a cab when you have two small kids in car seats sucks with -40C and lower windchills.  So I break down and rent a car for a few days until I can get everything sorted out.  Then during a discussion with a co-worker I realize that when charging a battery from dead empty you really need to be doing some highway driving to get a decent charge (especially at -30C temperatures).  I only did some in city driving, so I’m actually having a faint hope that the problem isn’t the battery but rather the charge on the battery.

So after borrowing a trickle charger from a friend I charge the thing up and it starts great.  Yet the real test was to come.  I left the car alone for 24 hours and then started it again. IT LIVES!  So now I don’t need to take my car into the shop over the holidays.  Yes I’m very happy and realize I’m a total car addict and I’m ok with that.

Also it occurs to me that having a second car is rather a strange concept.  I can easily rent a car for about $50/day plus gas.  So overall I can rent a car for about 80 days before having a second car becomes cheaper.  So far in seven years with my car I’ve had to do this once.  I think I’m ahead overall.

4 thoughts on “Yes, I’m Addicted to My Car”

  1. Just a brief note: if you live in a semi-major city, it is often worthwhile to look into car sharing programs. Often rates come out far cheaper than insuring a car for the entire month, and it’s extremely green too – you’re driving newer cars with better mileage, and many programs will have hybrids. If you’re not a daily commuter but require a car occasionally, this can be the perfect solution.

  2. My experience with batteries…learned from years of living in Winnipeg.

    As part of my routine checking, that I record in a little note book in the glove compartment, I periodically add water to the battery.

    If this is not done the battery will lose it’s ability to hold a charge.

    I also own a battery charger that I can put on the battery when it dies. I have done it in the driveway and in a garage. It saves getting a boast or driving around. I also own a hydrometer for testing the electrolyte. Canadian Tire will have both.

    Problems tend to show up at the weather gets colder and the batteries lose efficiency.

    My car Batteries generally need replacement after about 5 years.

    CM

  3. Christine,

    That’s a good point. Thanks for sharing.

    CM,

    Thanks for the ideas. I’ll check out a few things.

    I also had a chat with a mechanic last night at a dinner and he mentioned my issue might be solved by a battery blanket. I didn’t realize a dead cold battery won’t take a charge until it is somewhat warmed up (~10 minutes of driving). So since most of my driving is short drives I might just be systematically draining my battery during this cold snap.

    Thanks,
    Tim

  4. Living in the far North, I’d second the idea of a battery blanket and taking a high rpm drive (take the car on the highway) even for 10 mins every few days and you shouldn’t have any trouble.

    To save yourself a lot of time and expense and hassle, buy and install a new battery every fourth winter. For the cost of a tow or rental car or several cabs, you eliminate this possibility entirely. You can easily replace a battery yourself and bring the old one back for a recycling refund.

    If you’re having these problems, it may be time for a new battery, especially if the car is 7 years old. If you run the car with a bad battery, you will have much more expensive issues with replacing the alternator that is working too hard.

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