How long should a car last?

I know I’ve ranted about auto repairs in the past, so just bear with me on this one…

I just picked my car up from the shop about an hour ago – they were doing an “estimate” for my little squeaky air conditioner folley that first began to rear its ugly head last month, and unfortunately I was already expecting a hefty toll for that … and yet instead I came back with a whole laundry list of crap to be done:

  • sqeaky AC (replace compressor) – $760
  • replace front brakes (pads & rotors) – $296
  • replace rear brakes (pads only) – $160
  • replace front & rear shocks & struts – $965
  • replace tires – $416
  • flush random stuff – $275
  • GRAND TOTAL – $3,400 (after tax)

Surprisingly enough, I don’t exactly have over three grand just laying around, so I guess I’m going to have to just pick away at the list a little at a time, with a safety-based priority … which sucks because I live in Florida and AC is not an option, it’s a necessity! I know, technically so is being able to stop the car, and the AC is still working now – it just makes some ugly noises, although I asked what the worst that could happen if I just let the noises go and the shop’s response was, “I don’t know – it could just kill your AC, or it could kill your alternator, too.”

Wonderful – that one wasn’t even on the list yet!

Anyways, the actual point of this whole rant wasn’t so much to complain about the bill itself, but more so the need for all of these repairs in the first place. My car is a 2006 Chrysler Sebring, which I bought in 2007. I’ve only had the thing for four years and I’ve still got over a year of payments left to make on it, so I just can’t help but wonder how long should a vehicle actually last when you’re dropping tens of thousands of dollars on it?! I mean, I already had a nightmare with Chrysler about this car not long after I bought it because they refused to honor the warranty when the AC was leaking all over the floor and ruined the carpet on the passenger side, but frankly, it doesn’t really make a very convincing argument for buying American if this crap isn’t even going to last until we’re done paying the thing off!!!

Of course, it doesn’t help that this whole avalanche is all coming down at once – just the AC alone would’ve hurt us for about a month or so, but that whole list is going to set us back for the rest of the year easily, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t have any more problems on top of these in the near future. Maybe I just don’t have reasonable expectations – the car has 80,000 miles on it right now, so I don’t expect it to be pristine five years after leaving the factory, but honestly, I’ve already put a couple of thousand into this thing for repairs even before this – did I just get stuck with a lemon?

Not that Chrysler will even be around when I go to buy my next car anyways, but I’m definitely going to have to consider my other options when it comes time to replace this one in a few years … if it even makes it that long.

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