Driveshaft Drama: “Getting Healthy Requires a Budget”

Truck is a gonner ©2011Something is clunking in my truck.  CLANKing even.  *SIGH*  This is not a good thing.

The health of my truck affects everything, even my health!  I have to have a vehicle to drive the 44 mile round trip to and from work or else I don’t have a job!  If I don’t have a job, I’m on the streets.

And let me tell ya, those street people don’t look too healthy!  And we won’t even THINK about what all this will do to my budget and how it will affect my ability to dance and compete!  Eeeeeeeeekkkk  Urrrrrrkkkk  Ugh!

So, sit back, or lean forward, your choice, and enjoy my tale of woe and angst while I use the process of telling you about my tale of woe and angst as a way to get my thoughts in order and come to a decision about “OMG What am I going to do??????!!!!!!”

But I digress…  😉  Back to the clunking and clanking…

Saturday, yesterday, at lunch I went out to my truck, got in, turned the key and *CLICK*.  Nada, nothing, not a chirp, not a peek.  Not a single erg of power.   Not good.

I got out, went to the front of the truck and did what every guy in America does when there is something wrong with a vehicle…I opened the hood.  Usually this action, as every lady in America can tell you, produces no positive effect other than making the guy feel all butch and manly.  But in this case, I actually discovered the source of the problem almost instantly:  the terminal connector thing-a-ma-bob on the end of one of my battery cables had fractured and had come loose from the battery so the truck wasn’t getting any power.

Feeling all butch and manly, I flipped the driver’s seat forward, pulled out my plastic tarp and my jack.  I went back up front, put the broken cable end back in place, whereupon there were lots of clicks, beeps and the blower from the defroster fired back up.  I then laid the tarp carefully over the broken thing-a-ma-bob and put the heavy jack on top of the tarp.  The weight from the jack kept everything in place while the tarp prevented the metal jack from creating a short.  With power restored, I started up my truck.  Cool huh?

Reveling in my butchness and manliness…  Don’t you just love the English language?  You get to make up new words by sticking old endings on them.  We got that from the Germans by the way.

But I digress…  😉

Reveling in my butchness and manliness, I drove my truck a short distance, just a couple blocks, to Speedee‘s, where I get all my routine maintenance done: oil changes, radiator flushes, rear differentials lubed etc.  The guys there are super nice!  Because I’m a loyal customer and because my “repair” only would take 10 minutes, the mechanic got me in right away and slotted me in front of two ongoing repairs (each major ones taking hours).  Many thanks to the guys there!

So far, this all seems like no big deal, right?  Just wait, the kicker is coming…

With two shiny new battery cable terminal thing-a-ma-bobs connecting my battery cables to the my battery, I cheerfully cough up $60 and count myself as getting off easy.

Da-da-da-DUM!!!!!!  Que the sinister music that indicates to the audience, that something dire is about to happen.  The “audience,” it should be noted, is you, dear readers, all three of you who are actually reading this blog.

I get in my truck.  I roll down the window, because it was actually quite nice outside, crank the truck up, and proceed to zip down the block to QuickTrip to grab some granola bars and a couple of bananas for “lunch” since I just spent the bulk of my lunch hour dealing with the truck.

Just in case you missed it…  The TRUCK WINDOW IS DOWN!  This is an important detail. Take note.

Over the past week, as I’ve shifted gears, I’ve noticed a NEW sound, or rather sounds: very soft not very loud clunks.  However,  I recently had my clutch replaced, so I figured that the “new noise” was just a new “different noise” not a new “bad noise” and didn’t really think much about it.

HOWEVER, cue the ominous music again…

With the window up, the “new noise” was a muted non-dangerous-nothing-to-worry-about sound.  However, with the window DOWN, it turned into a  “OH CRAP!  I-need-to-take-my-truck-in-right-away-to-have-it-looked-at sound and a I-shouldn’t-even-be-driving-my-truck-at-all sound.”  Aaaaaaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

Oh the drama of it all!

Yes, I know I’m being silly.  But I figure that I’d better laugh about the situation or else I’ll break down and cry.  This is a serious development!

Ok, so I now have this LOUD potentially expensive-to-repair clanking, clunking noise coming from underneath my truck.  Add this to some known issues which I’ve previously decided can wait until my credit cards are paid down:

  1. Leak in the filler hose.  The filler hose for the n0n-butch, non-car people is the hose that runs from where you stick the nozzle of the gas pump handle down underneath to your gas tank.  Well, whenever I fill up, I smell gas and there is about 1-2 ozs of gas that ends up on the ground instead of in my tank.  Not a huge problem because the leak is high enough on the hose that gas from the tank doesn’t slosh up and leak out through wherever the very small crack is locate.  Nobody tell the car inspection people about this!  Ok?!  I have to get it inspected next month.  Estimated Cost to Repair: $600
  2. And…my gas gauge doesn’t work but since the gas gauge is attached to the fuel pump that is attached to the gas tank, the pump has to be replaced to fix the gauge.  Who designed this piece of crap anyway?  Estimated Cost to Repair: $600
  3. And…I was hit from behind a couple of months ago and just haven’t gotten around to taking it in to have it fixed.  The other driver’s insurance is paying for it but I’ve had to cancel both times I’ve set something up.  No cost to me other than hassle and time.
  4. And…I have this huge dent in my driver’s side door.  It’s been there for years and doesn’t affect anything functional., but it bugs me.  Estimated Cost to Repair: $800
  5. And…The truck needs to be repainted.  It is a 1994 Mazda B3000 series.  And the paint is oxidizing.  Estimated Cost to Repair: $1200

So… five known issues.  Four of which I have to pay to get fixed, if I get them fixed.  We’re looking at $3,200.  Folks, I don’t have THIRTY TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS just lying around!  My credit cards are maxed.

Holy dizzy driveshaft batman!

So, last night I got home, opened up my Quicken program and crunched some numbers.    I  excluded “Fuel / Fluids” as well as “Maintenance” which will be there no matter what you drive, and ended up with a Monthly Average Operating Cost of $251.31 for my current beat up pickup truck.

I checked last night online and found a truck at CarMax that looks right for me, cost, features etc.  Using their handy-dandy “Calculate your monthly payments” widget, I found that the monthly payment can vary widely depending on my interest rates and the length of the loan.  For the purposes of this exercise in “what ifs” I picked something in the middle: $298 a month.

Monthly Payments on a New Truck

Estimated Monthly Payments on a New Truck

But there are some other costs we need to factor into a “new truck”:

  • Estimated Monthly Payment (best guess): $298
  • Estimated Monthly Insurance (best guess): $199
  • Estimated Monthly Average Repairs while paying off the “new ‘used’ truck) 25% of my current repair rate: $37.12


$ 534.12

Current Cost of operating my old truck

$ 251.31


However, while the math is telling me “Keep my old truck” my instincts are telling me that the tipping point has come and I should “Get a new one”.

I know that I have $3200 worth of “optional-it-can-wait” kind of repairs but beyond that there are a lot of unknowns here:

  1. What will the actual insurance rate be for the new truck ?
  2. What will the actual monthly truck payments be for the new truck ?
  3. What will the actual repair rate be for the new truck?
  4. How much will it cost to fix the clanking and clunking noise on my old truck?
  5. What *else* is lurking in the bushes, or in this case, under the hood of my old truck, waiting to pounce?

And that is pretty much where I left it last night.  Exhausted, I fell into bed and to sleep.  Where I had the strangest series of “stress dreams.”

Earlier this year when things were kinda rough, I had a lot of  “stress dreams” on a regular basis.  You know the kind…  endlessly trying to put a square peg in a round hole,  sorting a pile of laundry that keeps replenishing itself, doing a cleaning job that looks like the mop scene starring Mickey Mouse as the “sorcerer’s apprentice” from Fantasia.  You get the idea.  The kind of dream that happens when your nighttime brain is trying to find a solution to the daytime problem that you left unresolved.   Things are better now; I haven’t had any stress dreams in quite a while.  Until last night.  I don’t remember the specifics but I do recall waking up, several times, just enough to think “oh, I’m having a stress dream, it must be about the truck”

I bet you’re asking “So why all the stress?”  Well, here is why:

If I have to take on new truck payments and a higher insurance payment, can I still afford to dance?

And that dear readers, is the million dollar question to which I have no answer.  Yet.

I know I will be able to get healthier over the coming year whether or not I’m competing in dance, but…I’d really rather not go forward without dancing.  I’m sure dance, somehow, somewhere, someway, will be in the picture.  But, I’m not so certain about whether or not I’ll be able to compete.

So dear readers, all eight of you reading this blog, until the next chapter of “As the Boot Turns“…

See ya on the dance floor!

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About TxCowboyDancer

Professional Dance Instructor teaching Country, Ballroom, Swing, Latin and Line Dance. Eleven time Country Dance World Champion.

Posted on Sun, Dec 18, 2011, in Misc and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I imagine New Truck or no New truck – dancing will continue one way or another. Sorry to say MY dancing needs to start up again in 2012. These past two years due to various and asundry things, I have only gone dancing two times. Went Roller Skating a couple weeks ago, and had a blast. I WILL do that again. But I MUST get back to dancing as well. Good luck on the truck – either way. In the here and now you always have enough. :o)


  2. One time I was driving down the road and my car SHUT OFF. completely…. I had rebuilt the entire engine but was stumped. called the tow truck and had it towed home. turned out it was just the battery cable that had come loose from the terminal! so frustrating…


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