There are so many ways to suffer in this world, but in the United States financial losses seem to be the most popular way to experience loss and sadness. In other countries, which aren’t as materially blessed, they suffer things like loss of food, shelter, loved ones. It makes me wonder why we spend so much time worrying over losses of money when it rarely leads to a loss of our basic necessities. So, I really don’t get why after years of being pretty happy with my situation, the loss of my car’s function and the associated price tag has me down.
If this had been the me of yesteryear writing, I would have squarely put the blame on Nissan. Even though I do feel they shoulder much of the responsibility, the fact is that it will take years for them to ever come forward and make restitution for the millions of people who bought Nissan Altima cars with the 4L engine. Finding someone to blame doesn’t resolve my situation. I have to figure out how to get this done myself, if I want to resolve this as quickly as possible. Yeah, Nissan had a recall, big deal! They aren’t fixing any major issues because it’s obvious their poor engineering will bankrupt the company when word gets out. This car has had a ridiculous amount of recalls and many complaints about how it fails regardless. I do believe we create everything to our benefit, but sometimes we don’t get why we create what we do. This car thing is one of those times…
My Nissan Altima
I bought a 2002 Nissan Altima and it has over 80,000 miles on it by now. Last December, it started to act up, stalling when I cranked the engine. I put in over $800 of fixes trying to figure out what was wrong when I saw the recall notice details. I began to do some investigating and found out that despite their generous offer to replace this part, that it can lead to damage in the engine and they aren’t willing to do anything about that! They did put in the part, but they said they thought I might have a head gasket leak due to the car overheating. That car has never overheated due to driving, however, that part can cause problems with the engine overheating, from what I understand. I never noticed anything on my dashboard and I never had to stop for an overheated car. The furthest I ever took it during that time was 45 minutes out of the city. So, now on top of $800 worth of fixes I had to do, I am facing another $1,200 on top of that for a head gasket repair. But, that’s not the end of this financial disaster.
What’s Really Wrong With the Car?
I don’t think anyone really knows. The most honest technician I got said that he could replace the engine with a refurbished one for $3,000 to $5000 and at least he could guarantee that work. No one is willing to guarantee that fixing a head gasket leak will fix the car. And, what exactly is wrong with it? The SERVICE ENGINE SOON light is on. That little nitpicky light has cost me more money than any single innovation of man. The car runs and it does stall on occasion, but not enough for me to warrant dumping thousands of dollars on this car to turn off a bloody light. I only drive it around town, otherwise, I work from home. However, the car is due for inspection and no doubt it will fail with that light on. But, no one seems to know how to fix the car, so that the light stays off, and I still owe money on it. And, in a way, this puts me in the same situation as millions of other Nissan owners right now who are trying to figure out what to do with these lemon cars.
So, when the Dalai Lama says to take our moments of suffering and try to make that help us become more compassionate for others, I think I have millions of people I can connect with and empathize with – all Nissan Altima customers. It may make me feel better that I am not suffering alone, and adds meaning to my worthless loss, but it doesn’t resolve my basic problem – how to get this car to be in working condition. Right now, I am very limited as to how far I can go out of my way, since the car may break down any minute (according to others). I was told not to drive it on the highway either. It’s one thing to accept a loss another thing to have to replace it as soon as possible.
I’ve looked at this a million ways and I’m not sure there’s a tried and true solution here. I don’t use the car for getting to work, since I work from home. So, I’ve mulled it over and here are a few things I could do. I haven’t decided yet. Maybe someone reading here has another suggestion.
- Take the car in and get the radiator flushed and use Bar’s Block Sealer and hope it takes and it really is a head gasket leak. Cost? Maybe a couple hundred dollars plus $10 or so for the Bar’s block sealer.
- Don’t do anything. Leave it as is, take it in to get it inspected and let it fail. Appeal to the city to waive the inspection due to the cost of the repairs. Cost: Some initiative and luck.
- Stop paying my car payments and let it get repossessed. It’s not a good car anyways, why keep paying on it? I don’t like this option because I feel I’m screwing my bank. It’s bad enough I’m getting screwed. Cost: My credit rating.
- Replace the entire engine and take several thousands of dollars loss on this car. No guarantee something else won’t make it kick the bucket early too. Cost: $3,000 to $5,000 dollars that I don’t have.
- Call my lawyer and have them sue Nissan. Cost: Too much time, hassle, and money? No guarantee the car will be fixed during that time. Still won’t solve car issue in time.
- Manifest a new, free, car and keep paying off the old one so no one gets screwed further. This is a biggie for me, I won’t deny it. But, it’s the solution I favor. Whether I can actually do it soon, that’s a totally different question. I have looked at some advertising agencies that offer free cars, but don’t know if I qualify or which are legit. Cost: Faith and trust in the universe.
Have I missed any other options?
*Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license by Jan Tik