Thursday, February 22, 2007

Getting ahead is impossible

Overtime is a glorious thing when you know the extra money has nowhere to go except into savings. There aren't any bills that need to be paid; there aren't any must-have items that the money needs to be spent on. For once, the extra money can go straight into a new car fund that hopefully will have enough for a good down payment at the end of the year.

... Yeah right.

I'm the proud owner of a VW Jetta that knows when I have extra cash. It knows that I'm ready to sell it up the river, and therefore it works hard to show me who's boss ... on a monthly basis. I can't ever seem to get ahead with this car, and I'm about to lose my mind.

Last night, I had to have my car jumped off after work. That seemed to do the trick, because this morning my car started just fine. I had some monster corrosion on my battery posts, so I figured that was the problem. Nonetheless, I took the car to Advance Auto to get the battery tested.

After cleaning the corrision off, the man hooked my battery up to a meter. Everything checked out just fine to my relief. But I knew it could be something worse, so I asked if he could check my alternator. He did, and of course, the news was bad. Instead of the 60 amps it should have registered, there were only .4 amps.

He asked if my battery light had come on recently. I said no. He asked if I had restarted it since it had been jumped. I said yes - five or six times since then. He scratched his head and hooked my car up again.

... Again, the meter read .4 amps. So he told me to come back in four hours ... that maybe the corrosion affected the alternator. It may work itself out, he said.

So, that's what I did. After running some errands all afternoon, I dropped back by Advance and had my car hooked up again. This time the news was worse ... only .1 amps. Yikes.

The guy was puzzled as to how I could have driven all over the city today, starting my car and stopping it and starting it again a number of times without having to be jumped off. But, there is no doubt that the alternator is bad. Very bad.

So, from what I can tell, I'll be handing over about $350 to get it fixed tomorrow.

What I really want to know is how can I buy a new car if I keep digging into my savings to repair my old one? I am so frustrated.