Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bike vs. Beetle Maintenance

If money were no object, the car I would drive would be a VW Beetle.

Oh. Wait. The car I drive is a VW Beetle.

I mean I would have a slightly newer, slightly nicer Beetle with AC.

Anyway, I noticed today before my morning bike ride to campus that I'll need a new front tire soon. Sometime, I'll have to take my bike into the shop for its annual maintenance. I might have them change the tire, although even an mechanical incompetent like me is up to the challenge of changing a bike tire.

When weather does not allow me to ride my bike, I drive, and, unless Audrey claimed it before me, the car I drive is a silver 1998 Beetle.

The recent VW commericals are all wrong. The only true VW game is "slug bug," not "dub" or whatever poor excuse they try.

Anyway, the Beetle was due to 75,000 maintenance today, and it's bottom engine cover has come off. The maintenance, mostly an oil change, was about $140. Getting a new engine cover will be around $450. It will be due for brakes soon, to the tune of around $800.

All of which makes Audrey a bit antsy, she's talking about trading it in after Nina's car is paid off. Me, I'm not so antsy. $800 plus $140 plus $450 is under $1,400, which is only about four months car payments.

Despite the apparent economic pain, it's almost always better to maintain an old car than buy a newer one. What drives the decision to buy is not the cost of maintenance, which, even when it climbs, still usualy pales comapred to car payments. What drives it is the need for reliability.

And despite being a pain to maintain (minimum $80 for oil changes due to fancy oil required by its crazy German engine), the Beetle has been pretty darn trustworthy for the 8 years we've owned it. It has other advantages too--it is a "fat person" car--very little room for passengers in the back seat, but the front seats are the most spacious of any vehicle I have ever encountered--the bubble shape equals huge leg and head room and the doors are very wide and open very wide for very wise people.

Anyway, what does this have to do with a bike? The Beetle keeps chugging along partly because I use it so little, becuase I bike whenver I can. And bike maintenance is very cheap--less than an oil change a year. I'm keeping myself healthier and saving a ton of money every time I hop on the trusty old FrankenTrek and commute to work.

Today was totally gorgeous. If I had it all to do again, I might have put the bike in the back of the Beetle--could have come home and mowed rather than watching "Law and Order" at VW dealership lounge.

Done it before. A bike is the best spare tire there is, and helps control the size of my corporal spare tire.

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