Keeping Cheap Transportation Cheap: How To Budget For And Handle Major Repair Issues On Your Hooptie-Mobile


The uncertainty of the economy along with stagnating job prospects in many industries has made getting out of debt a major goal for many American families. For many, this process will require eliminating car payments by choosing to drive older vehicles that can be purchased for cash, instead of taking on more debt in the form of an auto loan. Lovingly called a number of names, including jalopy, hooptie, rust bucket or others, these older vehicles provide cheap transportation so that families can focus on paying off student loans, mortgages and other debt. While these older cars may have some cosmetic quirks or minor issues, most are pretty dependable. However, since avoiding debt is the goal, it is still important to find ways to handle unexpected repairs or have funds available to replace these cars, as needed, to avoid taking out another car loan. If you are currently (and proudly) driving cheap transportation while working on a higher goal, the following information will help you be ready when you need to repair or replace your current hooptie-mobile.

DIY regular maintenance and minor repairs

With no vehicle warranty or dealer maintenance program to handle oil changes, lubrication and other minor issues, hooptie drivers can save money and time by learning to maintain these vehicles and do any minor repairs that might be needed. Inexpensive online and paperback copies of a repair manual can be purchased for just about any make or model vehicle that will illustrate basic maintenance and repair steps. 

Learn how to do a simple periodic vehicle inspection to help you learn to spot repair issues before they become major expenses. Examples of easily detected visible and audible clues that something is wrong with your car include the following: 

  • uneven wear patterns on tires
  • stains developing beneath the parked car that could mean the transmission, cooling system, engine, brake lines, or other systems are leaking
  • unusual noises when starting, driving or shifting the car
  • a feeling of hesitation when accelerating 
  • a spongy feel when applying the brakes
  • issues with the electrical or ignition system

Rebuild and repair, when possible

If your hooptie-car is in fairly good overall condition and you or someone you know is mechanically inclined, it may be worthwhile to consider making major repairs, such as rebuilding the engine or replacing the transmission, when needed. In many cases, any damaged parts, such as the cylinder head, can be purchased separately from a reputable auto parts supplier like CHI Cylinder Heads International and replaced as part of an engine rebuild process. 

Know when to replace

Like all good things, however, your relationship with your current hooptie-mobile will someday come to an end. To prepare for this, start now to build a replacement fund by setting aside at least $100.00 per month to be used only for transportation replacement costs. If you drive your current car for as little as two years, you will then have at least $2,400.00 on hand to replace your car when the time arrives. 

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