To Fix / Not Fix? The $1,800 Question

31 Jul

Confession: I form emotional attachments to my cars.

My first car was a hunter green 1995 Saturn. It had wheat cloth interior. It was a wonderful first car and I was reluctant to give it up when it started to decline. It was replaced by a new Saturn, this time pale blue-gray and curvier than its predecessor. My husband named it Snow Cat for its ability to back out of our condo parking lot without getting stuck in the snow pack.

Around 2008, I crashed the Snow Cat into a guard rail en route to New Mexico. The insurance company declared it totaled and instead of paying to have it fixed, we decided to put the money we received toward my student loans and carpool for three years. When we drove away from the lot where it was parked, I sobbed. I felt so terrible for having harmed it, like it was a living, breathing member of my family.

In 2011, we purchased the car I drive today. It’s slate with leather interior and makes me feel like a million bucks when I’m in it. I beam with pride whenever someone compliments its roomy interior. It’s an object designed to get me from A to B but thanks to marketing’s firm grasp on my psyche, it’s so much more than that. It’s an extension of my personal style.

Earlier this season, Mother Nature decided to remind us frail humans of her unrequited strength and dropped golf ball-sized hail onto parts of Northern Colorado. In less than five minutes, every person’s car was customized with dimples of various sizes and depths. I had hoped that parking under a tree would save my sleek beauty from any damage but alas, the tree canopy was no match for Mother Nature’s wrath.

I went through the motions of contacting my insurance company and coordinating a repair estimate. My husband went so far as to schedule an appointment with the repair place since they were already booked with claims from other locals impacted by the storm. It took less than a week for my claim to be approved by the insurance company and all I had to do was give them approval to restore my baby to her former glory.

And then, I hesitated.

Aside from a few new beauty marks, my car continues to be totally functional. Other drivers do not recoil in horror when I pull up next to them at a stop light. In fact, enveloped in its perpetual robe of fine dust and dog hair, the divots are barely noticeable.

And yet, I paid GOOD MONEY for this car and keeping it looking sexy is (right or wrong) important to me. I pay insurance premiums so that when things like this happen, I can repair them at a relatively low cost. And while I have no plans to trade in the car before it travels its last mile, I have a rather selfish desire to keep it looking pristine.

I waffled on this decision for six weeks. Back in forth in my head, I deliberated my options. I can pay $500 to have it repaired or I can pocket $1,800 and feel a tinge of guilt every time one of the dimples catches in the sunlight.

The deciding factor ended up being a car wash. Despite my love for my vehicle’s appearance, I am not great at keeping it clean, especially during monsoon season when rain is a weekly visitor. If I noticed the hail damage when it was clean, I was going to have it repaired. If it didn’t bother me, I’d pocket the cash.


It doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t ruin that moment when I’m approaching my car after work and thinking, “Damn, what a fine-looking ride.” You don’t notice the dimples from a short distance away, and as such I can’t justify getting it repaired when I’d much rather save the cash for a rainy day.

(Though not the literal rainy day that occurred just 24 hours after washing my car).

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