Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Unexpected bills, part 1

As the title suggests, there's more to this story. We had a couple of unexpected bills, join the queue of regular expenses, for this time of year. Anyone who owns a home, knows Council (County for the US) rates are due, the first electricity bill arrives, and in our particular case, annual registration for one car and a trailer. Oh, did I mention the insurance too? Car, and home.

Thank goodness, my car rego, comes later in the year. I guess it was feeling left out, and decided to die one afternoon. Not entirely unexpected, as the battery light had appeared on my dashboard for about a month. I assumed it was a dying battery. When it did quit, we simply replaced the battery and thought all was well. Until...

"I'm Givin' Her all She's Got, Captain!"

The day it was booked into Toyota (just to make sure) the battery was completely dead again. Brand new battery! Thankfully, I'm a member of RACQ, so they jump-started the car at home, and checked the issue. It was then, I discovered, I wouldn't be going anywhere. Not driving anyway. They would have to tow my car, into Toyota.

In order to save the brand new, top of the line battery we just purchased, it was best not to drive the vehicle at all. Because the alternator was overcharging the battery. Okay, great to know. New alternator time. Over $700 later though (includes a service and a few extra parts) I had my car back. Crikey!

Truly, I'm grateful RACQ and Toyota, were able to rescue my little sedan. Even though it had to stay in longer than planned. Three days, all up. I've also got another $300+ bill coming in a few months, to fix a few other issues they found. On the whole though, my car is pretty problem free. I rarely have issues with it 99% of the time. Not like the Ford I had, previously.

I'm sure this was smaller, a few months ago!

Gotta love, torn seat-covers, for that true vintage look I've been aiming for. Okay, maybe not? But to appease my DIY, frugal mindset, which had absolutely no place fixing my car at the time, I decided to give my car, some extra care and attention, when it returned home. Best part - it would cost absolutely '0' mullah.

And maybe it will know, I truly do appreciate it, and not try any more drastic attempts for attention, in future.

Matching pair

Both the driver's side, and passenger seat-covers were torn. And nothing says I live in the country, without sealed roads - like dirt, caking the entire carpet. My kids have worked hard, trouncing that inside the vehicle. Actually, it's not that hard. You can see the culprit in the lower left-hand corner. The dirt is just begging to jump inside the car, on the bottom of shoes.

Thankfully, I had the sense to purchase front car-seat covers, in the middle of last year, when on sale. I just hadn't gotten around to installing them. Maybe it's time, when the $700 paid to fix the darn thing, looks like overcapitalising.

Much better! 
Still must work out, all those wrinkles

After the dust settled once again, in our little corner of the world, it was a good reminder how important an emergency fund is. There's virtually no public transport system, in the country (school bus only) so you have to ensure your vehicles are working.

A stroke of good fortune in all this, is my husband happened to be on holidays, when it unfolded. So I didn't have to worry about how the kids would get to the bus and back. Especially when the walk home, looks directly into the afternoon sun, with almost no shade.

Stay tuned, for part two, in the queue of unexpected bills.


  1. Oh cars are a pest when they break. My battery recently died, and I blew a tyre the other day and our new inverter seems to be fried which means no internet until we get a new (bigger) one. gah.

    I'm glad you had your emergency fund to help you when you needed it!


    1. Thanks Emma. The the joys of being off-grid, for you guys though. It will be fantastic once set up, and you know which parts work best. Kind of a theme in my next unexpected bill post, actually. So it's a bit of a learning curve until then. I hope your inverter was covered under warranty, so you don't have to spend much the next time round.

  2. I didn't know an alternator could overcharge a battery; Something new to watch out for! I had to get a new battery recently too, the third in this car in 8 years. Battery guy told me I'd be lucky to get 3 or 4 years out of a battery now. I remember getting 10 years out of the Ford we had before this current car.

    Unexpected bills can really upset the system, but you were right onto it with the emergency fund! Good housekeeping!

    1. I didn't know it was possible either Bev! After he jump-started the car, he put an amp detector on the battery. It was reading 16 amps. Apparently a normal charge doesn't go above 14 amps. Next time you're in the battery place, maybe get them to check the amps coming out the battery, once the engine starts. Or maybe they already did that?

      Now I just have to work at getting that emergency fund, back into a healthy state.

    2. When my last battery died I bought a multimeter to keep a check on the battery in future. I think it measures amps as well, so will have a look. There are some good You Tube videos on how to check a battery with a multimeter.

    3. Multimeter, thanks for that! Now I know what it's called, I can look for one for myself. I have a battery charger, but it's old, so want to be able to check what's actually charged in the battery. If your battery is registering over 14 amps, when the engine is idling, there's a good chance your alternator is faulty, or on it's way out. At least that's what the RACQ technician told me.

  3. Chris, thankfully your hubby was on holidays. Whew! I know what you mean about the dirt as our grass is somewhat patchy these days. At least we have grass though which is probably more than you have down there ;-)

    1. Dave being home, and the cars' ultimate demise, was an incredible coincidence. Couldn't have been timed more perfectly. Yeah, the grass...it needs work, lol.

  4. It's frustrating that so many things come due at the same time, anyway, but then to have something unexpected happen! You are so right about having emergency funds! Seems unfair somehow, but that's life, isn't it?

    1. It's a great incentive, not to go overboard at Christmas though. It's great once I get past that first part of the year, and know everything is covered. The unknowns are what can cause a bit of a pickle.

      I'd love to be able to have enough funds, so I didn't have to purchase insurance. With all the natural disasters, wiping out a lot of areas, on a regular basis though, premiums are jumping up by the hundreds, across the board.

  5. Do love those seat covers! And yes, unplanned for repairs, such a bite in the budget. We have three very old vehicles, average age is 21, and so when one goes on "holiday" we can use the other two until cash makes itself known for repairs.

  6. Wow, at 21, I imagine your car seats may be made of leather, to have lasted that long. I had an old 1989 Subaru, as my second vehicle. Loved it. Golly, they don't make cars like they used to!


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