No. of Recommendations: 2
I see only two ways anyone could swing $250/year in maintenance and repairs on a vehicle. 1. They live in a city where they can walk, bicycle or ride the bus most of time (so the car sits idle most of the time); or 2. They buy low-cost, high-mileage cars and do all their own repairs. I suspect you're talking about the later.

I bought my last car in 1996 for $2200. It was a 1992 Ford Escort with 55,000 miles on it. The clutch was slipping, but otherwise it was in very good condition. I use to work on cars quite a bit, but no longer care to. I paid a good shop $500 to replace the clutch, which I thought was fair for the front wheel drive car. I've had the front brakes redone 3 times and the rear brakes twice. A couple of months ago I had the A/C compressor replaced with a good used one for $200... He quoted me $150, but I thought he did a good job and gave him an extra $50. (Another shop had quoted $1,000... which might not had been too far off, IF metal fragments had gotten into the system when the compressor went, but they hadn't.) It's now 17 years old and has around 185,000 miles on it. It gets me where I'm going reliably.

Over the years I've rebuilt around 16 car engines. I learned on the first one to disassemble the engine, take it to a machine shop, have them hot tank it, replace the freeze plugs, check the rods for straight and the big ends for size, bore the cylinders to the next size to get them straight, replace the pistons and wrist pins and go through the head, checking the springs and valves, replacing as needed and, usually, bushing the valve guides and then grinding the valves and seats with a 3-angle grind. I then reassemble, clecking bearing clearance with Plastigage, using a name brand gasket set and sealer and a torque wrench to tighten all of the fasteners. It usually cost me around $1200 to $1500 to redo an engine, but they ran great. I cost me around $150 to $200 to have (3-speed) automatic transmissions rebuilt by a shop, if I removed and replaced the transmission.

I sell insurance for a living. A foreman at a body shop I referred a lot of insured to showed me how to replace a quarter panel and do some body work. I also took a class in body work at a local trade school.

It was an enjoyable hobby for me. I sold some cars I wish I hadn't, among them my first car, a 1956 Chevy convertible.

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