I am a stay-at-home mom with 2 children. My husband Steve works for Princeton Univ, about 15 miles each way from our home. We do not live on a main public transit line, however we are lucky in that we have a produce market, library, 7-11, and a few other small stores all within walking distance from our home. On nice weather days, we can even walk to the playground. However, I am used to being on the go 2-3 days a week with playgroup, shopping trips or just visiting friends.
At the end of January, my engine decided that it no longer wanted to cooperate. We were on our way to my parent’s house to drop the kids off before going to the Philadelphia Home Show, and were just before exit 57 on 295 south when my car’s engine started making a horrible noise. We got off the highway and into the parking lot of an Acme when the engine died altogether. Luckily, Steve was driving because if it had been just the kids and I, I would have lost my mind.
Not a single light came on indicating a problem. No low oil pressure light. No check engine light. Nothing.
We managed to get the car home, parked it in the driveway and that is where it sat until yesterday morning. Steve took my car to the mechanic, and today we got the dreaded phone call. I need a new engine. My car was 5 years old in December, has less than 70K miles, and it needs a new engine to the tune of about $4,500! OUCH!
While we make do every month, and bills get paid, we only get one pay check a month, and we don’t have a ton in savings. So there is no way to pay for the repairs in cash. We also don’t have credit cards to put the $4,500 on the plastic and keep moving forward.
Now the decision is to go down to one car – either selling Steve’s truck to repair my car and then having just one vehicle between the two of us, or bringing my car home and taking time over the next several months to try and fix it ourselves with me attempting to learn how to drive a manual transmission in the process.
Either way we are staring down the barrel of being a one car family, and unfortunately not by choice. Are there any other families out there that get by on one car? I’d love to hear how you do it, and any advice you have for doing it long term.