The Breakdown

Friday was going to be a fantastic day. I got home from work, I put a brisket in the oven, and I even had time to take a nap while it was cooking. Sari and her boyfriend got to the house, we loaded up the brisket and other snacks, then started our drive down to Elk Grove to have dinner with friends. As I drove up an on-ramp to get on a major street, my Jeep jerked and the check engine light came on, then the entire thing stopped.

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I frantically tried to turn it back on, but after three tries the engine wouldn’t turn over. We were stopped in the middle of a busy merge lane of a super busy street on a bridge at 6 pm, so Sari and Kyle quickly decided we needed to get the flashers on and get out of the car ASAP. We were fortunate that the bridge we were stuck on had sidewalks, so we were able to crawl over a guardrail and stand safely on the other side of a concrete barrier while we called AAA to get towed.

Kyle spent his time trying to alert people by waving people away from the car since there was a steady stream of traffic coming up the ramp (my car was located about 10 feet after they crested the top). Sari had just got off being on hold with AAA when I heard Kyle yelling “NO NO NO” and waving his arms frantically. I turned just in time to watch a girl – who was looking left to merge into traffic – slam into the back of my Jeep.

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The airbags went off and two teenagers popped out of the car. We worked quickly to get them out of the road and over the guardrail. Thankfully, they were unharmed.

The police arrived swiftly and were able to direct traffic around the wreck. In retrospect, I wish we had called them immediately to help prevent the entire thing, but it didn’t occur to me. AAA wasn’t able to get a truck there for almost two hours, so there was no way my car wasn’t going to get hit. Please learn from my mistake. The police were able to get trucks there in about 15 minutes and they got the cars loaded quickly.

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I am so thankful that no one was hurt and that their car didn’t launch mine into others, but I am bereft. I love that damn Jeep and was planning to drive it for at least three more years (hopefully five). After I got all of my food safely out of the car, we went on to Tracy’s house because, at minimum, I needed some wine and meat with friends.

I spent Saturday on the phone with the insurance companies. Since my Jeep is seven years old now, I am greatly stressed that it will just get totaled. I started working with a financial planner earlier this summer, and I have a great plan for helping paying down my private loans, but that plan does not include a car payment. Between feeling sick over the cost of a new car and thinking about the fact that if we had gone one more minute, then we would have been in the middle of a six-lane highway when it broke down (and we couldn’t have safely left the car, so we would have been just sitting there waiting to get hit at 70+ mph), I haven’t been able to sleep. Part of me hopes it gets totaled because the sudden breakdown really scares me (what if they can’t figure out the problem and prevent it??), but I also don’t want a car payment at all.

Image result for nope gifThe anxiety monster has been RAGING the past few days. I also can’t get a rental car because other insurance company has a mysterious “cap” that they think they will go over anyway, so no car for me. They won’t tell me what this “cap” is, but I feel like I’m about to get screwed. I am super thankful that I live with Sari and that she is sharing her car with me. We work at the same place, so most days we can carpool. When our hours are super different, then one of us will ride our bike (we are just a few miles away) or I will call an Uber/Lyft. It’s not the end of times by any means, and of course all that matters is that everyone is okay, but I am HIGHLY INCONVENIENCED and LOATHE having to rely on other people.

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The insurance adjusters are supposed to go look at the car at some point this week, so we will see what happens. Any advice is appreciated.



I meant to be at the office catching up on some things Saturday, but that didn’t happen, so I worked from home under the careful supervision of middle management on Sunday.

Then, everyone on Game of Thrones had a worse weekend than I was having. WHAT A STUPID PLAN. Clearly, Jon attended the same event planning conference as Catelyn (THE WORST).

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Also, HATS. Y’all need hats for winter!

47 thoughts on “The Breakdown

  1. Okay, 1 – I cannot BELIEVE that everyone north of the wall doesn’t wear a goddamn hat. Surely someone can fashion a few out of some of the Ikea rugs that Jon wears over his shoulders. Seriously!

    And 2 – we had both of our cars die this year, within WEEKS of each other. And the junker that we purchased to replace the first one that died, also died. We were planning to sell it, and it wouldn’t start 30 minutes before the new owners were planning to come get it. In the end, our mechanic sold us an awesome used Matrix, and we love it. (and then my dad bought a new car and gifted us his old one and we feel beyond fortunate that this happened). Are there maybe some decent used cars in your area that could fill the massive hole that the Jeep has left? With a much smaller (or at least, shorter?) car payment than a new one would cost? Ugh. Car stuff is the worst. I’m so sorry, and so glad that everyone is okay.

    • 1. Amen
      2. I’m trying to convince my parents to sell me my mom’s Jeep since she doesn’t love it and I really don’t need a brand new car. I too am very lucky to even have this option to consider.

  2. I am glad no one was injured! My only piece of advice is this: never, ever take the first offer that the insurance adjusters give you for repairs or the payout they will give you should the Jeep get totaled. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when I totaled my car, but a few extra (polite) phone calls later I had a payout that was 25% higher than they gave me. I used that extra money toward my down payment (= super low car payment). Best of luck to you!

    • Seconding this! Someone hit Evan last year and his truck was deemed a total loss and he wasn’t happy with the payout the insurance company was offering. He negotiated with them and ended up getting an extra $4000. He then bought a used truck, three years newer but otherwise exactly the same and he only had to pay like $1000 extra, so not so bad at all! Don’t be afraid to negotiate, especially if you’ve put ANY money into your jeep lately.

      So glad that you are all okay, that is a scary situation!

        • Yep…Sean did the same thing with his Jeep. He lost his Jeep and they totaled it and he ended up getting just a little more for it based on the brand new transmission I think? LIke…$1500 more for the $3000 transmission. God help me I want to drink when I think about this stuff.

    • Thirded! When my first car was totaled, the insurance company offered me a super low-ball amount. I told them to go ahead and find me a replacement vehicle that was the same make and model with similar mileage and condition for the price they were offering and I would take it. They came back and offered me double their original offer.

  3. I have no advice, but I’ve definitely had a lot of cat problems in the past because of breakdowns and accidents caused by other people so I definitely understand the anxiety monster! So glad everyone is ok!

    • I love that you accidentally typed “cat problems.” Who hasn’t had those?

      • I have had a lot of those too! Also I bought a pre owned Toyota before I moved and the payment is super reasonable and def worth the piece of mind even though I’m paying less on my student loans, which are the worst

        • The worst. I wonder what it’s like for people who don’t owe a significant chunk of their paycheck to loans. What is that like??

  4. I am a lifelong Michigander and own probably 30-40 hats, and that is one of my main beefs with the show. IS NO ONE COLD??? “If your feet are cold, put a hat on” is something we learn in, like, preschool.

    Bummer about the Jeep. I drove my Wrangler for 13 years — I was also in love with that beast. I only sold it after it also died on the highway. Sadly my husband’s car was totaled not long afterward by an illegal driver, so we went from zero car payments to two. Budgeting that sucked, but both of us driving fairly new cars is a bit of a relief — hopefully everything is new enough that we’re good on car trouble for a while (knock wood).

    • It’s just like Daniel Craig in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. WHERE ARE YOU HAT AND GLOVES?? YOU ARE IN A SWEDISH WINTER. THE MOST WINTER.

      That sucks so much! I don’t want a new car, but also that stopping on the road business gives me anxiety.

  5. that succccks. I’m sorry. And the worst is playing a scenario that didn’t happen over and over in your head.

    Question: I am also looking to get the help of a financial planner, but I feel like I trust no one. Movies and books make me think they’re all out to screw me of my money or don’t really know anything and are just guessing. But we’ve got some major student loans and life things I would love to get an opinion on – how did you find/settle on a financial planner?

    • I asked a professor I knew in our College of Business here if she knew anyone. I found one I used years and years ago by asking an accountant friend. She didn’t know anyone personally, but got some good references from colleagues. Then, I Google the person and read reviews on them. The advice the professor gave me is that they should be focused on your goals (getting out of debt or investing) and that their recommendations should fit your comfort level. I am not at a point where I am investing in anything, so it’s not as easy to screw me over when I’m paying down my own debts. She helped me make a plan for paying things off while also working on savings (I am terrible at this part).

  6. Ugh, so sorry to hear about your car. Car and house problems are THE WORST. They will sit and plague at you and break you down with the stress until it gets figured out. I hope you find a resolution soon.

    A few years ago, my husband’s junky ass car (we’re talking over 10 years old and just a piece of crap anyways) got side swiped as someone else was merging into his lane. Because it was old, they totaled his car – he ended up taking the insurance money to someone who could repair his car for less then the amount the insurance gave him and pocketed the rest (a few hundred bucks). He had a totaled title which meant that he had to pay liability insurance but didn’t pay personal insurance on his own car, which he couldn’t since it was totaled.

    At first I thought it was a weird decision but he ended up being able to drive that car another 2 years – and then we had an unfortunate road trip to Dallas in August which included a/c leakage so bad, you could feel your feet soak into the moisture in the floor carpets and then eventually, an A/C that just went out. Fun times, so we got him a new car.

    Just an unconventional idea as food for thought if you want to avoid a car payment – but you are also dealing with an engine that died so that complicates things. Either way, I wish you luck.

    Also, Jon Snow’s plan was the worst ever. I knew he wasn’t going to die but if he did, I was almost okay with it this time because his plan was just SO DUMB. Also, if he wears a hat, then he has to hide his beautiful curls, we can’t have that happening!! (Joking)

    • My dad had suggested the same thing depending on what might be going on with the engine. I just feel so freaked out about that happening on a highway. I figured Tormund didn’t wear a hat to keep his luscious locks out and free.

  7. I’m glad you’re all ok, little sister! Cars can be replaced.

    Nora, try to find a financial planner in your area. 9/10 times they’re good folks, who have been vetted by D. Ramsey’s team.

  8. I am SO sorry. Let me offer you my story and maybe it will make you feel better.
    I was hit hard driving my 10+ year old Jeep in December. Paramedics were called, I was sent to the ER and had a concussion and broken ribs. I thought for sure my car was totaled. But IT WASN’T! So hang on to hope there.

    It took about 2 weeks and I got my car back. Then, 1 week after that I was exiting an off ramp from the freeway and was hit by a drunk driver. At 8am.
    So 3 weeks after the first accident, the second one happened. Went through the whole ordeal with the car again (luckily I was fine) and yet, the Jeep lives to see another day!

    I too was frantic over thinking about car payments and dealing with the stress over it all, but it worked out fine. I’m sending you happy thoughts! And I’m also really glad you and everyone else is OK. It could have been so much worse!

    • That is HORRIBLE!!! You are so luck to have made it out of both of those alive. What a nightmare. And I keep reminding myself that we are all alive and uninjured and everything else is replaceable. Fingers crossed!

  9. ugh i’m so sorry about the car! I totaled my car last January (no one hurt) by driving into the back of a car that stopped short suddenly when they realized everyone ahead of them was running a red light in a super busy intersection. Does your insurance company not cover a rental car? I had a cap on mine of $600 so I took a cheapest rental, a kia smelling of smoke and sadness. If your car is low mileage, that may help if your car is totaled. I was completely saved by having only 17k miles on my car despite it being 3 years ago. I went with a new to me used car from CarMax but having a car payment suuuuuucks.

    • We don’t pay the extra fee for my insurance to cover a rental. It’s not the end of the world, but it is annoying. My car has over 90K miles on it – she’s been places!

      • Pfft. 90,000. She’s got so much life! So sad! My Jeep has 174,000 miles on it…a broken rear bumper from a scary ass one car accident in a black out blizzard in MT that nearly sent us over a ravine so deep we couldn’t see the bottom (God help us it still scares us) and I cheerfully pay rental. You never know. He’s a 2005 Jeep Liberty so he looks like a little cartoon car and I love him madly.

        • I know!! Jeeps are made to LIVE forever. And holy shit that story is terrifying. That is exactly why I do not drive in the mountains when the weather is iffy in winter. I have no business up there.

  10. If your car isn’t totaled, try to get something called diminished value. It got me about $1800 when my Corolla was smashed since the wreck will show up on Carfax now. Jeeps’ exteriors are typically built well so there’s a good chance it’ll just need to get repaired.

    If it does get totalled, maybe cash flow a cheap vehicle (you can get a 15 year old Corolla or Civic for a few hundred bucks that is probably more reliable than most newer cars on the road and can still pass emissions in CA). It’ll give you time to save up for something nicer and hopefully get you closer to your financial goal.

    • I’m hoping to buy my mom’s Jeep off her, but I dread getting a car because I am SO BAD at scraping the bottom. I guess you get used to it eventually, but I need clearance!

  11. I am lucky enough to not have experience with the situation you’re describing so I can’t offer help there, but I just wanted to comment and say how nice it is to read this comments section and see how many readers genuinely care about you and your well-being and want to offer their support. I just think that’s really cool. I really hope everything works out as well as possible for you and your car!

    • Thank you! And, yes, a bunch of really thoughtful and nice folks leave comments which I hugely appreciate.

  12. Ugggh, so sorry on your car problems. Not fun at all. Two years ago, right around this time, me and my stepdaughter were in separate accidents 4 days apart that totaled both of our cars. Fun times! Her car was actually my old car too, so I lost two old friends at once. (Goodbye Alton Altima and Petra Passat!) The person who hit her car had “minimum insurance” here in Massachusetts, which is a total scam. She couldn’t even get what the 11-year-old Altima was worth! If you run into anything like that, definitely negotiate with the insurance company to get whatever you can from her insurance, plus all of the scrap value of your vehicle.

    Also, check with your own insurance to see if they will offer you at least a discount on a rental.

    Good luck!!

  13. I’m SO glad you guys got out okay and that the other people in the car were okay, too…I was holding my breath while I was reading the story! What a terrifying experience. The perfect storm.

  14. I work for an insurance company. The squeaky wheel gets the grease — keep calling. Call every day to get an answer. My 7 yr old civic was totaled 4 years ago — same situation, 6 lane highway at rush hour in the middle of a bridge and had a boat load of groceries in the car as I had shopped on my lunch hour. I was totally freaked out & loved that car. It all worked out in the end BUT it’s a total pain in the neck. Keep calling & you WILL get an answer. Glad that you were not hurt!!!!

  15. Oh, man, that sucks so much. But so glad you are all safe. What a nightmarishly dangerous situation!
    Agree with others who recommend negotiation, if necessary, and if you can get a repair, see if they can give you a cash payout and you can find a cheaper mechanic/body shop. I’m so sorry about this sucky situation. Being suddnely carless is a terrible thing!

    • Especially in America! We aren’t made for public transportation or walking!

  16. Also had a similar accident this February (also no one hurt thankfully. He had five kids and his wife in the car!!!). My car was 10 years old and I was hoping for another five out of her, but alas it was totaled.
    Would highly recommend filing a claim through YOUR insurance. I went through the guy that hit me’s insurance first and then they started being really shady and claiming they were only going to give me “x” amount of money and not wanting to pay for my rental. So I told them no thanks. I still haven’t received my deductible from my insurance, but it was well worth it to pay that. Everything moved so much more quickly and I personally trust my own company more than someone else’s.
    (I only mention this because you said “other insurance company” weren’t giving you a rental and I assume this is through the person who hit you’s insurance?”).
    Also, if you run out of days or money through insurance if you get a rental (I ran out once they cut me my check for my totaled vehicle), the rental companies will often let you keep renting at the same price. Mine was only like $15 a day!!, which was equal to or less than a monthly payment, so I just kept it till I found my new car!
    Good luck with the car search! I ended up with a 2015 Jeep Cherokee that I love. Hate the car payment, though. Just hate it. Do love a fancy (almost) new car though. Feeling pretty spiffy with Bluetooth and USB plug-ins. 🙂

    • Thankfully, because I didn’t really know what to do, I did file a claim with my insurance company on Saturday. So, they’ve been great and super responsive. They went yesterday and did an estimate and are moving it to a body shop today because they think it can be repaired (yay!). The other driver’s insurance company has, of course, returned zero of my 15 calls since Monday. Bitches. Those Cherokees are SO NICE. My mom has one and I try to steal it from her constantly. Enjoy that Bluetooth!!

  17. Glad to hear they’re being helpful! I work in healthcare so any time that any type of insurance actually does their job it makes me happy 😁 And thanks Tess 😁😁😁

  18. Jan 2016 I was in an accident caused by a HS girl who was playing on her cell phone….it was a freaking nightmare. I tried that…show me a similiar car with similiar mileage, hoping for more $ (they wanted to total it), but they decided to FIX IT! I was thrilled, and am still thrilled. At the time, my Honda Accord had around 135K miles, and I have probably put another 15K on it since then. We have a family mechanic who thinks it still looks great (and we are concocting a plan to make it to 400K….like another one of his customers). Man, 400K….that would be dreamy!

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