Case in point:
Before I left town on my business trip last Thursday, I had to take my cat to the vet, which cost me $275. The vet recommended additional work that would've cost an additional $400+,which I have yet to authorize. (I am praying that I won't have to in the near future.)
After I brought my cat home, I took my car to the dealership for its 35,000 mile service. (Truth be told, my car already had 38k miles on it.) While I was waiting, the service tech alerted me to a nail penetration through the front left tire.
I asked whether the tire can be plugged but was told it was illegal to patch a worn tire. (I suspect the issue is more about avoiding civil liability than following the law, but I understand why he wouldn't do it.) In fact, he recommended that I replace 3 of my tires since all but 1 of my tires were worn.
Just a little background: The reason why 1 of my tires wasn't worn was because I suffered a flat in Las Vegas last year. I had to replace the tire immediately without opportunity to comparison shop, and was sold the most expensive tire in stock. (Bastards!) Now, the dealer was convincing me to replace 3 of the tires with the "performance tire" I got in Vegas.
(Rant: Why are my tires punctured every time I drive to Vegas? Are the tire shops in Baker sprinkling the freeways with nails in hopes to get business from stranded motorists??)
Anyhow, I discovered (after the fact) that I got snookered in Vegas, so I knew my car didn't need such a high-performance tire. I turned the dealer down.
Nevertheless, I was taken aback by this recommendation since I thought I wouldn't have to replace my tires for another year, or, another 12,000 miles. But ever since my friend suffered a blow out (and subsequent spin out) on the freeway several years back, I've always erred on the side of caution with respect to my tires. Although I didn't have money set aside for this "emergency", I decided I should replace 3 of my tires and researched which tire to buy... somewhat.
My car has P215/55R17 tires on 17-inch wheels, which cost anywhere between $114/tire to $193/tire (excluding environmental fees and installation costs). (Note: The dealer quoted me $240/tire for a tire that's being sold $193/tire elsewhere!) That was pretty much the extent of my research. I used the tire shop's customer review rating on its website and opted for a familiar, reputable brand - Michelins. The tires weren't the most expensive, but weren't one of the cheaper ones either ($161/tire).
The tire shop offered to buy back the rip-off tire I got in Vegas for $30. The shop also offered to give me an additional $30 off if I replaced all 4 tires. I opted to replace all 4 tires since it didn't make sense for me to continue to drive my car with 1 oddball performance tire. I also purchased "road hazard" insurance since I seem to have a knack for driving over nails. Total cost: $788 .
I currently have approximately $100 in my "car maintenance fund". (I would've had about $350 had I not had to replace my windshield in September.) I just spent $55 of the $100 for the 35k mile car service, which leaves me with a balance of $45.
I'm expecting to get approximately $780 from my employer as reimbursement and a bonus. Fellow PF blogger Paranoid Asteroid recommends that I spend the money on my tires. But I was hoping to use the money for the holidays! (Whine....)
Do most people consider this an "emergency" or is this a routine maintenance cost that I should have anticipated?
I still haven't decided how to pay for this Murphy expense. Stay tuned.