By on April 23, 2020

To make amends for the horrific, disturbing imagery no doubt stirred by the lede of my previous QOTD, I’ll state right now that nothing unsavory or perverse was keeping me up these past few nights.

Yet something was.

Bouts of insomnia aren’t uncommon, certainly not in these trying times, so I know I’m not alone in counting Oldsmobiles in a vain attempt to reach the gates of Slumberville these past couple of weeks. And of the many concerns rattling around my brain like a Mossad assassin’s bullet, I can at least say none of them were specifically automotive in nature. Which can’t be said for everyone…

Many of us lie awake at night, wondering if the deal we’ve just signed was a sensible thing to do. Maybe the monthly payment and overall ask was too great for our wallets to reasonably manage, but the temptation at the dealer was just too strong. It was a Limited model, after all, and they said they’d throw in snow tires!

Perhaps that day at the dealer is now long past, and your vehicle’s age — and depreciation — is progressing faster than your efforts to erase the loan balance. You’re upside down, and rolling what remains into a new vehicle will mean less frills when it comes time to pick out your new ride, plus even more negative equity than before.

Just as common, and perhaps more likely, is the fitful rest that comes when a paid-off vehicle you’ve owned just a little too long is making a noise. How expensive will that noise prove to be? Will it worsen overnight, or can you forego a repair until fortune once again smiles on your personal finances? What if the vehicle’s not paid off but the warranty’s more out of date than your great uncle’s car phone?

These are some of the biggies, but the situations and issues arising from vehicle ownership are too numerous and diverse to list. Everyone, if they set their mind to it, has some reason to worry. Not everyone will entertain the dark thoughts lurking around the perimeter of their waking mind. Some will.

What is it about your car that’s keeping you up at night?

[Image: Michael von Aichberger/Shutterstock]

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72 Comments on “QOTD: What’s Keeping You Up At Night?...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Not a thing, I finally have a car that suits me, is paid for and I like that’s running better then I ever thought it would at this age and mileage

    As a reward I just bought a bunch of stupid stuff on ebay to “freshen” it a bit and to keep me busy. So car-wise, I’m good, but there sure is enough other stuff to keep me awake at night :(

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    Ever since I first saw a Triumph GT6 I’ve been in love with the idea of owning one. Last fall I finally felt like my finances were in place and my mechanic skill level was ready for a machine with a reputation for leaking like an oil tanker with a drunk captain.
    All the stars were aligning and I found the perfect project last fall, so I bought it. Spend all winter fixing things and making it roadworthy. Really looking forward to some summer cruising, autocross, and showing it off to all my car buddies at the local C&C. Now all of a sudden I’m quarantined and furloughed for God knows how long. Autocross and C&C are cancelled for the foreseeable future. I’ve got some savings and unemployment will help, but for how long? I’m really afraid there’s going to come a point where I’m going to have to turn right around and sell it after putting all that blood, sweat, and dollars into it. And how the hell would I find someone dumb enough to buy it when so many people are in the same situation I’m in?
    I mean, it’s a slim chance right now, but the future is uncertain. And that’s what keeps me up at night.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      You have my sympathies or is it empathies? Either way I totally understand your concerns.

      As a former owner of the some of the commonwealths finest, if the need arises and I truly hope it does not, you will be able to find a buyer for your ride.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Hey ;

        It’s an old British car ~ what could possibly go wrong ? =8-) .

        Generic insomnia is my bane, since about 1967 .

        I recently bought a white noise machine & Bed bath & beyond, I like the rain sounds it makes but SWMBO won’t allow me to play it after lights out .

        -Nate

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    My wife’s 2008 Infiniti M35x – a car bought in haste since she needed something quick (and – at the time – inexpensive).

    It needs a new power steering pump, has a small oil leak, and drinks gas like a pickup. But it is reliable and has AWD, which is nice when she has to travel in the winter for her job. Fix and keep running? Or trade-in on something newer?

    The current plan, by the time my next birthday rolls around, is to give her the Mustang while I venture off into something new. I’ve been thinking EV. But I still would like to have that old gas guzzling Infiniti around on those days she has to take a long trip. But a third car that sits a lot will have its own issues.

    Oh and the company I have been working for for the past 18 years was on shaky financial condition before all this pandemic stuff happened. I’ve been furloughed for 5 weeks and I’m wondering if I’ll have a job to go back to?

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Which will be cheaper, fixing the M35x or making loan payments on a replacement? If the replacement is used, will it have its own problems? It’s not wise to make long term financial commitments when your prospects are uncertain.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    The thought of President Biden has me sleepless.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The ancient GMT400 recently got exhaust, fuel pump, fuel filter, coil, ignition control module, cap, rotor, wires, plugs. The evening ‘test drive’ turned into 140 miles. Encountered 3 emergency vehicles with lights-on during my travels – weird.

    Got back home and ordered another cart full of parts from rockauto – at 1AM. So now you know my affliction.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Not a thing…sleeping like a baby.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Nothing about a car would ever keep me up a night. There are a million other things more important. Its an easily replaceable material thing and I’m glad I’ve grown up and don’t have irrational attachments to such things anymore.

  • avatar
    millerluke

    I have a 2019 Camry. It’s a fine car, notwithstanding significant warranty repairs (transmission at 220km, brakes at 16000km.) Very efficient, getting close to 40mpg on my summer tires. Comfortable, lots of room, nothing really to complain about. Fits me, my wife and three kids easily. Price was very reasonable.

    But… had an opportunity to get a 2018 Mustang GT… or a 2018 Charger R/T… the thought still bounces around at night: “Coulda had a V8…”

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      You should have bought that V8. You never know how many chances you’ll get to get the car you really want, instead of a “practical” choice that just doesn’t do anything for you inside.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Well I am fortunate to still be employed and family is healthy, so I can think of some relatively mundane things like my car lease which is ends on July 3. My plan 3 years ago was to enjoy the low lease payment then likely buy the car at its low residual value. It is a great car and the purchase deal is still good in my mind, but I have to think it will be a good time to either try to lower the buy price, extend the lease a couple months, or just turn it in and try to save a few bucks. But it just seems like there will be great deals out there.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I don’t tend to loose sleep over much. My truck did have a coil pack fail last weekend. My truck is pushing 10 years old so when it started running rough I started running “what if’s” algorithms. I am tempted to buy something new since discounts are massive and my job is pretty much recession/depression proof but I’m always hesitant to add on debt at the best of times.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @Lou_BC: Pay cash and avoid the cost of financing? That’s what I did with my truck and am now happy I don’t have to concern myself with adding debt.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @Vulpine – Sound advice but post divorce,and my oldest son now unemployed, and my youngest around because school is closed, I couldn’t buy new without some sort of loan. I am saving some money since there isn’t anything to spend it on. I’m not a “trade in” type of guy so that isn’t a concern.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My worry right now, is that I am 1 1/2 years away from retirement, but may be forced to retire early this coming summer.

    My company is a diversified conglomerate, but derives around 60 to 65% of its revenue from automobile, and about 10% from aerospace.

    Currently under lock down at reduced pay until June. But corporate has been very straightforward that, if the outlook in Q3 does not improve, difficult measures will be required. We all know what that means.

    Enough about my personal rants….. My concern right now, is what type of automobile is best for a retiree?
    Something that is reliable for many many years?

    I think Steph, that this would be a good QOTD topic in a future installment.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    I’m not losing sleep over it, but I have to drill into my deck lid to install a spoiler on my 85′ BMW e28. One wrong pilot hole and…………….

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Not losing sleep, but have procrastinated on again replacing a poorly installed valve cover gasket. I still like driving the Beemer wagon, but with 120k on the clock, it’s a leak machine.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    I can tell you right now that car payments are NOT what’s keeping me up at nights; one is paid off and the other is less than a year from paid off. The oldest one is only 4 years old.

    What keeps me up at night are the weird dreams about my late family members, who still show up and try to run my life in those dreams. But that’s a personal thing.

  • avatar
    ArialATOMV8

    As a college student, i’m very fortunate to still have a job and even with my intensive now online classes, finish the year strong!

    That being said, I’m kept up at night worried about my 2004 Toyota Highlander Limited. With almost 175k on the clock its had a rough and expensive year. It needed new snow tires, had its valve cover gaskets replaced due to a leak, was almost totaled when the paper-lady with her 90s Volvo Wagon backed into it parked in my driveway annihilating the front end (to add insult to injury after that low speed collision, that Volvo walked away only needing a new tail light!). Finally this past March, it needed new brakes and managed to fix the horn (essential in Massachusetts lol). After that repair, their telling me there could be another oil leak and we’d find out next oil change. Hopefully its nothing at all since we’re not going to be doing any more major repairs on it.

    Out of all those things, I really need this car to last for hopefully another year. I’d like to admit i’ve been extremely rough on it up to this point and after that brake job, I am finally treating that Highlander with the respect it deserves. By then, when it breaks I should have enough money for something decent or, enough credit to lease something as its replacement.

    I’d have to say with the 4 years and 100k miles, its never broke down on me and its been relatively trouble free up till last year. As a first car, i’m very grateful for it and really hope it lasts at least another year before retirement!

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I usually start to look at the cost of repairs versus the cost of vehicle payments. You also have to factor in reliability. Can you live with a potentially unreliable vehicle? I pushed my old 1990 F250 to the bitter end because it was a regular cab and couldn’t fit the family. It was my rig, not a family rig. I would have put a “reman” engine in it if it wasn’t a reg cab. My current job isn’t as critical as most of my past career roles so if I show up late due to a failure, it isn’t the end of the world.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      There are two kinds of oil leaks at 175K – ones that are serious and should be addressed, and ones which can be lived with/worked around and are an excuse for your mechanic to dip into your wallet again. How much oil is disappearing from the dipstick? If “not much,” try a bottle of STP oil treatment, carry an extra quart of oil in the trunk and live your life.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        In the end days of my ”82 Citation nearing 200k miles, the crankshaft seals failed making keeping oil showing on the dipstick impossible. The freshly added quart would leak out in a day’s time. I installed a cheap aftermarket oil pressure gauge, and discovered that the oil pressure was maintained even if the oil level was below the crankshaft seal, and not showing on the dipstick. I would add oil when the tappets started clicking, and the oil pressure was down.

      • 0 avatar
        ArialATOMV8

        Thanks for the advice. I just got around today to checking the oil dipstick. I can confirm the oil level is 95% full and a healthy yellow hue. Its due for a oil change in 300 miles or next month and I’m extremely on top of following that recommended interval.

        Thankfully I also have not seem any fluids on my driveway so, chances are if there is a leak, its a minor one that can be dealt with.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t have anything specifically bad going on (automotive or otherwise), but I don’t think I’ve had a night with more than 6 hours of sleep in the last 30 days. So things are definitely wearing on me and keeping me wired.

  • avatar
    multicam

    I have a 2019 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon (two doors) with the Aisin 6-speed manual transmission. There’s a recall out for every JL wrangler equipped with this transmission because apparently they can grenade, causing the Jeep to catch on fire and distributing shrapnel throughout the cabin. Jeep doesn’t have a fix yet. This is keeping me up at night.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I’ve been sleeping like a baby

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I’ve wanted a Chevy Bolt EV, but didn’t get one last time because I couldn’t get past the lousy front seats and plasticky interior. Lo and behold, the 2021 model will fix both those things at last — and it’s scheduled to arrive in time for my current Volt lease’s expiration. If GM keeps blowing Bolts out the door with 10 grand worth of incentives even after the refresh, my poor-man’s-Tesla plan is flawless.

    Except now I don’t know if production plans will be canceled or pushed back in light of corona, recession, and cancellation of increased MPG standards.

    That doesn’t keep me up at night though. What does, is the realization that something very bad could happen–whether that’s losing my job, taking a big pay cut, or getting infected and possibly dying or suffering lasting health problems. I’m an “essential” worker so I can’t just avoid exposure, and if I did get infected, I’m in a fairly high-risk group, so I do not like my odds one bit.

    There is an absurdly depreciated Volvo S80 near me, built at the very tail end of the old platform, and it’s as shiny and clean as they day it rolled out of the showroom. It has better living room furniture in the cabin than I could afford in my home. And it’s so cheap I could buy it outright. I’d have no car payment, and every day I’d get to sit an environment that made me sigh and say “isn’t this nice.” I pictured that more as the kind of car I’d get as my “last car before I die”…but these days, that could come sooner than expected.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    DJT is at the Helm, I sleep like a rock 8 hrs. every night. Refinishing antique furniture. Fun hobby with a great result. Can’t wait to get epidemiological data on deaths vs. past years. .gov will do everything to pan this out ’till Nov. election. Sleep tight!

  • avatar
    Maymar

    My car is a little small, slow, and noisy, but that doesn’t keep me up at night. As much as I’d like something nicer, it’s a sensible, low-mileage Japanese hatchback, and it’ll be paid off next year (I have more than enough to pay it off in savings, but with 0%, no point). Plus, I’m lucky – I’m on paternity leave through the fall so I inadvertently furloughed myself before this all went down, and my wife’s job is safe.

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    Have a married son that has a 25 minute commute to work. He’s been telling me about several major repairs he’s had to put into his 2008 CR-V (150,000 miles). Is trying to liquidate education loans and, with 4 kids, really doesn’t have the shekels to put into another vehicle, used (probably) or new. So I spend a couple of nights being Good Dad, thinking about how (or if) I can help him without unduly wreaking havoc with my retirement income stream and savings.

    But that was a short lived concern. He is a psychologist at a state penitentiary that is starting to incur COVID-19 cases. Available protective equipment is pretty bare bones, but he still needs to meet regularly with inmates to monitor their mental state. He is following work safety protocols and adding a few things of his own doing, and so far is negative as far as he knows. But how long that will continue is anybody’s guess.

    There are lots of people on the coronavirus front lines that are in more dangerous situations than he is – doctors, nurses, guards in the dormitories of the penitentiary. Am I still worried about him? You bet. But the CR-V concerns now seem a whole lot less worrisome in retrospect.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    What’s keeping me up at night is that with 2 kids always at home my focus on work is poor and sometimes client demands are slipping through the cracks/taking too long to fill. My cars are way down the list.

    But if I have any concern it’s that the original 12v battery in my Highlander is already weak and driving as little as I do during COVID is probably going to kill it. Because Highlander Hybrids have the battery in the rear of the passenger compartment, they require AGL batteries at ~$250/pop.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I have an EJ25 Turbo Subaru. The EJ25T is what keeps me in a constant sense of dread-readiness.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    I was mixing it up on public busses and a crowded restaurant at a near by ski resort In early to mid March in a nearby county that turned out to be an early hot spot. A group of well to do Mexicans returned from vacation there and seeded an outbreak where they live in Mexico. All ski areas here shut down 3/15/20. There were people on those busses and in the restaurant who had very nasty coughs. In the six weeks since, I have been having episodic sore throat / nose / lungs / upset GI, and two weeks ago even a brief fever. Some (most) days I feel great, then, like today for example I wake and, hmmm it is one of “those” days.
    Finally a few days ago, testing for people with less than admit-them-to-the-hospital severe symptoms became available. I got the swab up the nose this morning. I’ll know in 5 days.
    So, cough, chest discomfort, and an occasional waking up burning hot (with out fever oddly) has been keeping me up at night, not to mention the fear and paranoia.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @TTACGreg: Best wishes, hope that you are either clear of the virus or are one of those who was able to combat it and hopefully now has a resistance.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    My cheap replacement rear caliper piston bore was bored way over during the “refurbishment” process and will never stop leaking.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    How about the fact that the USA elected and will quite probably re-elect someone who is capable of publicly stating “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning.” The president said during the briefing, on Thursday April 23rd speaking to his health officials.

    It’s official, Moe Howard is running the USA.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Plus :

      the news lets you ignore a president who, as the British writer Nate White points out, “has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlety, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honor and no grace” and now, in a national crisis, shows himself to be an ignorant bumbler and con artist focused on weeding out non-yes-men in the White House

      Me, I worry about my dog finally getting enough cheese .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @Arthur Dailey – I was dumbfounded when I watched that clip.

      “And the light. Kills it in a minute”

      That is also known as radiation.

      How long before we see news stories of people getting sick from injecting bleach?

  • avatar

    I wake up in the middle of the night with the thought that reality show star Donald Trump is still in the office and according to well informed sources 50% of American people have low IQ. And then I start thinking that in November we will elect Joe Biden, with little help from our friends in China, to the office and I fall asleep and do not want to wake up.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Median IQ is 100. By definition one-half of the population is below the median.

      That means 180 million Americans with an IQ below 100.

      So one heck of a lot of people who believe that there opinions are as valid as the findings of those who are actually subject matter experts in specific fields.

      I wouldn’t want my HVAC techician to provide advice regarding dental surgery, any more than I would trust my dentist to repair by A/C unit. I wouldn’t want my accountant to fix my steering rack any more than I would want my mechanic to file my tax return.

      Yet we have all kinds of people questioning the findings of environmental scientists, epidemiologists, or public health officials regarding how to respond to a pandemic or the existence of climate change.

      • 0 avatar
        CobraJet

        Well my dentist and HVAC person don’t add politics to the mix when giving me advice about my furnace or my teeth. No so with some environmental scientists or government heath officials who have hidden agendas.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Nothing like claiming a conspiracy or hidden agenda when facts refute opinions.

          It seems whenever confronted by facts, they claim that those facts are just more proof of a ‘hidden agenda’.

          Yep don’t trust all that book larnin’.

          Most people who make claims regarding conspiracies have little to no actual experience in the field that they are refuting.

          For example the ‘deep state’. How can tens of thousands of people, with different political, moral and religious beliefs all be part of a deep conspiracy and keep their role secret for decades?

          But claiming that the ‘deep state’ exists helps to undermine faith in the American democratic system. Something that plays into the hands of America’s traditional foreign enemies.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            I’d mention Ockham’s razor but…..

            KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid.

            When faced with two explanations, the more complex one is usually the wrong one!

            Promulgating specious conspiracy theories,deep states and/or hidden agendas are a way of numbing cognitive dissonance.

            Why challenge one’s beliefs when it is easily rationalized away by falsehoods!

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @CobraJet: What possible “hidden agendas” could they have?

          • 0 avatar
            -Nate

            You know ;

            Doing their job, the one they’re trained to do, helping others, making things batter for everyone and reducing negative aspects, like that .

            -Nate

      • 0 avatar

        I thought that in Western democracies all people are born equal and have equal rights to elect President and other representatives regardless of their IQ level. But I am from former communist country and may be too idealistic. May be in Western democracies the ruling class (specimens with high IQ) must have birth right to override popular opinion and appoint the President and members of Congress as they find appropriate in the best interest of the country and humanity and that plebs also known as a “Basket of Deplorables” has to be ignored and suppressed for the same noble purpose.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          You just outlined the gop platform….

          -Nate

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @Inside: The drafters of the American Constitution did create the Electoral College to prevent ‘mob rule’. The EC’s sole role was to allow the College members (read ruling elite) to prevent the ‘masses’ from electing somebody unacceptable. Its role has of course evolved since then, somewhat.

          However as demonstrated in the last Presidential election, the masses did not get the president they voted for. The person selected by the Electoral College received less votes than his opponent.

          But who here has posted anything about removing voting privileges? Unlike the current POTUS and some Republican governors.

          So perhaps what you are doing obliquely is denigrating the Republican Party’s stance regarding voting rights.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    what’s keeping me up at night? I work at night, so my sleeptime is your work time. And what’s keeping me up or more accurately, what wakes me up?

    The assisted living/memory place next door is building another “section”, and there’s going to be at least another year of noise coming from the construction. The back up beeping alone is bad enough, but the banging on whatever they are banging is just ridiculous.

    It almost is enough to make me want to work days. But that’s death, so that thought doesn’t stay in my head long. I don’t know how anyone can work a “normal” shift.

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      Seriously ;

      Get a white noise machine and experiment with the various sounds and volume levels ~ they put me right to sleep .

      I worked swing shift for a long time and loved it apart from not seeing my then young son as much as I preferred .

      -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The beeping would drive me crazy. It’s the one noise that I wouldn’t be able to accept as a necessity of productivity.

      Seriously, if a guy can’t figure out that it’s a bad idea to hang out directly behind heavy machinery in operation, what use could he possibly be at a construction site?

      I use a large box fan as background noise. Usually on the lowest setting.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I worked shift work for the bulk of my professional career. I got to the point where I wasn’t affected much by daytime noises that were “normal”. I’d let my best friend work on vehicles in my shop and yard all of the time. if I knew he was coming over, I’d sleep fine. If he forgot to tell me the noise would get me up.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    Doesn’t keep me up at night, but I’m grappling with keeping my ’12 Raptor, which I keep in great shape but things will need replacing….or capitalize on it’s excellent resale value and buy another truck. Thing is, there’s nothing (within reason) that I’m really digging to replace it with. New Raptors start at $80K up here, plus I’m not convinced of the long term reliability of the TT3.5/10 speed combo. I’d like a Tremor but again, $70K +….everything else is kinda meh….

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @IHateCars – I’ve been looking around and it’s hard to find a base model Tremor. I’ve noticed the same problem with Power Wagons. Most Tremors and PW’s I’ve found are full bling. I’ve seen online a few XLT Tremor’s with the 7.3 V8 and 4.3 gear set for $73k. Dealers know they are popular so I haven’t seen any discounts yet. I personally would get a Tremor over a Raptor since the Tremor is more narrow with a better payload. I’ve pretty much convinced myself that a Tremor will be my “retirement” gift to myself.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    Arthur Dailey, “It’s official, Moe Howard is running the USA.”

    More likely his younger brother Curly, ” I tried to think, but nothing happened.”
    A worry that comes up in my mind is about one of my vehicles. Was planning to sell it, but some months ago it had a failure in the cooling system. Need to fix it, but things keep getting in the way.
    BTW I usually don’t sleep more than 5-6 hours a night for 15 years now for many reasons. Would like to get 7-8, but I don’t think it’s going to happen.

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