Keeping My Cool

Kristine Hayes

MY 2007 HONDA CR-V’s air conditioning system started having issues about three years ago. I took it to a shop where they added refrigerant and declared the problem fixed. A year later, the AC stopped working again so I took it to a different mechanic, who declared the problem solved after adding refrigerant and replacing a relay. Several months later, I was once again driving around in a car at ambient temperatures. Because I spent much of the summer of 2020 working from home, I decided not to bother with another repair.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when temperatures in the Northwest were forecast to reach record highs. I knew I needed to come up with a fix. My first thought? Trade in my low-mile, mint-condition Honda for a fancy new Kia. I justified my thinking by first telling myself I deserved a new car. Then I justified it using the fact that used cars are in demand right now. I went so far as to contact a new car dealer to request pricing information for both my trade-in and a new vehicle. The dopamine hit I got from thinking about having a new car completely overwhelmed the more practical parts of my brain.

In a moment of sanity, I told my husband I felt like I was trying to solve a $1,500 problem with a $25,000 solution. I found a local mechanic who specialized in AC issues and scheduled my car for a diagnostic panel. They quickly discovered the problem, gave me an estimate for the repair and, when I approved the fix, they ordered the parts and had everything repaired just 24 hours later. Ironically enough, the cost of the repair was almost exactly what I had predicted, coming in at $1,460. My lovingly cared for Honda now happily blows cold air again and I’m happily driving around without a $400-a-month car payment.

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