Before soaking up the old Florida vibe over in Cedar Key, we spent six days camped at a mechanic shop in Tallahassee.
We sat in the waiting room day in and day out, evaluating the worth of our 1988 house on wheels and what would become of our beloved Cheddar Yeti.
How much have we already spent to keep the Cheddar Yeti running? Can we afford to maintain a twenty four year old RV? Can we afford to buy a newer RV?
We chose to bring the Cheddar Yeti in to resolve escalating issues with the engine. The repairs needed to fix the issues were not clear and due to the age of the Cheddar Yeti, available testing equipment would be limited.
So we reached out, asking for input from our support system of knowledgeable friends and family. It became clear that the potential costs of fixes might outweigh the value of the Yeti. Then again, how do you calculate value?
Beyond sentimental value, what about replacement cost vs the cost of ongoing maintenance? If this all didn’t work out, are we prepared for a monthly payment on a newer box of bolts?
Here are the details on this particular visit to the Ford service center. It includes what was replaced, fixed, and what we spent in total.
The Issue We Needed Repaired
Since we’ve owned the Cheddar Yeti we’ve experienced inconsistent stalling and occasional rough idling. Over the years we’ve replaced the fuel filter, distributor cap, rotor, spark plugs and wires, and the MAP sensor. Still, the engine continued to idle rough, and began completely cutting out when we put it in drive or reverse and even in park. Overall the engine was running ‘weak’ and we feared that getting all the way North this year would become increasingly difficult.
Repair: New Fuel Injector & New Valve Spring. $854.80
After running ‘all the tests in the book’, the mechanics thought that we might have a clogged fuel injector. They put a new fuel injector on cylinder #1 to see if that helped, it did not. So they put it on cylinder #3 and it seemed to help a bit. Since the issue was still present, it must be something else.
Upon talking to the other mechanics, they decided that the problem was in our valves. They told us the worst-case scenario first. A ‘valve job’, in which our valves would have to be removed and get re-machined. This would cost around $2,000. They hoped it would not come to that as finding somebody to re-machine 24 year old valves may be difficult. So they popped off the valve cover to see what they could find. Right away they saw a broken valve spring on cylinder #1. They replaced it and the engine was running much better. We basically have been running on 7 cylinders for the last thousand miles!
After these replacements, we were still idling really rough.
Repair: New Idle Air Control. $130.67
It turns out that the Idle Air control was not working at all. So they put a new one in. This controls the amount of air going into the engine while idling. This helped, but it was still running a little too rough for their liking. They also adjusted our idle speed to be a bit higher than normal. This seemed to make it much better, not 100%, but enough to get back on the road.
Repair: New Thermostat. $137.61
We were all set to take off, waved good bye to our new friends, and hit the road. But within about 10 minutes down the highway, our temperature gauge shot up into the red.
We pulled over on the freeway and the Yeti was steaming. A loud hissing sound was coming from the engine that persisted even after we turned the key off. We went outside and saw that coolant was just pouring out. We were towed back to Camp Ford. As we rolled back into the lot, the mechanics all deflated at the sight of our return.
It turned out that our thermostat was stuck in the closed position. When the engine heated up, the thermostat didn’t open to let coolant in and the engine overheated. The hissing sound was all of our coolant being squeezed out that tiny overflow tube.
6 Day Camp with Partial Hook Ups, WiFi, Coffee, Donuts, Parts, and Labor TOTAL: $1,123.08
The folks at Tallahassee Ford are down right awesome. On top of friendly service, they welcomed us to work in their waiting room for days, using their free WiFi and eating all their coffee and donuts. But the most amazing part is, they allowed us to plug-in the Cheddar Yeti and sleep in their parking lot for five nights! We jokingly called it, “Camp Ford.” If you’re ever in town with your Ford, we highly recommended the Tallahassee Ford Service Center. Tell Bill Cloud, the Cheddar Yeti sent you!
More Time Than Money
The people at Ford couldn’t believe we were not in more of a hurry. Actually, we may have been their longest waiting and as they dubbed us, the most patient service guests ever. How we live and work allows us a bit more flexibility these days, though not as much cash!
Budgeting for the unknown is still necessary but, we don’t have to worry about an unforgiving, monthly payment. We own this beauty, out right!
Our math figures out about like this:
$13,000 PAID initial cost of the Yeti + ($2k per year maintenance x 2 years) = 17k
17k ÷ (Happiness + Experience) = ♥ Home Sweet Cheddar Yeti ♥
If we can stay rolling aboard the Yeti for five total years, and keep to our 2k per year maintenance budget, we figure we’ll spend 23k on this house.
Would you choose maintenance over payments?