Yesterday, we packed up our van and left Nebraska for Bear Lake (on the Utah-Idaho border) for a family reunion. Just before reaching Cheyenne Wyoming, we heard a "thunk" and saw a huge cloud of smoke in our rear view mirror.  We took it out of gear and pulled off the road, and as we were coasting to the side, the engine seized up. The smoke was now clearly coming from the engine. I got out, verified that there wasn't any flame (no need for emergency vehicle evacuation), and we called our insurance carrier.

They called a tow truck, but also reminded me that we had opted out of the roadside assistance option, so we had to pay for that. The good news is it only cost $65 to get towed to a shop. The bad news is that we'd thrown a rod through our oil pan, lost essentially all of our oil, and the engine is now scrap metal.

I called my dad to let him know what had happened and not to expect us to arrive on schedule, and he generously offered to pay for a rental vehicle for us throughout the vacation. Despite knowing that we had a huge expense coming, let me tell you, that was a load off my mind! We were going to have our vacation after all!

So we got a rental vehicle, loaded our belongings into it and continued on, arriving at the lake at 1:45 am.

This morning, I got an estimate back from the guy at the shop, and while I was ready to hear $3000 to $4000, I was NOT ready to hear that repairs would cost $7000! I told him we'd call him back and hung up.

After a little discussion, we decided that there was no way we could pay $7000 to fix a vehicle worth probably half that, so I called him back and asked if he knew of anyone who might be interested in buying it for parts (it has a brand new transmission in it, and plenty of other parts that I'm sure could be useful). His response was essentially that he'd take it off our hands for the amount that we already owe him for looking at it. Ugh!

I told him we'd call my brother in law and see if he knows anyone who'd be willing to pay more and get back to him. We haven't done that yet (what's the rush, right?), but it looks like about all it's worth is negative $1000 to finishing paying off our loan.

Reader Comment:
Antone Roundy said:
Good news: my brother-in-law and his mechanic friend back home found an engine for us and a person to tow the van back home cheap where the mechanic will do the repairs. It will still cost a couple thousand dollars, but what a relief to know we're no...
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So once again, it's time to give my affiliates and customers the fruits of my misfortune by having a sale! I'm calling it the "Roadside Assistance Sale". Just enter "Roadside" in the coupon code field at the bottom of the page at before August 31 and save 25% off the price of CaRP Evolution while helping us to pay off our loan and start saving for a replacement vehicle.

If your a Gecko Tribe affiliate, experience has shown that telling a story that people can relate to boosts sales, so you may want to share this story when promoting this offer. And yes, it is a true story -- I'm typing this in a diner right now using their wireless internet connection in hopes of jump starting the financial recovery effort before we get home.

Two final notes:

* The coupon code will automatically deactivate at midnight on August 31, so don't wait too long.

* I just want to finish with a big "thank you" to my dad for taking care of the rental vehicle for us. Isn't family great?