September 22, 2020

My car is 13 years old.

I own it outright and it costs me very little to run.

It suits my needs perfectly and it continues to get me from A to B with very little resistance.

Of course, it no longer has a fancy-pants warranty to cover any unforeseen issues that arise, but that’s OK.

I budget for two services per year and I also allocate funds for any mechanical ailments that could rear their ugly head at any given time.

At the moment it’s still cheaper than paying off a new car.

I got new tyres last year, and this year I thought I was going to make it through without any expensive outlays.…until I got a call from my mechanic 15 minutes after I dropped it off for its most recent service.

THE UNFORESEEN

“When was the timing belt last replaced?” he asked. 

“The what?” I gulped as I visualised all that lovely cash haemorrhaging from my bank account.

“The timing belt – I think it was done about 5 years ago, but I can’t remember.” he admitted.

At this point I could have insisted my mechanic look up his own records.

After all, he prepares a very comprehensive service history every time he services my car.

However, we realised that the timing belt replacement had not been done by him, it had been undertaken by a dealership as part of a 180,000km service.

WHERE THE TIME WASTING BEGINS

At this point I felt very much like all the plans I had for the next hour had been sidelined until I could find the answer to my mechanic’s question.

Already, time had been wasted.

My mechanic had to stop what he was doing to call me and hope that we didn’t have to play phone-tag for half a day.

I had to stop what I was doing to take the call and listen as he patiently explained to me what the timing belt was.

I then had to put my own income-generating-activities on hold in order to locate the evidence he needed so we could make a decision about whether the timing belt did or did not need replacing.

Then, I had to make the follow up call to let my mechanic know what I discovered.

A GOOD FILING SYSTEM

Fortunately, I have some pretty finely tuned filing systems.

Those who know me are probably not surprised.

I knew exactly where all of my car service histories were.

My car service histories for the last 5 years are filled in my ‘Bills Folder’ where all the bills I pay during a financial year are filed alphabetically. (You can learn more about that system here).

I just went to ‘B’ for Best Motors and located the service histories straight away.

But it still took my time; it still took my attention away from income-generating activities (which are paramount for a sole trader).

HOW TO AVOID IT NEXT TIME

Now I don’t begrudge my mechanic at all for requesting I find the answer to his question.

I’m grateful that he did.

Ultimately we were able to determine that the timing belt did need replacing and yes, I was going to incur a short lived haemorrhage from my bank account.

But what I did vow was that I didn’t want to have to faff-around like that again.

And so, instead of belly-aching about it if and when it happened next time, I implemented a solution to by-pass any future faffing-around.

THE SOLUTION

I spent 15 minutes making copies of the last five years worth of service histories.

I copied every piece of paper (there were only 10) that documented any repairs and maintenance that had been undertaken on my car since 2015.

I then popped them in a basic plastic sleeve (you could use a manila folder or a document wallet) which I then slid down between the driver’s seat and the centre console of my car.

Next time anything goes wrong with my car I – or anyone – can grab that little file and refer to it to join the diagnostic dots.

Equally, the mechanic now knows it’s there and can readily access it whenever they’re doing work on my car.

Let’s hope my car lasts another few years so I can leverage my groovy little system a few more times!

Do you have a filing system for your car’s service history?

About the author 

Circleworks

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