Thursday, December 02, 2004

It's THAT time of year again...

Tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., I have to bring my whip (that's gangsta' for car) in for its ANNUAL oil change. Yup, I said annual. My buddies - the technicians in the blue lab coats - at Emil Frey use synthetic oil, and I've only driven about 5,000 km. this year, so I only need to have the oil changed once per year. I'm also going to have my 50,000 km. service which means, in their words, that it will be a gross Service (gross as in German for big, not as in English for disgusting). Since we shipped our car from America, I have to put a sign in the car reminding them that the odometer is in miles, not in kilometers. The first time I ever brought the car in for service, they told me that they had done the 12,500 km. service. I told them thanks, but the car actually had 20,000 km. (or, 12,500 miles) on it. I didn't really mind the honest mistake one time, but I don't really want it to happen again. Having your car serviced is an expensive undertaking in Switzerland - an oil change costs about $60 as opposed to the $25 one pays at Jiffy Lube in the U.S.
Also, the notice for my car inspection just came in today (January 31, 2005 at 1:00 p.m...."please arrive five minutes before your appointed time"). Switzerland has incredibly thorough mandatory car inspections which apparently come up once every four years. They go over the car with a fine-toothed comb, and whatever they find wrong you have to have repaired within a certain time period. This, too, can become kind of expensive. I'm going to bring my notice in to the blue lab coat boys tomorrow and tell them to get the car ready for the inspection. I fully expect tomorrow's service to cost about 2,000 CHF (about $1,735 U.S.). Then, I'll have to bring it back right before the inspection to have the engine steam cleaned (required for the inspection) and pay a high wage earning mechanic in a blue lab coat to drive my car over to the testing station (not required, but there's no way I'm going to try to decipher auto part names in Swiss-German), and it will set us back another few hundred francs. When you add up the maintenance, insurance (2,900 CHF per year), parking (175 CHF per month in our new apartment), and gasoline (1.45 CHF/liter or about $4.78 U.S./gallon), it starts to seem pretty expensive to keep a vehicle that we drive only a couple of times per week.
And speaking of insurance...I just e-mailed our insurance agent with a few questions, and I asked him why our car insurance premiums are so high considering that our car is now five years old. He responded with a number of reasons, but the shocking one was that the insurance value in Switzerland of our 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is 46,000 CHF. That means that our five year old Jeep is currently worth $39,937.48 U.S. in Switzerland (using today's exchange rate). Our car is worth more than we paid for it five years ago!!! Maybe it's not that expensive a thing to keep around afterall.

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