Ignoring It Won’t Make It Go Away


Back in 2013, I traded up my Mazda 6 Sport Wagon for a used Volvo XC90 with approximately 74,000 miles on it. That was half the mileage I’d accumulated on the Mazda, and since I used it for hauling all my DJ equipment, the added space was a nice bonus to the newer vehicle.

Of course, within the first week, I learned that the car had an oil leak. Apparently, the AutoNation dealer that sold it to us stripped the threading to the drain plug while preparing it for sale. After much back and forth, they enlarged the whole (with new threading) and we were working again. The whole experience felt sour, and even with the oil leak fixed the car never really felt great from that point forward.

Over the years, I continued regular maintenance schedules for things like oil changes, tire rotate and balance, brake pads and such. But I never took it back to a dealer, and I never took it in for another major service (we were told the 75K was performed when we purchased).

Within the first 12 months, a warning came on that the Anti-Skid needed service. Occasionally this would result in the traction control system turning off, but the car still remained driveable. It seemed to burn oil, but I’d just keep a quart on hand in case the warning light came on and top off between regular changes. There were some clicking noises, but nothing I never really could pinpoint.

There were other issues too, and I pretty much ignored them. Turning the radio up loud enough would mask the weird sounds the car made while accelerating or when the air conditioning was on. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Last month, our Volvo finally rolled over 150,000 miles on the odometer. The day I’d been dreading was finally here: I had to take it in. And while I’d been avoiding service altogether, I knew that I didn’t trust this kind of service to just anyone. That’s when I called the local dealership to get a quote on the service.

When the phone stopped ringing, the service manager was on the other end. I told him what kind of vehicle I had and what kind of service it needed. At first, he seemed in awe of the 150K service, as if maybe most people don’t drive their Volvo that long (or at least they aren’t taking it to the dealer at that stage). Once we confirmed a few things, including the VIN number, he said he needed to price out a few parts and get back to me. The phone rang about 20 minutes later.

“Are you sitting down?” he asked me. After a little description of what the service entails, he said the estimate was $1,990 plus taxes and disposal fees.

Ouch. I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, but that was about 1.5x what I’d initially budgeted in my head. But it had to be done, and I knew that some other lingering issues might creep up in the process. Things like that clicking noise I’d been covering up with the radio. With the service scheduled for the start of the following week, we were good to go.

While my Service Consultant, Chuck, was writing up the work order, I rattled off some of the other things that had been bugging me, mostly that anti-skid light. He noted it and said they’d pull the codes and let me know.

I got a call back a few hours later, and to my surprise, Chuck didn’t ask if I was sitting down when he shared the news. In addition to all that stuff the 150K service provides, the car also had a leaking brake booster vacuum pump (that’s where the oil has been going!). The battery was so low that it was “severely failing” during tests of the electrical system. I had an engine torque mount go south, the source of my weird clicking noise. The anti-skid? They didn’t even need to pull a code; they could visually see the problem.

The service also updated the car software modules. Six of them to be exact.

The total service cost me just over $3,300. And the entire 7-mile drive home, it felt like I was driving a brand new car and not the 10-year-old beast that I’ve been neglecting over the years.

For the most part, that money was just deferred maintenance. I’d of paid it one way or another, but if I’d been doing it regularly instead of waiting four years for everything to happen at once, I could have spread the payments out over time. Many of those issues may have been caught early enough that others wouldn’t have even occurred.

One thing remained true: No matter how much I ignored the situation, it never went away.

I entrusted a professional with my vehicle to fix what I’d been putting off for years, and after the pinch of the wallet was gone I’m in a much happier place. The car runs great, and hopefully, it’ll keep going another 150,000 miles with proper TLC.

Your business is a lot like that, too. There are lots of things that we avoid, either because it’s a nuisance or because we don’t like doing it. Maybe it costs too much. Perhaps we think that tomorrow it will go away. So we turn up the radio to blare over the fact that we’ve not been keeping up with our accounting system. We shuffle some papers and forget to pay the IRS on time because we’ve not saved any money in advance and didn’t have it to cut the check. We don’t handle the employee that we need to hire – or fire – to make the business run more smoothly.

Don’t put off today what you can knock out today. You’ll never reap the reward if you wait, and you might only be making matters worse.

And if you need a reputable Volvo dealer in the Sacramento area, hit me up. I know a guy.