Handle from Hades: Here's How Much We Spent On Unexpected Car Maintenance

Read how we handled an unexpected car maintenance cost, how I embarrassed myself in front of everyone and how my husband is a hero. It's an entertaining story, promise. #storytelling #money #carfails

“If anyone’s driving a kinda medium-ish SUV-type car? Not like soccer mom status, but bigger than those hatchback kinds that I feel like all computer developers drive. It’s blue, like not sky blue, but not navy. Kind of a cerulean, really. Y’all have seen “The Devil Wears Prada",” right? Cerulean. Anyway, you left your lights on.”

“What kind of car?”

“Oh, no idea. Cerulean, though.”

^me, probably, if I ever was DJ-ing an event and had to make one of those car announcements.

I’m not a car guy.

Not my thing. Like, embarrassingly so very NOT my thing. I can’t tell you what make has what engine, heck — I can’t even tell you what brand it is. I have to think really hard to remember the year and model of MY OWN CAR.

I simply … do not care about cars.

I know that mine is old, and that it’s safe, and that I’ve (knock on wood) never had any problems with it.

Until two and a half weeks ago, that is.

I love my little car, and will ride it into the ground, but it recently gave me a big ol’ eyeroll.

The backstory:

It was a Tuesday morning, and I was running late for work. (Obviously. Does anything ever happen when you’re running early?)

I’d spilled my coffee where I‘d been writing early that morning, and my hair was having * a moment * as it is wont to do. But, that’s OK because it’s Tuesday and I can still turn this week around! …

… I think naively from my car, where I’ve now been sitting for over an hour in traffic.

Charleston rush hour is no laughing matter (seriously, y’all, please … stop moving here? It’s too many.), but it’s not over-an-hour bad usually. Turns out that there was a wreck at the very top of the main bridge that dumps people downtown. My 20-minute commute escalated into a grand total of one hour and 17 minutes.

Relieved that I’d still pulled into my beloved parking space downtown before my 9:30 a.m. meeting, I gathered my daily 48 bags and reached for my door handle.

And then my door handle looked me in the face and said, “YOU THOUGHT!!!!!!”

The handle snapped with a defiant crack, and I sat there dumbfounded. The crack rendered the handle useless, trapping me in my own car with only a half-eaten Lara bar to keep me company.

I didn’t even know car handles could break. But, of course that happened to me. These things always do.

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I mean, did YOU know that a handle could snap like that?!

I mean, did YOU know that a handle could snap like that?!

Though I was racing the clock to get to my meeting on time, I managed to find time to send a video to my husband, because priorities.

Unsure of how else to proceed, I re-gathered my 48 bags and maneuvered my way over to the passenger side to exit. All I can say is thank GOODNESS I wasn’t wearing a dress for once.

Steal my car, but reimburse me for  Red , please.

Steal my car, but reimburse me for Red, please.

I made it through the rest of my day relatively unscathed.

Oh, except I dumped a quart of dried oatmeal in my file cabinet.

But other than that.

Over the course of the next week, I perfected the stealthy slide out of the passenger door. My husband was the one that pointed out that I could roll down my driver’s side window, open the door from the outside, then roll the window back up with the door open.



This whole experience has been a learning one.

For example, I learned I would rather the entire Pure Barre studio not gaze in wonder as I try to exit my own vehicle in the parking lot. I am not a proud woman, but that’s just attention I can do without. See how much I’ve learned?!!

As much fun as it was to hang out of my car window like the redneck I am, my husband and I had to make some decisions:

Where can I get this fixed, and how much will it cost us?

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I let him take the wheel on this and handle the situation. (Sry, I can’t pass up a pun.)

He ended up finding and ordering the part online, thinking that no respectable mechanic would have a 2005 Toyota car handle in ready supply anyway, should we wind up taking it to a shop. The only thing he could find was a dual pack with the passenger and driver side door handles for $30. Also, the paint (finish? idk) of the lock tab was gray, and the new piece is black.

(Um, who cares? Did I mention it’s a 2005 Toyota…?)

I should preface the rest of the story by saying my husband is mechanically minded and good with his hands. In other words, he’s the literal opposite of me. He watched some YouTube videos and understood generally how to fix it himself.

Still, there are plenty of reasons why we were leaning toward taking it to a mechanic.

Pros of DIY:

  • It’s less expensive.

Cons of DIY

  • Time

  • Surrounding plastic extremely sun-worn and easily breakable (large chance he makes it worse)

  • If he gets in too deep and THEN breaks something/can’t figure it out, then how do we drive it to a mechanic??

  • Emotional turmoil and stress

  • If he spends an entire afternoon working on it and still doesn’t fix it, he may explode and/or divorce me

So, based on the above pro/con list, which option do you think presented itself as the clear winner?


Maybe because we vomited slightly at the thought of spending $200 for such a small fix, or maybe because my husband is dangerously bull headed, he chose the “Let me just try” route. He carved out an entire afternoon to attempt this fix — which, although it make look minor, requires that the door panel is removed. sCaRy.

And glory be, if he didn’t sit there and fix it in ten minutes flat.

yes, he cracked a tiny piece of plastic but, y’all, trust me when I say it doesn’t stand out amongst my cars other cracks.

yes, he cracked a tiny piece of plastic but, y’all, trust me when I say it doesn’t stand out amongst my cars other cracks.

He is a hero and a man and an ANGEL, and he’s never been so attractive to me. Except for maybe that one time he did “the worm” and I didn’t stop laughing for three days.

When is saving money not worth the time or emotional turmoil?

This decision to DIY-it shocked me, frankly. This is exactly the type of situation I’m talking about when I harp on about being a time snob. I’m a huge advocate of allocating your waking hours efficiently, and saying no to things that just don’t take a front seat for you.

RELATED READ: 3 Reasons Why You Should Be a Time Snob

My husband is a hard-working professional.

I’m sure he didn’t want to meddle with the Handle from Hades after six long days of working this week. His time and peace of mind are well worth $200 that we likely would’ve spent at a repair shop. I would’ve faced that decision with a grin. (Well, a grimace, but one with a willing and understanding acceptance.) However, now that it’s fixed and I can’t risk jinxing it, I can openly say I’m EXTRA happy that it was fixed for just $30.

I guess what I’m saying is that sometimes, it’s worth a lot of money to pay for convenience.

And sometimes, your husband swoops in like greased lightning and makes everything rockin’ and rollin’ and whatnot.

a GIF that will be totally lost on my husband </3

a GIF that will be totally lost on my husband </3

This is our money win for the month. What’s yours? Have you ever been able to DIY a car fix? This is a completely new concept to me … let me know in the comments below!