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The Pointless Art of Putting off Purchases

Chris Haining August 3, 2016 All Things Hoon 14 Comments

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So, earlier this year my trusty Halfords own-brand, Pacific-rim manufactured 12 volt “Tyre Inflator” noisily coughed its last and seized. It was 20 or so years old and, though I opened it up out of morbid curiosity to gauge its potential fixability, I declared it dead. To be honest, judging by the sub-optimal engineering within, it’s a minor miracle that it made it through to its third operational decade.

So, with it confirmed as deceased, I reverted to my old (even older?) Halfords foot-pump. Thanks to a nail in Rover’s front right tyre, every third morning would see me pumping away at quarter-past seven, adding an additional 15PSI in order to drive to work. The tyre is now repaired, so my use of the foot pump became increasingly sporadic. A fortnight ago, though, I embarked on a plan to start using my bicycle again. I immediately discovered the tyres to contain not even a gnat’s fart worth of air, so it was out with the footpump again, which responded by falling to pieces in punishment for my complacency.

I stared at it numbly, with a knowing thought of “it figures”. And then smacked myself on the back of the head for not buying a replacement compressor already. What’s the longest you’ve unjustifiably left buying something you really need?

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I should have bought one immediately and saved myself considerable early morning effort and latter-day anguish. It’s not even as if a replacement would cost a lot of money.

In fact, it turned out to be embarrassingly inexpensive. I turned to the ever-reliable for their most recent reviews of portable 12 volt tyre inflators and their 2014 best buy was the Ring RAC635. Brisk Amazon research was to reveal that I could secure such a beast for just £25 including postage and packaging.

Mere seconds after it promptly arrived three working days later, I unboxed it to find that it was tiny, neatly presented in a zip-fastened storage bag and possessing an inordinately long power cable which would let me fill every tyre in my street while connected to my own 12v socket. I wheeled my bike to my car, attached the inflator and dialled up 45PSI on through the nifty rotary-encoder, and pressed go. Somehow the tiny wee box summoned up herculean strength and the tyre rose from 8PSI to 45 in a matter of seconds. And it has an hilariously pointless flashing red LED you can enable that blinks ‘”SOS” in morse!

I couldn’t believe how far ultra-cheap mini-compressor technology had progressed in just twenty years. Why the bloody hell didn’t I buy one earlier?

What financially inconsequential motoring purchase have you pointlessly delayed for an unforgivable period of time?

(Both images copyright Chris Haining / Redusernab 2016. If you really want to use these images, ask yourself “why?”)

  • GTXcellent

    I am very frugal – although MiSSus GTXcellent has a different, much more derogatory term that starts with a C and ends with a Heap, so there are many, many, many times I’ve had to say, “yes dear, I’m glad you bought that [insert item here], it certainly makes life easier.” Probably the most automotive related would be an orbital buffer. For years and years I took great pleasure in a hand-rubbed carnauba wax finish – never mind that it took several hours, and resulted in crippled up hands and aching shoulders. Do you know there’s a lot of paint in a full size, crew-cab, long box pickup? I digress. A simple $30 buffer for a Fathers’ Day gift a few years back – what an eye opener.

  • Batshitbox

    Air pumps seem to be a tragedy in my life, lately. My Joe Blow bicycle pump pooped out a while back, and I bought a new one which I left, still in the wrapping, in the bed of my truck for the local hooligans to enjoy. For the annual trip to Mexico I bought a foot pump from Craptastic Auto Parts, which turned out to be craptastic. Eventually I found a tiny (“hot-dog”) compressor in a garbage pail at work and revived it by draining about a pint of water out of it. It sounds like a small jackhammer and I always make sure to point the broad side of the tank away from expensive things (like my legs.)

  • CraigSu

    I learned the hard way that it’s a good idea to have your car running while you’re using the 12-volt supplied compressors. If you don’t it can substantially drain your battery.

    • caltemus

      Added dead battery insult to flat tire injury

  • smokyburnout

    I picked up a thrift store 12V air compressor a few years back, but the first time I used it, it got one tire up to maybe 31 PSI and then stopped working. I thought it had some sort of internal failure, but then the next day when I needed to plug in my GPS I found that it had just blown the fuse for the car’s 12V outlet.

    Do more modern compressors by any chance draw fewer amps?

  • wunno sev

    i spent like $150 last weekend and bought a cordless impact wrench, battery+charger, and impact socket set before swapping out all four struts on my car.

    WHAT WAS I THINKING ALL THESE YEARS?! there’s no amount of money one can pay to get back the time one has spent spinning a ratchet five clicks at a time. i knew that someday i would buy one of these things, so why did i put it off? if it works until a day past its warranty and then shits the bed, it’ll have been worth every penny.

    • Firmly on my list of to-buy items. I suspect I’ll probably end up buying one a week after I’ve smashed up all my sockets trying to swap out all four struts on my car.

    • JayP

      I bought a corded inpact wrench from Harbor Freight. I declined the extended warranty but the cashier reminded me there was a 90 day return policy- just in case. So far its been working great and I spend WAY less time getting the brake fluid changed.

  • Sjalabais

    Buying new stuff like a compressor can be a revelation. Then, when it breaks, I’ll just go back to normal “do that later”-mode.

  • nanoop

    I’m still thinking that I could improvise an engine hoist instead of buying a crane.
    I am not doing anything since years, since engine mounts wear gradually. ..

  • Alff

    Roll away toolboxes. I don’t know why I waited 20 years to buy one but the lifestyle improvement was so dramatic that I bought a second one within a year.

  • Alexis L

    Like all of you, I also hem and haw over investing in new tools. Less so now that I’m older – I had one very important revelation. One of those traveling junk tool shows came to town (think Harbor Freight returns) and my neighbor and I split a compressor, impact wrench, die grinder, air rachet, etc and compressor. I think we each spent about $200 and boy did the clouds part. Shocks, struts, tire switch overs and exhaust were immensely easier. I think I saved back what I spent in a matter of weeks not months, and most of the stuff lasted a few years, some of it still is soldiering on. I did have to upgrade to a better impact wrench ($75 at Walmart) that would break off the lugs where the cheapie needed help.

    I would do the same in a heartbeat. And if you find a trusted friend or neighbor who also likes to wrench on his or her free time, you really only need one set of a) jack b) jack stands c) compressor and tools, etc. Handtools, on the other hand, are personal and you should always have yours and know where they are. I’ve had good luck getting lifetime warrantied cheaper handtools (only took me about a dozen cheap socket sets to determine that a $50 set was worth its weight in gold) although if you’re a pro probably stick with the big boys.

  • JayP

    Kinda tool-ish… jacking rails on the car. The PO had them installed. Nothing I’d bothered with as they need to be welded in. Man does it make lifting the car a snap. I can lift one side, slide 2 jacks under the rail and on to the next side. In the air in less than 3 minutes.

    Before I discovered the rails: Drive up rhino ramps because the car is too low, jack up the front, stands under subframe which was a dodgy thing, then on to the back where I have about a half inch of leverage on the jack since it’s nose up.

  • SlowJoeCrow

    I’ve gone 15 years without a wheeled creeper in the garage, after I broke a caster on mine while misusing it as a motorcycle dolly. I actually use my wheeled stool more and when I do need to get under the car, a large sheet of cardboard gets the job done.
    We’ve actually done OK with tire pumps, other than having a couple of cheap mini-pumps fall apart. Apparently Lezyne, Blackburn, and PDW are worth the money, although I did have to glue the handle back on my PDW pump. Other than that I probably need a new air compressor hose, because it seems like every other time I use it the end of the hose splits and I have to trim it back and reinstall thje connector.

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