Our Car Maintenance Costs Over Time

I was reviewing the repair records for cars, and was interested to find how similar they were.

My Maxima

My car is a 1997 Nissan Maxima SE with a little under 150K miles. I bought it in September 2000. Since then, I’ve spent $7,275.29 on maintenance, including all repairs and oil changes.

That works out to $520/year, or $43/month. I’ve only kept track of my gas mileage and cost since 2008. It has varied quite a bit with the cost of gas over those years, but the average annual cost has been $939, or $78.25/month.

My wife’s car is a 2004 Honda Odyssey with around 120K miles. We bought it in May 2007 and have spent $3,945.69 on repairs and oil changes. I haven’t kept track of the gas mileage, but maintenance has cost us $563/year, or $47/month over the course of the 7 years we’ve owned it.

What surprised me most was how similar the monthly costs have been between the two cars. I’m curious to hear what other real world vehicles have cost over the long run. It’s helpful for budgeting to know we should set aside $50/month for each vehicle.

How to Get an A+ on SSL Labs Report

As a follow up to my post on cheap SSL certificates, I learned that the certificate wasn’t the reason I was getting an A- on the Qualys SSL Labs test. But after a few configuration changes, I achieved the coveted A+ grade.

A+ on Qualys SSL Labs report

First, find out your current grade by entering your web site here. If it’s an A+, congratulations! If not, continue reading.

This is the NGINX configuration I’m using (in the server block):

ssl_protocols TLSv1 TLSv1.1 TLSv1.2;
    ssl_prefer_server_ciphers on;

    ssl_session_cache  builtin:1000  shared:SSL:10m;

    ssl_stapling on;
    ssl_stapling_verify on;
    resolver valid=300s;
    resolver_timeout 10s;

    add_header Strict-Transport-Security max-age=63072000;
    add_header X-Frame-Options DENY;
    add_header X-Content-Type-Options nosniff;

The only browser this doesn’t support is IE 6 on Windows XP, but I’m okay with that. Windows XP is no longer supported and IE 6 is just about dead (thank goodness). If you’re daring, use the above configuration or the configs at CipherLi.st and hope for the best. I opted for the legacy support option (click on the “Yes, give me a ciphersuite that works with legacy / old software.” link). And CipherLi.st has example configurations for Apache and Lighttpd.

If you want to learn more about what each of the options do, I found these two tutorials helpful:

  1. Configuring Apache, Nginx, and OpenSSL for Forward Secrecy
  2. Strong SSL security

Blank New Tab in Chrome

Chrome keeps changing the layout of the new tab page, but I just want a blank page that loads quickly. The Empty New Tab extension almost did what I wanted, but I didn’t like the blank titles. It was like staring into soulless eyes.

So I created a new extension, dubbed Quick New Tab. It’s based off of Empty New Tab but creates new blank tabs with the title “New Tab”.

Quick New Tab screenshot

It’s free, it requires no permissions, and I already love it.

The source code is on github.

I also learned it is surprisingly easy to create a Chrome extension.

Cheap SSL Certificate For Single Domains

First off, if you already run an SSL-enabled server, update your SSL certificates immediately. You can use this tool to see if your site is vulnerable to HeartBleed, a serious issue in OpenSSL.

If you want to enable SSL for your web site or to spend less for your SSL certificates, read on.

There are three types of validation for SSL certificates.

1. Domain validation

You show you own the domain by responding to an email sent to your domain.
Issue time: minutes

2. Organization validation

You show you own the business through paperwork as well as performing the domain validation.
Issue time: a few days

3. Extended validation

You have to verify your organization’s legal name, physical address, phone number, your right to use the domain name and a bunch of other things.
Issue time: up to a week

The cheap SSL certificates are domain validated and support a single domain. You can use the links below to see prices for the more expensive wildcard SSL certificates, but I won’t be discussing them here. And if you’re just starting out, a cheap SSL certificate for a single domain will be fine.

SSL certificates aren’t all equal. They also serve a few purposes. The most basic feature is encrypting web traffic, but you should also consider browser recognition and the reputation of the issuing Certificate Authority (CA) (e.g. Thawte, GeoTrust, Verisign, etc.) Major CAs have good browser recognition (99%+) so the last factor to consider is their reputation. Comodo/PositiveSSL have had security breaches, which tarnishes their reputation.

Most of the sites below resell these cheap SSL certificates from different CAs. Oddly, you can get them much cheaper from the reseller than you can by going to the source. Take a look at SSL Shopper’s CA review page to get an overview of a CA’s reputation.

The prices below are all for 1 year. They’re often cheaper when you pay for multiple years.


GoGetSSL has the lowest price, but I haven’t used their service. The reviews I’ve read were favorable.


SSLs is the next cheapest, but again, I haven’t used them. Reviews I read were also positive.


Namecheap (RapidSSL) is the one I use and recommend. They’re not the only one to do this, but putting the www prefix (i.e. www.example.com) in the certificate’s common name makes the certificate work for both www.example.com and example.com. Ordering was quick and painless and their live support was knowledgeable and helpful.


Digicert is by no means the cheapest, but I’ve seen nothing but positive reviews raving about their customer support and how they have the highest acceptance rating. It seems like a good option if you’re going for the ultimate in SSL certificates and customer service.


StartSSL is free, but they have some restrictions. The first one is it’s not permitted to use it for commercial purposes. That’s often a deal breaker right there. Second, they charge $25 to reissue free certificates. To fully protect yourself from Heartbleed you needed to reissue your certificates.

Testing your installation

Lastly, once you’ve bought and installed your certificate, test it to make sure nothing is awry.

Here are four sites to test it, in order of thoroughness.

My $11/year Namecheap RapidSSL certificate got an A- on SSL Labs (for not supporting Forward Secrecy), 100% on Wormly and passed tests 3 and 4 with flying colors.

Results of the SSL Labs report

1. SSL Labs – The most thorough test I’ve found, but it takes a minute or two to run. Returns a letter grade.
2. Wormly – Also thorough. Takes a minute or two and rates the site with a percentage.
3. DigiCert – Runs quickly, just not as thorough.
4. BlueSSL – Also fast and easy.

Can You Spot the Liar?

The New York times has an entertaining test to see if you can spot the liar. I got 8/10 correct and found it easier to guess after only watching the first few seconds of the video. I wanted to watch one video again, but I couldn’t. I’m guessing that’s intentional, so make sure to pay attention.

The article related to the test is about airline security’s misplaced faith in body language. After having just flown last week, I felt like the process wasn’t as bad. Maybe the TSA has come to terms with their role as security theater.

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September 2014
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Dan: Hah, I’d forgotten all about getting those cargo nets together. The ol’ Maxima is still humming...

Cameron: I’m pleasantly surprised you still have that car and I’m impressed at your record keeping...

Dan: That’s a good idea Luke, thanks for the input.

Luke S: Thanks for this resource! I tried to go with your first choice but my computer doesn’t recognize the...

Tundra Nugget: @albie I am also a nerd. I managed only two aces and one two.

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