More car trouble

Well, I just spent $1500 last month to fix my alternator and a few other things. Recently, a grinding sound became noticeable at idle so I took it to the shop and now they say it needs a new AC compressor for around $1000.

Since the car is a 1995, I’m wondering whether to sink more money into it or to seriously look at replacing it with something newer.

What would you do?

5 thoughts on “More car trouble

  1. I typically lease, so its not the kind of problem I often deal with as I just drop the keys at the end of one term (which is fully warrantied) and pick up another set at the same time. Not a whole lot of equity buildup, but certainly easy to budget as there’s never any unexpected repair costs lurking in the darkness 😉

  2. Do the math, analyze the possibility, and post the results. You’ll often be surprised by what makes the most sense.

    I did the math last summer and found that it was cheaper to move closer to work than to continue my commute over a 1 year period. Owning an average 1995 car in this area costs about $4k/year (insurance, fuel, repairs/maintenance, capitol costs over time) and commuting cost an additional $8k (value of my time).

    As for fix vs. replace, you’ll find a difference between repair, buy used, and buy new (depending on the vehicles in question). Consumer reports usually runs numbers that include average failure rates overall for most vehicles. In my area of Canada, I budget $1k/year in maintenance for a newer import, and up to $3k/year for anything 10 years or older. A better vehicle (and better maintenance record) will require fewer repairs on average, so I use Consumer Reports car guides when replacing vehicles.

  3. My general rule is if it costs more to keep it running than it would cost to buy a new car, it’s time to buy a new one. I got rid of my 95 Corolla in 2003 when it needed a new compressor only about a month after I spent about $300 on electrical work.

  4. My 1998 Acura has been pretty cheap to maintain so far, just oil changes, regular service, a set of tires, and a radiator.

    At some point in the next few years it’ll start requiring more and more non-routine works. Once it does, I’ll start shopping around.

    It’s not a hard and fast rule, but I hoope I’ll figure it out before I’ve poured too much money into it.

  5. I would say that it depends on what your situation is. If the car is all paid off, and the only thing that you have to worry about is repairs, then the question becomes (as others have pointed out) is it cheaper to continue repairing the car, or to replace it?

    I have a 1996 Saturn that I intend on keeping, but mostly because in the course of buying it (which I am still doing…) I have managed to replace most of the major components in the car. Literally, the only two things left to replace that are major are the engine and the transmission. And since both of those cost about the same (on my car) to repair or to replace, and I’ve replaced everything else… I will probably keep the car when one, the other, or both fail and replace them, too.

    But, as I said, and as others have said, it depends on your situation. If you have more newer parts on the car than not, then the choices to me would be (A) buying a totally new car, or (B) fixing the current one. Buying a “new” used car is generally a toss-up, and I don’t generally like toss-ups like that.

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