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Car issues again...

I knew there were things that would make me fail inspection this year; I didn't know how bad the situation was.  It's $1200 bad - the big item is that the exhaust system needs to be redone; apparently, something corroded completely through.  I thought that the only issue I'd have was with lights; I think there's a problem with some of the sockets on one side (although it may just be bulbs), and the plastic lens is broken on the other side, either of which is a fail.  There were also some concerns with the steering and the brakes, neither of which are fail status, but which bothered me.

There is one big issue that I WILL need to deal with, though not immediately; it's one that should be dealt with sooner rather than later, but I have to really think about it, given the $1600 price tag to correct a leaking head gasket. The car is nearly 20 years old, and I don't use it enough to really warrant replacing it unnecessarily - but there does come a time when repairs/maintenance reach a point of diminishing returns, and this might be it.

The other really expensive issue is the air conditioner, which blows hot right now. To get it to blow cold on demand will require a $1200 refit of the whole thing; I can't just have it patched and recharged, because my freon isn't legal any more.  That, I can ignore entirely, given how rarely I use the car; when it's hot, I can just roll the windows down.

Right now, I'm concentrating on the inspection-related issues, the brakes, and the steering. Once I get legal, I'll think about the rest.


Do you think perhaps it could be cheaper to just buy something for under $1500? A used, but decent car? I'd hate to see you put so much money into a car that may not last another year or two...

Like you said, sometimes there does come a time when repairs/maintenance reach a point of diminishing returns, and this might be it.
I think this might be it...

Well, I have concerns about getting used cars from strangers - no problem with "inheriting" used cars from family, where I know the entire history, but that's not an option here (family doesn't have any that won't require even more work). The real big item is the head gasket, and I suspect that it's actually been a "problem" for a LONG time now - but because I use the car so infrequently, it's not one that's been getting worse. I WILL take care of it - the car is actually in much better shape than it sounds like, and it's not unlikely that these are OLD problems - just not right now (and probably not for a few months, as long as I don't see any operating problems or degradation). I'm not surprised that there are Issues; the car *is* 20 years old, and was never really maintained well - and has 130,000 miles on it.

On a strictly economic argument, I'm almost better off just renting a car when I need one; I don't use a car that often. However, I like what I like in a car, and it's bloody well impossible to rent stick any more (I hate automatics). I've had the car for enough years, and really didn't maintain it, that this $1200-at-a-shot isn't really that bad, when you spread it out over the period when I SHOULD have been doing proper maintenance. Ditto the head gasket issue; it's just that $2500 at a shot, while not a problem for me, is uncomfortable.

*nod* I hear ya, and it sounds like you got the right idea. But just you know, there is alaways carfax.com - it gives a history on used cars, if you have the vin #. It will tell you everything from accident history to repair history. *hugs* I wish you lots of luck with this.

You can still by stick shifts. I think they are generally cheaper than a car that is an automatic. You can get a "program" car. Its a rental vehicle with low mileage that is still under warantee with the dealer. That is how we bought our van. All the bells and whistles and it cost us a lot less than buying the same car new. You often get this year or last year's model when you do that. Just a thought. Our van has 200k + miles on it, and we have just done regular maintenance on it.

Sounds like with $3800 in repairs needed on a 20-year-old car, the cost of repairs is more than the probable value of the car unless it's something out of the ordinary. My inclination would be to get rid of it and put the $3800, plus whatever you can get for it, into something newer and in better shape (and probably more fuel-efficient and cleaner-running, too). See if you can find someplace doing one of those "We guarantee you $2000 for your trade-in" deals.