When to let that car go...

Joined
Mar 2, 2004
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Kentucky
I keep my vehicles around as long as they're safe, don't cost a fortune for upkeep, and still look reasonably nice. Usually it takes some combination of things happening for me to get rid of it.. For example if the paint is already failing (expensive repair) and the transmission goes out, it might be time to go.

I find with on-time maintenance and repairs and overall just generally taking good care of your vehicles (washing, waxing, not being a slob inside them) will keep them on the road for a long time.

Rust is a huge variable, but I don't have to deal with that too much where I live, only on cars that come from further up north-- I can spot that on a Carfax before I buy.
 
Joined
Jan 19, 2017
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Texas,USA
Is auto mechanics a hobby, or PITA. If it’s a hobby, a person would be more inclined to keep going.
Gotta be careful letting your hobby impact your profession though. I’ve know many track or trail weekend warriors with no ride to work on Monday cause their toy was also their DD. Been one of those guys a time or two... or 20.
 

doublebase

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Dec 28, 2014
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To keep a car on the road, I’ve rebuilt front ends. Rebuilt engines. Replaced transmissions. Repaired valve bodies. Done the entire set of brake lines (nicopp is the way to go, by the way, with a tubing bender and good flaring tool).

I can do anything mechanical. I‘ve done body work and paint for cosmetic reasons.

It‘s always been cheaper than payments. Cheaper than replacing the car, even with a used one.

My wife’s Volvo XC has had two complete suspension rebuilds* in its life

But replacing a frame is beyond me. Welding in new pieces of a unibody is beyond me. When/if the car hits that threshold, it’s done.


*Struts, shocks, front and rear springs, strut mounts, strut bushings, spring seats, control arm bushings, balljoints, inner & outer tie rods, sway bar links. A thorough job. Car still drives like new with nearly 280,000 on it. No rust. Good paint and interior. Well worth keeping.
Yeah I’ve always cut bait when I felt things were going to be getting out of control or not worth it, meaning just too many things were adding up...the mileage was high, and so many other factors. But I do wish I could convince myself to do what you’ve done. Who knows, I might go that route next time.

A year ago I was getting an inspection sticker and the techs had a Hyundai up on the loft that they were dropping a brand new tranny into. The thing had over 250,000 miles. Thought it was strange but the tech said the lady loved the car, and other than the tranny it was in great shape. Plus the tranny was relatively cheap too. Beats a car payment for sure.
 
Joined
Mar 2, 2004
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Gotta be careful letting your hobby impact your profession though. I’ve know many track or trail weekend warriors with no ride to work on Monday cause their toy was also their DD. Been one of those guys a time or two... or 20.
Having a spare vehicle has enabled me to keep older (or less reliable) vehicles on the road MUCH longer than I would have otherwise. I can do all the work on my cars, and take my time doing it. That's worth every penny of what a cheap second vehicle cost.
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2021
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PA
Rust free, and overall in good or better condition, I would absolutely do one or a few high dollar repairs into a host vehicle that had another 5-10 good years but for the issue being serviced (blown motor, bad trans, etc.).

I have several older vehicles, which are in overall excellent condition. If something were to fail, I'd likely spend the money fixing/replacing the failed part.

But if a vehicle is in poor condition overall and/or has multiple high dollar items that has continual breakdown problems, destroyed interior, rotting this, failing that, etc. it's time to move on.
 

CleanSump

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I'm at the decision point now on a 1997 Blazer. The trans is getting wonky on the 1-2 shift and reverse.
After I replace the accumulator and solenoids, we'll see if she's fixed.
If not, the $1200 trans vs get another vehicle debate begins.
 
Joined
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Ames, IA
The only reason I sold my 02 Voyager was rust. It had 165,000 trouble free miles, and I had raised my family in it, so attachment was strong. It had become my work car. Nothing didn’t work properly on that car except one of the auto locks on the passenger side sliding door, and that was only in cold weather.

The doors rusting wasn’t so bad, but once the dog legs started to go, it was time to say goodbye. Ugly matters, and if it’s that rusty there, how bad is it here I can’t see it. I sold it in 2016, bought new in October 2001.
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2004
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27,166
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CA
For me - if the interior or paint are beyond the point of economically feasible repair, the car is done.

If the issue is with the mechanical bits, that can be resolved....usually.


Maybe not to the degree @The Critic is doing on that little Corolla, but just the same...
We can raise your standards, ya know. ;)
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2003
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Tracy, CA
I try to do all my own repair work short of tires and alignments. So my cars usually get run into the ground.

I get rid of them (seldom) when they stop passing emissions tests and/or when I can no longer find parts for them (other than general maintenance parts).

The Legend was my 120 mi/day commuter so it made no sense to buy something I was going to wear out fast. I put another +200k miles on it after I acquired it.

The engine has never really been apart other than gaskets and timing belts. It's overdue for it's 3rd belt.

20210915_105453_resized.jpg


The transmission needs new syncho rings but I'm on the fence on whether or not I want to pull the trans out. It took a lot of searching, but I did manage to find the rings last year.
 
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Vancouver, BC Canada
Rusted frame/unibody. Prohibitively expensive to fix. I can fix about anything else.

I sent my much loved (it was my late father’s car) 1981 240D to the junkyard when the body rusted out. The rear subframe was bolted into rust. With a floor jack under the subframe, it went up while the car stayed put. The seats were bolted into rust. The engine and transmission were perfect, it only had 275,000 miles on it, barely broken in for a W123 diesel.

I found cracks in the frame of my 1970 Ford Fairlane When I had it on the lift at the Oceana Hobby Shop. It was a NJ car most of its life. Salt had taken a toll. It wasn’t a collectible, it was a plain Jane SW with no PS or AC. A young sailor in the stall next to me really wanted the 302 for his truck. I sold the car to him right there for $100 and a promise that he wouldn’t drive it.
Those W123's ultimately showed themselves to be rust buckets. Same, here, with Dad's 1977 300D. Was a shame....
 
Joined
Feb 6, 2021
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Massachusetts
If it can be fixed relatively easily and cheaply I will keep fixing it. Major engine problems or structural rust is the only thing that might make me consider giving up on my car. I live up north with horrendous roads so blown out or busted suspension parts are like tires and brakes to me.
 

doublebase

Thread starter
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Dec 28, 2014
Messages
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I try to do all my own repair work short of tires and alignments. So my cars usually get run into the ground.

I get rid of them (seldom) when they stop passing emissions tests and/or when I can no longer find parts for them (other than general maintenance parts).

The Legend was my 120 mi/day commuter so it made no sense to buy something I was going to wear out fast. I put another +200k miles on it after I acquired it.

The engine has never really been apart other than gaskets and timing belts. It's overdue for it's 3rd belt.

View attachment 86434

The transmission needs new syncho rings but I'm on the fence on whether or not I want to pull the trans out. It took a lot of searching, but I did manage to find the rings last year.
That Acura Legend was, well, a Legend.

Someone donated one with 300,000 miles to a shop I worked at. This thing still started and ran smooth as glass. We took the whole thing apart - and I felt guilty doing it - but it was being used for training purposes, but the QUALITY of that vehicle was truly amazing. Loved that thing!

Great to hear there is still one out there getting driven! 446,464 miles!! Hope you take it to 500,000
 
Joined
Dec 30, 2019
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Virginia
Pretty personal and situational. My old 250k mile E36 328i ran like a top, fun to drive, but it was getting rusty and leaked from the headliner in heavy rain onto the passenger seat. One rainy day, as I was trying to move up the chain at work, the Regional Director asked to go for lunch to discuss career path for me and asked if I could drive. It was then I knew that the 328 had to go, because even though I didnt mind tinkering and doint any mechanical work possible, I was never going to spend the money to fix the roof holes/sunroof frame. I drove it 120 miles a day, and it never let me down, just needed love on a monthly basis. Sold to my brother in law for next to nothing, he averaged 250 miles A MONTH! Car served him well for a lot of time.
Thats why I say, its personal. I plan to ride my 335 diesel to the end, at 150k miles and willing to replace almost anything in it, except a timing chain. Thats not worth the effort, but luckily its not a common issue.
 
Joined
Jan 2, 2004
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9,314
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California
I have a Prius on “borrowed” time - it’s at the age when the “expensive 3/4”; battery pack, brake actuator, fuel pump(gen 2)/head gasket(gen 3-4) and cat can render it undrivable. I can do those repairs, but I’ll take an insurance check if the cat’s stolen again(which knock on wood, hasn’t happened again with a few countermeasures). These cars can run forever if not for those. I’ve had a Lexus run in fairly decent mechanical shape almost to the 300K mark. A friend is replacing the transmission on a 98 F-150 that’s seen better days - but it was a free truck with a little sentimental value(owner he was close with passed away).

Most cars can hit the 200k mark with some repairs. some are prissier than others(Prius, Subaru, Honda and Ford) and expect a semi-major repair. Others, like BMWs I advise only leasing and if you buy - get rid of it around the 100-120K mark.
 
Joined
Jun 10, 2002
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Chattanooga, TN
When the issue cannot be diagnosed by the dealer and it is a larger problem waiting to happen. Hybrid, 9 years old only 90,000 miles on it but the gas engine refused to shut down at stop lights or even coasting, started several months ago, dealer says it is fine cannot find any issues. How do you tell the dealer that his tech has not idea what he is doing. I know when the engine is not running right after 9 years. So, I gave up, also fearful the battery was going to go and that would be $5,000 to replace. Car worth about 7500.
 
Joined
May 10, 2005
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2,094
Location
Jupiter, Fl
I wonder about this all the time. My G35 has just started to leak oil from the front timing cover above the crank - kind of a pain in the butt job. It has 200K miles on it and I intend to repair it. I bought the car new and I have kept it in perfect condition up until recently. In the last year the dashboard has cracked and the clearcoat on the roof is starting to get spotty. So, I need to get the roof resprayed and try to find an unavailable (new) dashboard. The car drives great, and it has never needed any repairs that fall outside the scope of 200K miles worth of maintenance. Even the new oil leak is not unexpected at 200K (but I do wonder about the wisdom of just resealing a 200K mile engine), and it hasn't gotten to the point of marking its territory yet, but the front of the engine is getting wet.

I've been driving the car like I stole it for 16 years now. It's a fourth vehicle, so while I typically drive it every day, it doesn't necessarily need to work 100% of the time. My main thought is that it has been paid for forever and it is still more fun to drive than anything I can afford to buy currently - and I know its history.

So, I don't know when it's time to give up. 18 months worth of tires are more expensive than any likely repairs. But I wonder all the time. I generally start wondering/worrying around the 180K mile mark - because that's when things tend to get expensive for me.

For me, it's not yet time. The car has almost zero value to anyone other than me, but I'm not ready to give it up.
 
Joined
Jul 13, 2003
Messages
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Tracy, CA
That Acura Legend was, well, a Legend.

Someone donated one with 300,000 miles to a shop I worked at. This thing still started and ran smooth as glass. We took the whole thing apart - and I felt guilty doing it - but it was being used for training purposes, but the QUALITY of that vehicle was truly amazing. Loved that thing!

Great to hear there is still one out there getting driven! 446,464 miles!! Hope you take it to 500,000

The engine is a SOHC but is odd in the way it has hydraulic tappets on the intake side and pushrods on the exhaust; rockers have mechanical adjustment.

The only known issue is the valve train gets noisy because the hydraulic tappets get stuck as mileage accumulates. Lots of owners use Restore to free them up but it seems to be a temporary thing. Since I get the car, I've been using Delo 15w-40, the idea was to extend the OCI. Side benefit was it cleaned the tappets enough to free them up, but it took a long time for the noise to go away.
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
513
Location
wa
I wouldn't put a $2500. used anything in any thing I have. That is a huge waste of $. Unless that transmission had only 10K or less miles on it.
The parts to fix the old trans would likely not have gone to 1000.
 
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