'02 Nissan Altima 2.5SE

I have a 4 cylinder Nissan Altima 2.5SE. It’s been having issues lately, so I just took it to the dealer. I have about 100,000 miles on it, and found that the head gasket is leaking into the cylinder and causing misfires. Only about $75 in parts, but $1500 labor. The question I have is this. I owe about $4,000 on it, with about 1.5 years left to pay on it. Should I spend $1500 to fix this, or try and just trade it in somewhere for another “new to me” car? I’ve heard issues with dropping oil and cat issues (which I think I already have that was estimated around $900 to repair a year ago). What would be a fair trade in value on this condition?

  Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

I don’t normally take it to the dealer, but have not found a local mechanic that has done much better than the dealer. I found one local mechanic that seemed good, but the work was questionable.

At this price, and given how many miles I have on it and the many problems that seem to exist for this year/make/model, should I bother? Or start looking for a newer used car?

If you like the car and the rest of it is in good shape I’d suggest doing the repair. Replacement of the cat converter, which is probably a result of the headgasket breech, can be done as a DIY with an aftermarket “direct fit” converter for far less than you’ve been quoted.

Called another local service shop and they are quoting me around $1100. May have to go steak the car from the dealer and try that.

Thanks for the tip. Found a cat converter for about $300 online, direct fit. I’m not really mechanically inclined…still something I can handle you think?