I have a 2002 Ford Explorer 4WD with 166K miles. I bought it new. It had the routine Ford recommended maintenance done at a Ford dealership from 2002-2011. I had no problems until 2007 when the O/D began flashing. Ford installed a rebuilt transmission and replaced rear differential. It ran great for a couple years and then in 2010 problems began. Flashing 4WD light. Flashed in sequence 8 times every 2 min on the dot. Ford replaced transfer case. Flashing again. Replaced sensors. Flashing again. Replaced another sensor. Oil leaks. Transmission fluid leaks. Both repaired. 6 months later leaking again. Left Ford in 2011 and found new auto repair shop. Output shaft seal replaced. Another transfer case sensor replaced. Noise in right rear end that mechanics could not pinpoint. I thought it was coming from rear tire so i took it to tire/brake shop instead. Noise was broken right rear brake pad slipping around. Found a new auto repair shop. Now in 2013 it has hard shift from neutral to reverse and from park to reverse, a sluggish then jolting feel when driving above 40 mph, and groaning/squeaking (like rusty springs) sound in rear end when driving over speed bumps. Auto shop says there is clicking noise that they pinpoint to transmission. Recommend yet another transmission (this time a Jasper), trans cooler, rear controller arm assemblies, and front struts = $6500.
I don’t think buying a new car is always the answer to mechanical problems. However, I have easily spent 12-15K in repairs in the last 3-5 years. I can no longer afford a new SUV of comparable size so I have had to look at used. My concern is that I will buy someone elses problems. Just as someone would do if I sold my car. I also cannot afford to continue pouring money into this car if it will not last another couple years. The explorer has never had body damage, airbags have never been deployed, it has bright, glossy paint finish with only the normal paint chips to front end, and the interior leather upholstery is in great condition. The interior is spotless. I haven’t seen anything used under $20K that is in as good a condition. Yet because of the mileage mine is valued at $3.5-4K.
I don’t know anything about cars other than what I have learned as I address the issues with my own car. And that “certified” is not necessarily a guarantee. I will be moving across country soon and I need a car I can depend on. I don’t have anyone to consult other than the mechanic, Ford forums, and car talk forums which I have been reading for the last 3 months.
What about my engine? How does all of these problems affect an engine in the long term? Is the engine goinig to last as long as I continue routine oil changes and maintenance. Can I expect to get 200-250K miles on it?
When a vehicle is not a hobby or a collector’s item, but is simply necessary transportation, is there a point when one should stop repairing it. Whether because of age, or mileage, or amount of repairs versus resale value, etc.? Or, does it just make sense to continue repairing a vehicle until on an annual basis it becomes more expensive than buying new?