Another keep it or replace it question

Currently I drive a 01 Ford Focus with 146k, nothing is owed on it. The car had 109k when I bought it. I’m on the fence on weather to fix it or buy a new car.

Here’s what wrong with it: the driver’s side outside mirror is held on with duct tape, the assembly that houses the license plate lights is corroded so the lights burn out after only a night or two of use, the rear passenger side window is help up by a wedged in piece of cardboard, the dome light doesn’t work (not a fuse related).

In addition, over the winter I was a bit aggressive rocking it after becoming stuck in the snow. Basically the transmission made a noise like someone throwing a bunch of nuts and bolts into a fan. After that incident it still shifts fine, but that couldn’t have been good for it.

Also, the check engine light is on for the fifth time in a year and a half. Previous causes have been two 02 sensors, a cracked tube going to the pcv valve, and a sticking pcv valve. All were fixed. The light has been on this time for 12 days; I have not had a chance to get it scanned yet.

The the records I received when I bought it consisted of oil change receipts and one for a timing belt replacement. The timing belt is 4k miles overdue for a change, all of the other maintenance has been done following the owner’s manual (since I’ve owned it) According to the manual the car will need the fuel/air filter changed, spark plugs and wires as well as a transmission fluid change within the next 4k miles. With 146k on the original shocks, I’m assuming those need to be done too. I realize this is all maintenance that any car would need, but given the shaky service history, I’m hesitant to put a bunch of money into it.

Here’s what right with it: The car has newer tires and the alternator, catalytic converter and a/c compressor were replaced within the past year. Although there are a few scratches and dings on it, it has no rust as it had been garaged in the south up until I purchased it. The overall gas mileage is usually about 28 mpg.

Would you guys put money into this, or buy a new car? I’m looking at a Ford Fusion S with a manual transmission. It’s an 09 with a $3,500 rebate which would bring the price down to $15k. The car is a base model, but comes with all the options I would want. Also, it comes with the Advantage plan, so if I lost my job at least I wouldn’t have to worry about the payment up to 12 months.

Sorry for the long post. Thoughts?

It comes down to what you want to drive. An 01 Focus or a shiny new Fusion with a shiny new car payment. You can fix everything that is wrong with the Focus for way less than $15000. It sounds like the Focus was neglected for a better portion of it’s life, but it could probably be made into a reliable vehicle with 1-2 thousand in tlc. Keep in mind that brand new cars are not always trouble free either. Also brand new cars are poor investments. Thought of a used car that is 2-3 years old, that has a solid service history?

I have to agree with Xebadaih. You know as much or more about the car you have and the car you want along with how you personally feel about the two cars.

If you are asking from a strictly economic point of view, keep what you have, but that is not the whole story.

Just keep this one thing in mind. Problems with your current car will generally lower the sale price or will require fixing before the sale.

Good Luck. BTW buying a new car today can be a deal.

Much of your list of items in need or repair on the Focus are not biggies, but if you pay someone to do the work it will ad up. I’d probably clean the car up and sell it to young high school or college student. If they put some elbow grease and a few dollars into it the car could it will give them good service for a few more years.

I assume you can afford the Fusion without major stress on your finances. My take on it is you are ready for a new car. The deals now are terrific and may never get much better. The Fusion is building a solid reputation and with a stick shift it should be kind of fun and last for many years to come. Yes you will take a hit on depreciation, but someone has to take that hit on any new car. If you buy it then you know the maintenance history from day 1. If you keep it for 10 more years the depreciation is not a big factor in your decision. Just take a good test drive to be sure this the car you want, if you don’t like it and go to resell it that’s when you take a hit on depreciation.

I’ve bought many used cars over the years and mostly all was fine with them. In '03 I was looking toward retiring and wanted a car I knew would last and that I’d drive for at least 10 years and possibly as long as I’m still driving. The '03 Civic I got new now has just short of 90K miles and has been excellent. I keep it clean and waxed a few times a year and it still looks very good, 36 mpg overall. I plan on sticking to the plan and keeping it for a bunch more years and miles.