Bad suspension, great grandma car

I have a 1995 Buick regal. It was handed down to me from my brother in law, whose grandmother owned it before him. Although the car is older than my students, she only has 126,000 miles on her (mostly highway) and I’m assured by my mechanic that her engine is in excellent shape.

However, because of long exposure to upstate NY weather, a lot of the undercarriage has rusted, and my mechanic warns me it’s not worth doing any major work. I’ve paid for regular maintenance here and there (brake lines, spark plugs, etc) but she’s never given me any big problems.

I’m a grad student and just need the car to last one more year, but lately the suspension seems pretty worn out - more than usual. She bounces a lot on older stretches of highway.

I only drive the car on the highway once a month or so (to visit my sister two hours away), and a few times in the city for errands.

Do I need to get the suspension checked out? I have a mechanic I trust, but because of the rust situation, any kind of work tends to be difficult and more expensive than it otherwise would be, so… I’m worried about what they’ll say. Am I being stupid to not check this out sooner, or can I wait and see what they say at my inspection in a few months?

Yes, get this checked out! It could be worn struts but it could be far worse. Not knowing is dumb, knowledge is power. You can’t make an intelligent decision about what to do in the dark.


What he said. You’ll have to pay to have a good mechanic evaluate the suspension, then come back and we can help you separate the must do items from the others.

+1 to the previous replies.
A worn out suspension is not just a comfort issue, and is actually a safety hazard.
When your tires are bouncing on the pavement (you can’t see this from the driver’s seat, but on a rough road it IS happening) you have significantly reduced traction, and that can make a major difference in both stopping ability and the way that the car takes curves.

It is entirely possible you will be told that the amount of rust precludes something as simple as shock/strut replacement, but unless you have the situation evaluated by a competent mechanic, you will simply be guessing and you will be a hazard on the road to yourself and to other folks.

I agree with this. The car should be checked out now.

The bouncing is likely worn out front struts. I also agree about checking out the suspension but if there is nothing major with ball joints (the most serious parts failure) you might consider just replacing the front struts since another year is all that is being asked of the car.

While your mechanic is checking out your suspension, let him know your annual inspection is coming up, ask him if he thinks the car will pass, and if not how much will it cost to make it pass.

This car may not be worth putting anymore money in to it.

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Between the rusted frame you’ve been warned about and the high cost of strut replacement, I’d start shopping for your next car.

You want to survive that one more year of grad school, right?

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Some grandmas might not like that car. One of my grandmothers enjoyed nice cars and her last one was a 1964 SS Impala.

who’s the new guy in your avatar . . . ?

preacher . . . ?

rocker . . . ?

well, whoever he is, he seems happy :smiley:

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I’ll PM you.