Decision time!

As you all know (ad nauseum), I’ve been eyeballing the 2009 Toyota Yaris liftback, but am notoriously cheap and wanted to hang onto my 2000 Suzuki Swift hatchback as long as possible; it’s been a great car, gets 40 mpg, and has “only” 112,000 miles. Wrestling with this decision, I decided to bring it in for a once-over; asked them to check everything. The verdict: needs repair of loose heat shield (optional, but it rattles), new belts, new air filter, new fuel filter, and new LEFT FRONT AXLE (whazzup with that? although I did notice some knocking on sharp turns). Oh, and new wiper blades.

Obviously now I’m all in a dither as to whether to repair or buy the new car. Do I have to repair in order to sell it; can I sell it with left front axle about to go?

If I do that, I’ll figure I might as well keep it and hope to get another year out of it. The upside: it could go for miles.

Downside: I have no AAA, no boyfriend to call, spotty cell phone service where I go (which is why I figured AAA was useless), and commute long distances on remote roads. Oh, and my passenger side door doesn’t lock, so I’m a sitting duck…

Do I run right out and buy that Yaris, then try to unload the Swift (with or without full disclosure)? Or fix it and keep going on a wing and a prayer???

Thanks in advance for your expertise…

Oops… My main question… IF the left front axle is going, is that a dire sign? Does it mean the natural lifespan of this car (which, while a good car, isn’t an old Toyota and has no “200,000 mile club” named after it) is coming to an end and only more and more repairs are in store from this point forward? Why would ONE axle go and not the other three, or am I on borrowed time until that happens or something even worse (timing chain, catalytic converter, transmission, etc.)?

I can’t work on cars myself and, as I say, have no man at hand; your recommendation?

For goodness sakes! An honest mechanic examined your car! Some mechanics, especially dealerships’, would have found MANY thing wrong with your car. You’re asking for it when you say, “Find anything wrong with it that you can”!
With your precarious financial position, it would be safest to repair Old Bessie. It only needs a little repair…about one, or two, installment payments’ worth of a new car.
The axle isn’t going to fail for weeks, or longer. A single axle failure is routine. They usually fail because a boot splits and dirt gets into the axle joint.
In summary, keep Old Bessie.

ADDED: Your engine has a timing belt which should be changed before the car reaches 100,000 miles. This is STILL normal routine scheduled (by mileage) maintenance…NOT, unusual maintenance requirements.

* loose heat shield (optional, but it rattles),

This one is just the noise, it has no effect on the car. You might be able to take care if it yourself. Maybe rip it off, or use a clamp to tighten it down. In any case it should be cheap to have done. If it is not, fine a different mechanic. Note: dealers are not better than independent mechanics, but they are almost always more expensive.

* new belts, new air filter, new fuel filter and new wiper blades.

These are not repairs, these are maintenance items, like buying fuel.

new LEFT FRONT AXLE (whazzup with that? although I did notice some knocking on sharp turns).

That is a bad CV joint. At 112,000 it did well. It is usually better to replace the axle than just the joint because the labor cost involved and the little difference in part cost. I would tend to consider this at 112,000 miles maintenance and not a repair.

Get the work listed done.  The cost will likely be far less than a few months car payments on that Yaris.  You should be able to get another 112,000 miles on it with little more in repairs and maintenance. 

Find out how much it will be to fix that passenger door lock.  If you can afford a new car, you certainly can afford a lock repair.  Depending on what the problem is, you should try a locksmith first, they will be cheaper and do as good or better job than a mechanic. 

If you don't have one get a cell phone and keep it in the car.  A pre-paid phone in the car is cheap and great to have in an emergency.

Repair it. It will cost far less than buying a new car. The heat shield repair will likely cost less if done at the same time the axle is replaced.

Get a 2nd opinion on the front axle and repair estimate.

The other items don’t need to be to revealed unless buyers asks.

Your swift barely has miles on it and will last longer if taken care of over its life. Not sure if a Yaris is much nicer (rented one in Europe 2 years back and okay but very small car) but what is your goal in the change?

Well, I’ll disagree. Did I miss the precarious financial situation? You have a nine year old car, know nothing about cars, commute on desolate roads, have spotty cell phone coverage, and no one to help. Buy a new car for heavens sake. What are you waiting for. This is the best time in years to buy a new car. Just trade the old one in and be done with it.

All of the items listed are just maintenance items exept the axel and shield but I think you really need something that you don’e need to be concerned with much. Time to move on. Don’t know about a Yaris though-wouldn’t be my choice.

Buy the Yaris. Think forward. It will cost you less in the long run.

I bought the 2007 liftback and the only maintenance I’ve needed is an oil change, which I do every six months.

Sell the old car as is. Let the buyer know what he/she is buying. Don’t expect to get a lot of money for it.

I’m not sure where people are getting “precarious financial situation”; I have a chunk-o-change sitting in the bank and would be paying cash… It’s just that I don’t want to do so prematurely and would like to get all I can out of this one.

However, it’d be one thing if I just drove around town here, where I could easily get help if something went wrong… The fact that I’m alone on remote roads with spotty cell service (and not even anyone I could rely on to come rescue me) puts a whole new face on the situation. Whereas if it were all local driving, I’d drive this one into the ground, I really can’t afford to take chances on long commutes.

Am looking at repairing not only the left front, but (having talked to my mechanic who, yes, IS very honest!!!), but also the right; he says it’s usually just a matter of time before the other old one goes after putting on ONE new one; kaching!

I’m leaning toward buying new; maybe keeping the old one for around-town mileage…