Did my mom secretly hit a curb really hard?

My husband bought my mom a used car from a private owner last year. It’s a 1998 Ford Taurus, was in good condition, with receipts for oil changes over the years, only 95k miles on it. (was owned by an older couple that maintained it). We’ve already had to replace a water pump for her last year, and now she has a new list of repairs that suddenly cropped up:

-she said power steering went out
-steering column seals
-right front tensioner
-left tire arm
-replace 2 front tires
-power steering pump and pulley

Wouldn’t all these issues have been prevalent last fall when the mechanics fixed her water pump? Do these sound like someone (like maybe my brother…) hit something?

She apparently has found a few estimates all over $1,000 (which she doesn’t have). And is pussyfooting around acting like she doesn’t expect us to ‘fix’ her problems again because she cannot save money. We will pay for it if they are legitimate problems that could not have been prevented in the year that she has owned it.

Any input would be helpful.


@cdaquila - I’m flagging this because of the links at the bottom.

I agree with texases about flagging this. There’s more than a few red flags on this post. If it’s legit then remove the names, links, mention of Twitter and FB, and change the ID which I seem to remember as the nom de plume of some old porn star back in the day.

Not to mention a measly grand for all of that and I have no idea what steering column seals and a right front tensioner is.

I didn’t read the links provided per Texases’s caution, but it does sort of sound like there’s been some abnormal wear and tear on the front suspension and steering. But it is also possible this is normal wear and tear, the steering pump went kaput for some reason, the front tires wore thin, etc etc and since a piece of the front suspension needs to be replaced, it would be normal to perform an alignment after replacing that part. I’m not quite sure what the “right front tensioner” you refer to is. If it is a belt tensioner, those do need replacement from normal wear from time to time.

My suggestion is to give your mom/brother the benefit of the doubt and consider it just a normal periodic repair. Not unexpected on a 98 with close to 100k.

Good morning. I removed the links at your suggestion; thanks for pointing it out. Sorry I didn’t get to it sooner.

I Don’t See Anything That Points To Hitting A Curb Or Any Abuse.

It makes sense to me, but the following items need better descriptions to determine what’s needed.

“steering column seals”
“right front tensioner”
“left tire arm”

Perhaps a second opinion/estimate would be in order.


LOL, Ok4450, so you know what a “tire arm” is? Must be from the Michelin Man.

Samantha, in all seriousness, the types of problems you’re listing (and some of them exhibit a lack of automotive knowledge leading to some misunderstandings) should all be expected on a '98. Cars get old. Things wear out and rubbery bits like seals dry up, shrink, and crack. Leaks in subassemblies like power steering rams and even brake components (anything with pressurized fluids) should be expected.

I’m going to attribute the links that needed to be removed (which I admittedly did not see) as being due to youth and having grown up with social media. Looking beyond that, I commend your concern about your mom. But there really isn’t any problem here beyond lack of understanding and unrealistic expectations about the car.

The $1000 is a big red flag for me. I will assume that some of the “needed items” are simply misinterpretations of what the mechanic actually said, unless they were written down, If written down by the mechanic, then avoid this garage completely in the future.

My mother would cut coupons from the paper for cheap oil changes and such and every time, the mechanic would find a $1000 worth of “needed work”, often calling them safety items. In all but one case, these were bogus. But it was alway $1000.

We have a local auto chain here that always seems to find $500 or so worth of work, usually with female clients. In fact, I have a standing bet with any of my wife’s friends that if they take their cars there for a minor item they will be presented with $500 worth of “urgently needed” work.

The figure was probably calculated on what would be OK with most credit cards and also not scare the owner away to seek a second opinion.

I always tell them to ignore this scare and seek a second opinion.

If you had to buy mom a new “used car” because she could not afford to buy one herself, she cannot afford to repair it either… Back when our mom and dad bought their children cars, they accepted the repair too and took over the responsibility what the kids could not handle themselves. The roles have been reversed.

She may be taken advantage of. When my wife’s mother was living alone, I took over the responsibility of maintaining her car…she could not afford it on her own and she could easily be taken advantage of if we just handed her money for repairs. It is a choice you make and feel you should NOT work through her.

Your husband bought the car, so he now " owns it" as far as maintenance is concerned. If you can’t handle that responsibility, don’t buy the car in the first place. If you can, it is yours to take for service where you take your own then return it to your mother. I advise you don’t now " work through us", but take over the role of car maintence on her car and find out the legit repairs yourself, and pay for it. Assume the regular maintence by mileage as well.

As CSA said, a second opinion is in order. It is now YOUR mechanic and your responsibility. You will actually save money in the long run when you become active and in control of the car’s maintenance.

I agree that a 1998 car could need these repairs. You did not say what the mileage is, but it is likely well over 100,000. If that is the case, they are actually maintenance for a well used car. Take it to at least 3 shops for estimates. Don’t tell them what the original estimate is, just tell them some of the symptoms and let them come back to you with a list of what needs to be fixed and how much it will cost.

Anyone with a 17 year old car should budget $100/month for upkeep. This is still pretty cheap transportation.

The car is 17 years old and I would suspect that some diligence would find other problems also.

Many people motor along in a car that on the surface seems to run and drive fine. Underneath the surface it may be a different story.
Seventeen year old grease in suspension components and wheel bearings, possibly 17 year old ATF and hydraulic fluids, 17 year old seals from bow to stern, etc, etc.

Well punk, ok the clint eastwood thing is not going to work. Either she is fit to drive or she is not. If she is many people have stuff happen, and you get it fixed, if she is not fit to drive don’t wait until you regret not taking away the keys.