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Help a waffler decide to keep or replace 12 year old car

Stop right now if you don’t want to read about a waffler trying to decide whether or not to buy a new car.

Me: been driving the same 2000 Nissan Maxima for 12.5 years. 95,000 miles. Nice 222hp v6 with 5-speed manual transmission that I enjoy.

While my Nissan has been a great car, its stranded me twice in the past 12 months. First a radiator failure and then an alternator failure. Moreover my wife refuses to drive the manual tranny (which occasionally comes up) and I promised that my next car would be an auto.

I now have two young children that I shuttle to daycare.

Now that the muffler is starting to fall off too, I decided to listen to my wife and go test drive a bunch of cars. Settling on an Acura TSX Sports Wagon (since SUVs seem sucky to drive), but I’m really concerned I’m just going to regret getting rid of my sporty and fun-to-drive Maxima in favor of a nice but probably less fun-to-drive Acura (with less horsepower). Yeah, I know. Spend more money and I can get a Wagon with a V6, etc.

I’m trying to convince myself that my car is getting old and may strand me again. That it doesn’t have side airbags or any kind of electronic stability control. And that I deserve an upgrade and have some cash sitting in the bank.

My frugal side is saying “drive the Maxima to the ground” and that this will be the last stick shift I’ll drive in a long time.

Thoughts for this waffler?

2 kids. The wife. You. All the gear.
I have a 2000 Dodge Grand Caravan. And a wife. And 3 kids. And 2 dogs.
It does fine when it needs to as far as getting up to speed when it’s needed.
I had a '90 Pontiac Transport. I LOVED it. Right up until it got t-boned.
Even then I hated to part with it. It got AWESOME mileage. 35 mpg highway. Yes that’s right.
Once in a while it did over 40. Yes, I calculated it correctly.
(GM got it right with these and never told anyone. So Sad.)

The newer vans look more like sport utes than some sport utes do.
Think practical. Think growing family. DON’T think life is over.
It’s NOT over. It’s just changing.

Have you considered a Subaru Outback? A Mazda 5 or CX5?
I bet they offer nearly the same features that the Acura does. For less.

As far as trade in goes, the Maxima won’t get you much.
Have your frugal side consider selling it as a “mechanics special” or donate it to a local high school or a charity.

If you need 2 cars, consider fixing it and driving it while your wife and kids get the new car with all of the new safety features. They deserve it.

A muffler is cheap. Have a mechanic you trust give the car a thorough inspection. Figure out the cost to fix these things and then make your decision from a fully informed viewpoint.

Our 2000 Olds Intrigue just hit 200k miles. Your 95k on the Maxima is nothing.

Good luck with whichever choice you make.

Keep it-Kevin

Dump the car with the manual… When wife decides she wants an auto, there is no turning back. Move on. You have two kids and responsibilities and the handling of a front drive plow horse isn’t that great regardless. Autos are safer if you ever have a limb injury and still have to transport the kids.

Dump. The manual. When wife decides she wants an auto, there is no turning back. Move on.

I have to agree.  Peace at home is the true path to a happy life.

Is the Maxima the only car in the family? If so, keep the Maxima and get another family car. You won’t get much for the Maxima on a trade, and it is perhaps one of the best cars out there for fun with the manual tranny. A 4 door sports car basically. If you trade it or sell it you’ll regret it immediately.

Sure it will have a few more problems, but that’s why you have a new car for the family and keep the Maxima for yourself.

Wife drives a 2008 Toyota RAV4 with 55,000 miles. I have a “first world problem”

Even though your wife drives the RAV, they are different cars with a different purpose. In child rearing, you have a shared responsibility and both cars enter into the mix. We found it advisable to have cars that both drivers felt comfortable and safe when using.

Families with children and two cars need both to be driver friendly to all drivers. Your health and that of your children are not always guaranteed. Get another like a RAV4 with the v6, awd and auto for you. It WILL handle better then the Maxima and give much better real life performance while satisfying both your family commitments and your driving enjoyment.

Heck, when my wife announced she no longer wanted to drive a manual and that an auto was much safer…I said " Fine, the family budget can now afford to trade my manual gear drive tractor for one with a hydrostat. It’s safer to operate for what we need done and in an emergency, you can operate it." It can work both ways…“oh, lets add the heated cab too. That’s safer as as well.”

First find out how bad your Maxima really is, take to your mechanic and spend a 100 or so and have them really check the car out. Come up with a list of everything that needs replacing or fixing. Really pay attention to the undercarriage, and don’t forget to check the clutch. After 10+ year you have to expect parts to start wearing out, a good check now might mean you only spend a few dollars and have a reliable car.

Second, be truthful to yourself, did you REALLY do all the maintenance that should have been done on time to the car? If not then you might not be able to bring the car up to snuff at a reasonable price.

Next find out what your Maxima is worth, you might find it’s not worth trading in, so you might keep it with liability insurance, and get wife a new car.

Lastly, how tired are you of the car, from the sounds of it, you like the car and IF the car can be made reliable and you like it, keep it. It sounds like your wife doesn’t drive it much, and yes I understand keeping a wife happy is good advice, but you have to be happy too.

Once you have all the information then decide, right now you really don’t know if the car is worth fixing, or if it can be fixed. If the car can’t be fixed then you get rid of it, if it can at what price? If it’s going to cost X to fix the car is it worth it? Lastly how unhappy will you be if you get rid of the car? Only you can answer that.

Agree; trade it in for an automatic. Regularly replacing items on an aging car is not for everyone. A new car with automaitic will give you peace of mind and family peace.

Dump it, no side airbags + kids is a bad combination. Add in the wife’s preference and the recent problems, 12 years is plenty long enough.

Horse power is nice to have, but you don’t need a lot of it to have fun; Mini Cooper is one example of this. It also isn’t the sum total of how fast a vehicle is, either; I have almost 250hp in my car, but it still takes almost 9 seconds to get to 60mph.
Your Maxima is rated 222hp/217tq, the TSX wagon is 201hp/170tq, not much of a drop, except in torque rating. Don 't know about your current Maxima, but the TSX will need to be fed with high octane fuel(91+)
As for a new car, a new Ford Fusion or Mazda 6 is slightly bigger than your old Maxima and will handle worlds better. Or, if you love your Maxima so much, get a newer one

Any chance of keeping the Maxima and having 2 cars in the family? I’m a firm believer in more than one car if at all possible.
Given the age of the Maxima it won’t be worth that much really even with the comparatively low miles it has and at some point it’s more beneficial to keep a car than essentially give it away as a trade.

You can put mama behind an auto trans and you can continue to bang gears.

I was in your position about 15 years ago. I had a series of cars with manual transmissions over 25 years. We decided that being able to share cars was important as the kids aged. I bought a family sedan with an auto trans and have been happy with that car and the next one (with auto). Sell, trade, or donate the Maxima. With 2 children, you can get a sedan if you like. An Infiniti G sedan would be a possibility, or the Acura wagon you like.

Thanks for the thoughts folks. Just what I needed! I’m leaning towards replacing. After all I could use a change in some life style aspects!!

I test drove both the Acura TSX Wagon and Acura RDX. Both were awesome in their own way. TSX had more usable cargo and was sportier, but RDX had more usable backseat room (for people and toys) and was more powerful (with AWD option).

I also test drove a Volvo XC70 and it too was awesome!

As you can see, I’m terrible about decisions…hence will probably be driving maxima for awhile just for that reason!

Yep trade. I’ve never been happier after getting rid of my Buick Riviera with 530,000 miles on it. Its no fun sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow-and a little dangerous too.

First you have to decide 2 things.

  1. how much will the new car I would buy cost per month.
  2. If I had roadside protection @ $65 per year can I live with breakdowns, and lost time.

If you cannot tolerate any lost time go for 1.
If you can afford lost time you need to have your car appraised, and if there are no imminent major buck failures keep it. If you feel probable maintenance and repairs are less than monthly payments for a new car try it. note I did not include lease because if you lease you are pretty much committed for life to a car payment, though if you are not adverse it might be a viable alternative.

I suggest that you test drive a Cadillac ATS sedan. As long as you are looking at a new car, give this one a drive. This is no knock on the Acuras. I have a Honda and it’s been great for me. It’s an excellent driver’s car.

The Maxima may have more horses but I doubt if they still have the power they used to have, nevertheless my vote is for you to keep the Maxima AND get a new car.

The trade-in value is probably low and the sentimental value is certainly high, just keep it.

Every time someone mentions the age of their car as a reason for getting rid of it, I think about all of those 1950s cars in Cuba, then I think about all of the ‘vintage’ and ‘classic’ cars all over the US that people actually spend money just to look at.

12+ years is a real relationship, maintain the car and your problems will be infrequent, if you can afford to keep her do so.

If you’re wanting an upscale vehicle, keep in mind that they will come with a higher maintenance and repair cost, doubly so for any Euro brand(like Volvo). If you can afford it, good, but if you’re going from paycheck to paycheck, it would be better to look at a Ford or Hyundai instead of Acura or Volvo.

More suggestions:
Hyundai Sante Fe
Lexus RX 350
Ford Explorer
Ford Escape
Mazda CX-9
Hyundai Tuscon
Hyundai Genesis sedan
Hyundai Azera
Ford Fusion
Mazda 6
Toyota Camry
Toyota Venza
Toyota Rav4
Lincoln MKZ/X/T/S
BMW X3/5/6