How do I know it's time to move on?

Should I get the repairs or move on to a new car?

I’ve got a '97 Saturn SL2 with 310K on it; the majority of the miles are highway. I bought this puppy new. Right now I’m driving ~225 miles a day, 3-5 days a week.

Other than drinking oil (1-2 qts / week), its been a gem. Starts every time, milage is pretty good (~30 mpg), dependable. I’ve only had to replace the water pump, battery, tires, and, last month, the catalytic converter. It’s continues to pass Pennsylvania vehicle inspections.

Last week my check engine light came on and gave me 5 codes:

P463 - Fuel Level Sensor Circuit High Input

P0420 - Catalytic System Efficiency Below Threshold

P856 - Traction COntrol Input Signal

P1555 - Electrical Variable COntrol Orifice Fault (Saturn)

P1599 - Engine Stall Detected or near Stall Detected

Is it worth fixing? Or, is it time to move on to a new car?

I’m driving in some traffic now (Washington DC) and the manual transmission (original one!) is no longer as much fun as it used to be.

I have to admit, though, I’ve derived great pleasure in getting my money’s worth from this poor thing (not to mention enjoying the looks on people’s faces when I tell them how many miles are on my car). Two years ago I caught a deer in the windshield (hit by another vehicle and thrown into mine), and the insurance company wanted to total it. I talked them into fixing the safety problems (windshield, side mirror, etc.) and leaving the dents/scrapes.

Am I pushing my luck? Should I squeeze some more out of this car, or is it time to move on?

What say you?

It’s very unlikely that all of those were just spontaneously triggered. I’d guess most of them were stored in the computer from little temporary problems over the years. If you’re using a code reader that can erase the codes, I’d do that and then read it again in a little bit and see which ones come back-- these will be your current issues. If your code reader doesn’t do this, the alternative method is to disconnect the negative battery cable for a little bit to wipe the memory. Re-read the codes and post what you find here!

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. Fixing an old car is always cheaper than buying a new one, even if the new one is used.

  2. This car has given you its money’s worth.

I vote for #2. If you were serious about keeping this car for ever, I don’t think you would allow it to decline as you have. The presence of body damage says to me that you have let this car slip into “heap” status.

I’d say it’s time to pat yourself on the back and move on. That is unless Saturn wants to pay you to put you in an advertisement.

That’s a lot of miles for a Saturn; agree with posters that it is time to say goodbye.

Too many miles but it was a good car.

Maybe you need a new car. Well, not new, but a couple of years old. Get a lot of the depreciation out of it since you drive so many miles. Find something 2 to 4 years old, low mileage, that you can use for your commuter.

Dude, do you live in West Virginia? That’s a long way to go (112 miles) to avoid high real estate prices.

BTW, what do you want in your new car? We specialize in the vicarious thrills of helping choose other people’s rides!

I get the feeling that you have avoided performing any of the scheduled maintenance, besides oil changes. Unscheduled maintenance is a bit difference than repairs which are performed just to keep the car on the road.
I vote for, “The TLC is gone. Let her go”.

For me, I decided to move on when maintenance was not enough and more and more major repairs became too frequent. All cars eventually get to this point, even those that are well cared for. Things just wear out. If you feel that this car will be in the shop more and more and the expenses get close to what a new car payment will be, then get a new car. If you feel that this car is doing pretty good, then keep it.