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How long until I'll have to buy a new car?

I have a Saturn 2006 that my mom gave me, which works fairly well. The wire harness went bad recently, so that was replaced and now the brakes work fine. But whenever I start the car it kind of “stutters,” and I’m starting to wonder if it’s just going to die soon. It has 176,000 miles on it. I don’t know what that issue is, but it will be $50 to diagnose and then more up from there. At least that’s what first estimate said.

How much would a good used car cost? And is there a cheaper way to figure out the current issue with my car when I turn the ignition?

Does vue have V6 or 4 cyl motor?

Definitely better to find out what is wrong with your car first. A new/used car will cost you big bucks, whereas it may only cost a few hundred dollars to repair the Saturn.

Does the “stutter” go away when it is warmed up? Is the check engine light on? what are the codes? When is the last time you had the plugs and wires changed?

That question can answered by the classified ads in print, web sites or even leaving the house to look at dealer selections, 50 dollar diagnostic fee is a bargain and will help you decide what to do.

How high is up?

In other words, that question cannot be given a good answer without knowing your budget, and your definition for “good”.

As to the Saturn, nobody can give you a reliable diagnosis via cyberspace.
If you answer a few questions, we can give you some possible problem areas, but only a mechanic who can do a hands-on examination of the car could tell you the exact cause of the current problem, and give an estimate of the vehicle’s lifespan.

Is the Check Engine Light lit up?
If so, is it lit-up steadily, or is it flashing/blinking?
Has the engine been maintained at least as well as is specified in the GM maintenance schedule?
(Hint: Maintenance involves a lot more than just oil changes :wink:)

Depends on what you want to buy. Search by price or car model. That should give you an idea. Any decent used car will cost $3000 and up. Decent transportation, not reliable, not nice, not low mileage… just decent.

That is very cheap. Diagnosis around where I live is about $100. As far as cars go, this is cheap money. Remember I said any decent used car will cost you $3000 and up? That kind of money can repair a lot of things wrong with your car.

176,000 is a lot of miles BUT, if you check your oil level every time you gas up (adding oil as needed), do regular oil changes, fix things as they go wrong BEFORE they cause more expensive repairs, then you may have many more miles before you need to replace this car.

The stutter goes away after it’s warmed up. No other lights on.

But how many repairs means it’s time to get a new car?

This may sound rude but your personal tolerance is the key to repair or replace. Spend that 50.00 and have actual opinions on the problems. Also if you have the manual look and see what maintenance items might be due or even past due. Any used vehicle is a gamble and could be fine or not.


Which light is “on”?

Sorry, no lights on.

But I’ll never pay more for repairs than I would have to replace a car? Or at least not with the one I have?

My fear is the startup ‘stutter’ means the engine is dying.

Ask yourself if you’d rather spend $50 to find out, or $10000 for a new (used) car ?

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Honda v6? Good motor. 4cyl motor? Not so good.

176K? Saturn Vue? hmmm … If the engine stutter goes away after a few minutes, and the car works fine after that, I think I’d adopt the strategy of just keep on driving it, keep up the routine maintenance on things like oil and filter changes, brake pads, until it breaks to the point it is no longer drivable, then sell it to the local salvage yard. I’d especially lean doing it that way if this car is equipped with an automatic transmission unless the transmission has been trouble-free & serviced with a pan drop, filter replacement, and new fluid every 30-60 K.

If you wanted to try something to fix the stutter, start with a basic tune up, which on your car is probably just a spark plug replacement.

Just to spout off, here’s the thing, while it is generally cheaper to keep a car going for a longer period of time, at some point everyone has to buy a different car. Some buy sooner than others, but repairing a car is only delaying the inevitable need to replace it at some point. So outside of the personal considerations like comfort, looks, dependability, there is the cost and obsolescence to consider. If you pay for a repair, you should just expect to be able to drive the car X number of miles to get the cost per mile of that particular repair down to a reasonable level. For example, If you put a set of tires on for $600, you should at least expect to get 20 or 30,000 miles out of them to get part of your money back. If not, why do it? If you put a $3000 transmission in, you’d better hope to get at least another 50,000 miles out of it.

At any rate I like to look at the average cost per year of anything, and compare that to the average lifetime cost per year of something newer. Whether lawn mowers, refrigerators, washers, etc. they all will need to be replaced at some point in the future so it may be meaningless from an average cost per year standpoint to “try to get another year out of it”. Then you’ve got the whole obsolescence problem with crush zones, air bags, electronics, parts availability and so on, that might make keeping an old car, even if no problems, undesirable. Easy for me to spend someone else’s money, but I’ve kept cars going for half a million miles when I should have dumped them at 300,000.

Good advice to a point.

My daughter has a Saturn Aura.

2 years ago she had some body work done.

Mechanic told her she was lucky that he was able to find parts for it.

He recommended that she sell it.

They have no been made in over 7 years.

The diagnostic tool said that Cylinders 1,4, and 6 were misfiring, so I assume a V6?

You are probably right. Often the engine number is written on a sticker on the underside of the hood, as part of the emissions and tune-up info. Post the engine number from that sticker, then folks here could narrow down the engine configuration.