How much more money would you put in?

Hi, all. I’ve got a 1993 Subaru Legacy L with 108K mi, have had it for the last 35K (since 2000). It’s had more problems than I’d expected – so far I’ve replaced the alternator, harmonic balancer, and a CV boot, and for the last 6-8 months I’ve had recurring problems with starting. I’ll have a few days of difficult starts, and then one day it won’t start; if I keep trying, I get click click click. Tow it to the garage, and it starts again, like magic. The mechanic says the battery looks fine and the voltages are all right; he suspects the starter but wants to wait until he can actually see it not start to replace.

Right now it’s on its way to non-starting episode #4, and that wobble (whum-whum-whum-whum-whum-whum-whum) is back in the engine.

I’m a single mother, I don’t have much dough, nearly all the driving is in-town (my town’s about 5 mi across), and frankly if it weren’t for the fact that my kid’s so short, I probably wouldn’t bother with cars at all. A new car is probably out of the question for the next year or so. In general, mechanics have said the car looks good for another 100K mi. I’d say I’m putting about $500/yr in for repairs. Would you keep spending the money, or would you buy an unknown-quantity used car in the $5K range?

Thanks for your advice.

All cars cost money to run including brand new ones. $500/year while it may seem a high expense to you is far cheaper than outlaying $5k for another car. A $5k car will in itself also likely cost $500/yr too in random & surprise repairs. Your vehicle is pretty old so those repairs are not out of the ordinary and some listed are simple wear items. Your vehicle is old but given your limited miles I see it lasting a while longer with regular care and feeding.

Unfortunately automobiles are not items you buy and then don’t put any money into.

I would suggest first that Andrew is right. It will be cheapest to keep what you have.

As for the starting problem, I would suggest starting by removing both ends of the battery cables (both of them) and cleaning both the cable and where it goes very well and reattaching making sure they are secure.

I think the average amount spend on auto repairs over a year is about $800, so at $500, you’re doing quite well. Add in the fact that you drive a 15 year old car, and I’d say you’re golden - you’d be silly to get rid of it. I say keep repairing it for quite a time longer.

Thanks, guys. I just wasn’t sure if it made sense to keep putting money into such an old machine. You’re right, though, they all cost. Well, with any luck, this’ll be the last one for me. There’s a bus stop on the corner, bikes in the garage, taxis/rentals/planes for unusual trips. Most everything we use regularly is within walk/bike/bus distance, and I telecommute. Hats off to the city planners (it’s a smallish town, about 60K people).

Which guarantees my daughter will be all about cars. :slight_smile: Actually, though, it’s interesting, I figured out that even though my car’s old and paid, insurance is low (<$500/yr), and the mileage is reasonable, given how little we use the car, it’d still be cheaper to use bus/taxi.

Americans spend about $1100 per year on maintenance, repairs and tires. That’s the average for good and bad cars, of all ages. So $500 to spend is not excessive to get your car in shape, especially an All Wheel Drive model.