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I don't want to part with my 2005 Mazda3!

I love my 2005 Mazda3! I am torn between fixing it or getting a new car. It has 189000 miles on it. The AC is broke. The catalytic converter needs to be replaced and I think the Transmission might be going. My mechanic says nothing is wrong with the transmission but the car seems to hesitate going into 2 and sometimes 3rd gear. I’m just wondering, How many miles do these cars last? and does anyone know other reasons the car would be sluggish changing gears?

“How many miles do these cars last?”

Modern cars of virtually all makes will “last” for an almost infinite amount of time, depending on three factors:

If the body/chassis of a unitized structure–such as the one on your Mazda–suffers from extreme rust damage, it is not worth keeping, as it is no longer structurally sound and–thus is unsafe. Is there significant rust on the body and underbody?

If a vehicle has not been excellently maintained, it will not be worthwhile to do repairs after a certain point. That point depends on how the vehicle was driven, and how it was maintained. What can you tell us–specifically–about the car’s maintenance over the past 3 years and how it is driven?

The cost of repairs will eventually mount-up, even with excellent maintenance. What is your tolerance level for annual repair bills? And–perhaps even more important–do you expect your engine to start every morning, and do you expect the vehicle to operate with no breakdowns?

I can argue either side. However, the main issue is, can you afford another car without excess debt? Cars are not spouses. If you can afford another car, it may be time to move on. With 9 years, maybe 10, and 189,000 miles this one has paid for itself.

You might save money by doing the repairs. But, often when a car needs that many repairs, there are other things which will soon go wrong as well.

Even excess rust if you live in the Rust zone of the country, can render major repairs into a mistake.

On the other hand, if you can afford a new car, but love this one, be brave, and find a good mechanic, and take the risk. Have the car body examined for serious rust, and go for it.

If you can’t handle more debt, repair and keep driving.

If you get a new car, read this board until you know exactly what maintenance program you need to implement. For example, a high percentage of people do not properly maintain the automatic transmissions. And, the coolant system… And, the brake system…

Also, search here. Many of the mechanics here insist that many diagnoses of bad cats are amazingly solved by replacing the oxygen sensors. Some mechanics simply replace the most expensive part, which in this case is the cat, then recommend, “While we are at it, might as well start with new sensors.” Heh, heh.

Great answers so far. @kikimarie…I would suggest that you take your Mazda 3 to another independent mechanic for a second opinion. A second opinion is sometimes worth it’s weight in gold.

A car lasts as long as you make it last. So now’s the time to decide whether or not to make it last.

What - in particular - is the maintenance history of the transmission? Lots of things can make a transmission shift funny that aren’t in the transmission, btw.

I’m also wondering how the bad converter diagnosis was made.

Do you have any estimates for doing ant of the needed work?

Think about it from the worst case perspective. Pencil it out. Say you need to have the transmission rebuilt – you probably will have to do this in the not too distant future – and the AC repaired, and a new cat. None of those repairs are unexpected on even the most reliable cars as they close in on 200K. Otherwise you have a good car, and only 9 years old. To me a 9 year old car w/200K on it is better than a 19 year old car w/100K on it. So you’ve got that new-ness thing working for you.

So get some estimates, see what the total bill will be. Then add 25% to that total, for things that haven’t yet cropped up. Then compare that to the cost of buying a replacement car. I’d say if the total cost to repair your Mazda was less than a year’s worth of payments and higher insurance payments on a new car, it would make sense $$-wise to fix up the Mazda.

Here’s a possible scenario . . .

The “broke AC” is simply low charge, due to a leaking hose and/or compressor

The cat is in fact okay. It’s possible the upstream oxygen sensor has gotten sluggish, to the point that the P0420 cat code is generated

As for the transmission, I don’t really have an opinion on what it will need

I suspect the transmission fluid and filter have never been serviced. And if they have, they probably weren’t serviced every 30K . . .

Please correct me if I’m wrong about the transmission

I doubt the cat needs to be replaced. More likely the oxygen sensors need to be replaced, as db4690 said. Do NOT replace the cat until you first replace both oxygen sensors, which will likely make that code go away.

The responses are all excellent IMHO. One additional consideration I’d like to add it your tolerance for a breakdown. If your wife or daughter drives the vehicle and could breakdown in an undesirable area (read: high crime) late at night on the way home from work, bulletproof reliability might be far more important to you than it is to me. Where I drive, if I break down I can just call AAA and safely listen to the radio while waiting. If I drove by Liberty City or Harlem or South Chicago every day I might be more concerned. If my daughter or wife (if I had a wife and she was better than my last one) had to drive by one of these areas every day, I’d definitely want something with bulletproof reliability. And probably bulletproof glass.