Is it time to get rid of this car


#1

My elderly mom’s car, a late-model (93, 94? - with LOW miles, <30k) Ford Tempo, is dying. Unfortunately I don’t live near her, so I can’t do any of the work myself. But it sounds like there’s some electrical problem that’s draining the battery when the car sits.

She just got a second brand new battery, because the first new battery died after a few weeks. I don’t know how much this repair would cost for diagnosis and parts, but I have to imagine her not-bottom-dollar mechanic wouldn’t let her out of the garage for less than 3-400.



Compounding this with the fact that he just made it ‘road worthy’ for $700 in brakes and something in the steering/front suspension (I didn’t read the receipt).



She drives the car about 2 miles a week, on the weeks she drives… up the street to the senior center, and 2 blocks to the grocery store.



So the thought is do we take the car away now? I feel like for the few hundred dollars THIS repair will cost, she could buy cab fare, but my brother rightly counters that maybe driving is one of the few activities keeping her mind sharp, and giving her a sense of freedom.



What do you guys think?








#2

Unless your mom is a danger to herself or others while she’s behind the wheel then she should probably decide when it’s time to give up the car. If this car starts costing her more money than she wants to spend on it she may decide on her own that taking a cab makes more sense for her. The car is 13 or 14 years old so even with the low mileage I would think some repairs along the way would be needed.


#3

" Unless your mom is a danger to herself or others while she’s behind the wheel then she should probably decide when it’s time to give up the car. If this car starts costing her more money than she wants to spend on it she may decide on her own that taking a cab makes more sense for her. The car is 13 or 14 years old so even with the low mileage I would think some repairs along the way would be needed."

I could not think of a why to say it any better!


#4

I’m having a really hard time understanding your post. From what I read, 1) her driving skills are fine, and 2) she’s not asking you to pay for repairs. Please explain why you think you have the right and/or option to “take the car away”.


#5

Fair enough, I suppose I’m mixing up two points here.

  1. 15 year old car, needing more and more repairs, is it time to junk it?

  2. (which I didn’t mention) For ME to observe, my mother is the type who drives everywhere at 20-35 MPH. Now because she’s only driving up and down 2 or 3 suburban roads, it’s probably ok. From my point of view, it’s scary to think she’s on the road (we all worry about our parents when they are old, right?). I know there are other senior drivers who are far worse…

So I guess I was thinking to use this event (putting even more money into the car) as a convenient push to get her off the street.


#6

Well, if she’s only driving up and down suburban streets then 20 to 35 MPH sounds perfectly appropriate. Have you ridden with her? I always made it a point to ride with my mother once or twice a year about the last 10 years she was driving. I was watching to see how she was doing as a driver and never really felt she got to the dangerous point before she decided for herself to give up her car. As for the car repair. I’m guessing she has a bad alternator if the batteries are going bad that quickly. That’s a pure guess, but seems like a prime suspect.

By the way, would it be possible for your mother to use one of those golf carts to get around in? They are popular in sunny climes with lots of retirees. It probably wouldn’t work in Duluth or many other places, but some small towns and such do allow their use.


#7

It’s always time to get rid of a Tempo, the bad gas mileage alone… Try changing the alternator, sometimes they drain the battery by having a small short circuit. Your (I cant see the orig. post while writing mine) senior family member may like the way the old bomb runs without all the fancy updates. The only thing I liked about my 87 was that when you were in drive on the highway, it damn well stayed in drive and wasn’t hunting between gears like a Caravan.


#8

Tell her to drive more often too. At least twelve miles a week.


#9

There are people riding bikes and walking on those suburban roads. What happens if she kills a child? I’m not suggesting that she will, but if her driving skills are diminished, it is more likely. Go for a spin to the groacery store with her and see how she fares. If you think that she should give up driving, discuss it with her. Don’t demand it - did that work with you when she stomped her foot?