Is it time to sell the car?

#1

I have a 1997 VW Golf, 5 speed manual, very well maintained, 56400 miles. Over time it has a new battery, new clutch, new starter, new brakes, michelin tires, new timing chain. Last week I put $1000 into it fixing squeaking gears. 2 days later the engine light comes on. Now I need a new air flow pump; parts & labor approx. $800+ tax. Is it time to let this fix and repair baby go? My fear is that I am just pouring money into it at this point. Blue book says car is worth $4000 if in mint condition.

#2

There is a statistical distribution that expalains why auto several auto repairs may occur at the same time and then there will be a long stretch of time without repairs. My own experience confirms this.

In your case, the battery, brakes and tires are normal maintenance. Depending on your driving conditions and habits, the clutch may fall into this category.

If the body on your car is sound, i.e. not rusted, and the engine is not consuming oil, you probably have a lot of service left in the car. With the few miles you have driven in 12 years, you are obviously not on the highway a lot. If the car meets your needs, then you should probably repair it. A new car will cost you more than $800.

#3

Except for the sqeaking gears and the air flow pump everything is normal wear. Since it’s 11 years old with only 56.4K it’s clearly spent most of its life doing short trip and/or urban driving, and that would account for the starter and clutch at what at first glance would seem like low mileage.

I’d keep it.

#4

Ah, mortality curves! MTBFs! Spoken like a true reliability engineer!

I posted this 5 mintes ago and it disappeared. What is WITH this forum lately?

#5

Thank you for this advice. My fear is that due to its age, the car’s going to continue to be a money pit for me. The mechanic thought it had about 5 years of life left in it, and he still does. But my pocketbook is hurting.

#6

Hey, thanks for your advice. Part of me wants to keep it, I’m just afraid of it becoming a money pit at this point. And yes you’re right, it is an urban car with occasional longer trips.

#7

One other consideration is how you feel about the car. You say your mechanic suggests that it should go 5 more years. Do you want to drive it 5 more years?
If you have the means, sometimes it is just nice to get something new. Ever;y five or six years, I treat myself to a new toothbrush whether I need one or not.

We once purchased a new Ford Tempo. After three years, my wife finally said, “Do we really have to drive this car into the ground?” We traded it for a Taurus even though the Tempo had many years of service left and I don’t regret the decision.

#8

I’d love a new car sure, but I can’t really afford car payments right now.
This car was given to me as a gift about 5 years ago from a friend who died. Free Car. I don’t NEED the car, I live in Brooklyn and have plenty of public transportation. That also accounts for the low mileage. I drive it to work once a week on Sundays when it is free parking in Manhattan. I’m an artist and don’t have lots of money but this car suits my needs, it carries lots of stuff including my largest work around and I love tossing the dog in the back and going upstate for a walk in the woods. It is more of a “luxury” you know what I mean?

#9

Battery, brakes, and tires are OK for 56,4000 miles. Starter, clutch, air pump, etc, are not.

I wouldn’t put another nickel in this car. VWs of this vintage have horrible reputations for reliability. Bail out now.

#10

Keep the car if you cannot afford payments. A new car means less likelyhood of issues but no guarantee once the warranty passes.

Even spending $1500-2000/year on repairs is far cheaper than payments + (maintenance).

#11

I’ve owned a loy of vw’s of that vintage. They were all maintained and they all became money pits. I no longer drive VW’s.

#12

I have had far different experiences with mine. I would suggest that while the manufacturer and maintenance make a difference, luck is really the big factor.