Is my car worth repairing?

I own a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix, which has 138,000 miles. The Blue Book value is somewhere in the $2500-$3000 range. I don’t know how to determine if the car is worth putting in money for repairs and maintenance.
It needs body work ($500), and basic service (probably about $500). Then, of course, there will be the standard, ongoing maintenance- brakes, etc. My concern is that a number of items are no longer working correctly, and I’m afraid that this indicates a systemic or electrical problem. Three of my 4 electric windows have all broken down. I had the front driver’s window repaired, but it never has achieved its original power or ease of use. I had the 2 rear windows disabled.
Sometimes the interior lights are unreliable, although this is infrequent. The air conditioner, with 2 temp zones, died on one side. I had that repaired, but although it no longer blows hot air on one side, it just seem like room temp air comes out.
All this is complicated by the fact that I currently reside in Mexico. (The usual standards for finding a reliable mechanic do not apply here!) I have to “nationalize” the car in 3 months. This means driving it 900+ miles north to the US border. It will cost at least $1500 to go through this process.
So, all of this stuff adds up to the value of the car. HOWEVER, I hear on Car Talk that it is less expensive to maintain a car than to purchase a car. I have very limited resources, so I doubt that I can purchase a decent used car for $3500 dollars?? Is there a method or process I can use to assess its potential longevity?

Based on what you’ve written, in my opinion, it’s a good time to look for another car. It sounds like it’s already going to cost more than it’s worth to keep it running correctly.

Your “very limited resources” might get eaten up on trying to fix something that won’t be worth it in the long run. However, I don’t know what other options you have since your resources are limited. Maybe the other great minds here will have a good suggestion.

You may have a bad ground from engine to body. You can test this if you have jumper cables. Attach both the red ends to some metal on the engine and both black ends to a bolts on a fender or one of the three on the strut. Keep the cables away from the engine belts or anything that moves. It doesn’t matter which color ends go where, I attach both to keep them out of the way.

With the engine running, try the power window. If it works a lot better, you can look for the original ground cable which may be somewhere near the alternator and have the end on the body cleaned or scraped. You can also buy a short battery type cable and attach it in a safe place.

It’s simple and sometimes works.

There are other causes like dashboard grounds being loose. Some are located at the top of the carpet under the dash. Sometimes you don’t even have to move the carpet to see the wires. Sometimes it’s an alternator problem like worn out brushes.

Forget the body work. I guess you could try and find a competent mechanic to fix the AC and maybe at least 2 windows. Regular maintenance is nothing to junk a car for. But when you say it is going to cot $1500 to nationalize (whatever that is) the car, I think for that car with its age and broken components, that would be a waste of money. I say start saving for a replacement.

The mix door for the passenger needs a new motor. I am of the belief drive it till it dies. Car payments and insurance = more money than repairs unless it needs an engine or tranny and even those are cheap compared to $500 a month. Body repairs will add no value to this car. Keep it running and save up for when you do HAVE to replace it.

You are driving what is called here a “beater”. With those you only do what is necessary to keep them running safely. As other say, forget the body, and you only need two windows at most to be working.

Since you have limited funds, buying another cheap used car may also set you up for big repairs.

Car is worth 2500 now? Where? In Mexico? Sell it. Use the money to buy a “nationalized” car? I have no idea what that means. Does it have mex plates? Us plates? Mex title? US title? Body must be rust free though. Unless u bought it from NJ?

Thanks to all who commented on my car problems. I really appreciate the feedback!

If you are living in Mexico, you might want to purchase whatever the local mechanics are used to working on (assuming it is safe) and to see if any of your friends have one to sell when they move back to the States.

Here’s an extreme illustration of this advice: I was once stationed in the Azores, an isolated and rainy North Atlantic island. One of our nurses brought over a Porsche she had just bought. No one on the island could maintain it, the mildew ate up the leather interior, the local drivers dinged up the expensive bodywork, and the pot-holed roads soon had the car squeaking like a junior high clarinet player. She wound up with a worthless car and would have been much better off just buying an “island beater.”