Keep it or junk it?

Hi all,

I have a 1999 mercury sable with 160k miles that runs but needs $1700 of repairs (power steering pump, rack, rear strut assembly). Also it has some cosmetic damage (medium sized dent in the side, a couple other dings, and one of the sideview mirrors is JPwelded on, ha). It also seems to be developing some body rot issues, and the check engine light has been on for the past few years (I’ve gotten it looked at, but it always comes back). On the plus side, it is very reliable, has never stranded me or refused to start.

At first, I assumed it wasn’t worth it to fix it so I put the car on craigslist for $400 and got someone offering $370, he is supposed to pick it up on tuesday.

However, now I’m not too sure. I have been looking on craiglist for cars-- I have about $3000 that I can put toward getting a new car or replacing this one. I don’t really want to take on a car payment at the moment. Everything in my budget is just as much of a junker as my current car, and usually is more expensive than $1700. Plus, I keep running across late 90’s/early 2000 sables with similar mileage to mine being advertised for $2-3k by private sellers and $3-4k by dealers. Is this the actual resale price of my car if it were in working order? How much would the cosmetic damage subtract from the resale value?

any guidance much appreciated!!

So I’ve been looking through similar questions and it looks like the frame is a big issue so I wanted to go into a little more detail-- it has no cosmetic rust, but the other day, a friend got in the back seat and knocked one of the rocker panels off and underneath was just flakes of rust. It is nerve wracking to jack it up and change a tire because there is no non-corroded place on the frame to put a jack. I don’t know how far this extends beyond the outside edges of the car and I have no idea how to gauge whether its a major problem-- any pointers? (Or did I just give you enough information to say “GET RID OF THIS CAR NOW!,” no further examination needed?)

I would take the $370 and run. You have a 14 year old vehicle that is really only useful for parts. The corrosion on the chassis as you describe makes the car not road worthy.

there is no non-corroded place on the frame to put a jack

I think you may have hit on the answer, but it might give you peace of mind to have someone knowledgable judge if you really do have a serious rust problem. From your description, it sounds like you do, and if that’s accurate, then it’s time to sell this gem. If you are ambitious and able to do some disassembly, you might maximize your return by parting it out (selling parts) and then selling what’s left for scrap. But that might not be worth your effort, or beyond your skill or interest.

Another option is to find a similar car on Craigslist which has a blown engine, buy it and use your present car as a donor, though with 160k, what you have might not have much life left in it…depends a lot on how well it’s been maintained. This probably only makes sense if you can do the engine swap yourself, or know someone who can do it for you as a favor. Before you go that route, have someone do a compression test for you and if the numbers are low, then either part it out, or sell to the buyer you mentioned.

With rust and body damage, my inclination would be to not waste effort on this and look for something else. If you are in the rust belt (north east), maybe take a vacation in the south, find a nice rust free car there, and drive it home. Might be a memorable adventure.

So the fact that you accepted an offer on craigs list neabs nothing to you

I agree with Triedaq.
If you get in an accident with that car, the airbags won’t save you.
The car will fall apart around you and anyone riding with you.
Get a newer car and be happy that anyone offered to pay you for the car.
Frankly I would charge you to remove it. That’s how bad that Sable is.

Have fun with the new car. Once you get it you will fully realize how bad the Sable was.

I had about a dozen offers of over 300. In weight alone it’s probably worth $250. And the sable wasn’t bad to drive at all actually. I doubt I can get anything with more get-up-and-go left in it motor-wise within my price range.

but if the rust is that much of a danger sign, I’ll get rid of it.

Didn’t you accept the guy’s offer already?
You can’t back out on that, regardless.

Sell it for parts. If it was going to be a classic you could play Jay Leno and refurbish it. But this car will defintely not be a classic and take up valuale space in a car museum.

To refer to another post, the car has reached the end of its economic life.