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Keep my old Rodeo?

I am having a tough time deciding if I should keep my 2001 Isuzu Rodeo with 202,000 miles (2WD, 6 cylinder, automatic). Body is in decent shape as is the interior; paint is showing the wear of not have a garage its entire life; has new tires and serpentine belt; needs new AC and timing belt ($1000-1300 repair bill?); as of late I only drive about 13,000 miles/year.

My 2 concerns: 1) the car may be getting a bit unsafe with the probability of breaking down on the side of the road (has happened twice in last 6 months); 2) I can only afford to spend about $250/month on a car payment and because of my job I need at least a small SUV.

How do I know when its time to call it quits on my Rodeo (I love the car)? I have scoured the internet for answers to this question without much luck or clarity.

If it is time to part, have any suggestions in terms of leasing, buying new (0% now at Ford, etc…), or used from dealer or individual?

Thanks in advance!!!

What broke down those two times the car’s ended up on the side of the road in the last 6 months? Did those issues get fixed?

I regret not getting the transmission repaired on a car I loved last year – at the time I didn’t know whether to spend $2000 on an old car, but I ended up with much more expensive maintenance on the car I bought to replace it…as I’ve learned recently, it really depends on maintenance with any car, whether it’s worth it to keep up your old one or buy a new/used one with awesome maintenance records.

Usually the Car Talk guys tell people like us (trying to decide to keep or buy) to have the car taken to our trusted mechanics, and have the mechanics look it over to see if there are any big repairs down the road, as if this were a used car you were just thinking of buying.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for love: my mechanic said not to fix my oldy-but-goody car (possible suspension issues coming up), but I never regretted a penny I put into that thing. On the other hand, the car he said would be a better investment never made me feel happy about spending on it – even if the KBB value WAS four times that of my old Geo.

Either way, I’d say put that $250/month, or some significant portion of it, away – either for car payments, or for repairs, whichever you end up needing.

Just got the estimate today- the head gaskets have gone and need to be refurbished. Plus, needs a new timing belt, AC, water pump, spark plugs, and thermostat. They estimate $2500-3500 depending on if the gaskets can be refurbished or need to be installed new and what may actually be wrong with the AC. Blue book value is closer to $2010-2700.

What do they mean by “refurbished” head gaskets?

Was a compression test done? Results?

Oil leaking? Burning?

Coolant leaking? Burning?

Can you live without air conditioning?

Can you replace the thermostat and spark plugs yourself?

$250 / month is not going to buy anything new or nice–you may be in for the same headaches on a newer vehicle.

If you are feeling lucky, roll the dice and do not fix the timing belt. It could snap today, it could snap in another 75K! There is no way to know until it happens.

I am not great with cars, but my understanding is that the top half of the engine needs to be rebuild and if the heads can be refurbished/retooled they will do that otherwise they will need to replace them.

No leaking, but yes, it burns a good amount of oil which I replace regularly.

I live in GA, and yes, I can live without AC, but I will be completely soaked by sweat by the time I get to work each day.

I cannot do any of the repairs myself (I can replace an air filter and that it about it).

I am, however, worried about safety and being stranded.

If the above is true, I would scrap the truck and look for something newer with fewer miles. Good luck!

Based on your description of your situation, I’d say it’s time to start looking for a newer ride.

Don’t get fooled by teaser lease rates. The insurance, taxes, and the surprise at the end of the lease when you realize you spent $10,000 and don’t have a car is not fun. Car loans are pretty cheap now from a credit union, so shop for rates and see if a credit union is available to you.

A 4 year old Honda CRV fresh off a lease that someone else got teased into could be a good deal.