Keep or sell? '96 Saturn SL1

I’m thinking of buying a new car, but maybe not. First I’d like to know what’s on the horizon for my '96 Saturn SL1 with almost 140K miles. What should my mechanic check when I take it for an assessment, which I plan to do before making the keep v. sell decision.

Financially it makes sense to keep driving it. The value at best is $1000-$1500 in running condition if sold. So don’t worry about some repair making it worthless, it is already there.

A major repair will happen sometime (could be 100k from now or 10k) and your decision will be made to leave it.

On the other hand you may be simply be tired of this old car and want to move on. A legit thing as recent cars are many times better than these rolling relics.

You can drive it for a while longer while saving more money toward the new one. It will help. Drive it until you really want that new one. If you get six months out of it when the engine falls apart, you still win. It shouldn’t fall apart.

the keep it or sell it is always a hard decision…it’s not only economic has emotional considerations. i’ve had a 99 SL1 since 2000 and it’s been a great car. thankfully, they are simple cars and the parts are cheap. andrew is right that a major repair can hit realitively quickly.

it somewhat depends on how much you drive now and how well you’ve maintained the car. (thirdly, if you’ve had the car for a while, you probably know how reliable it’s been and how well you’ve kept it up (or not))

it’s not a bad idea to have your mechanic do an hour long diagnostic and tell you the things that are worn out or are on their way out. that would cost you $60-$90 bucks and you might be able to estimate some repairs. I’d also suggest saving up some money for a down payment, you’ll have to buy something eventually and if you keep the car now then you can avoid some of the interest later. an average car payment is probably a couple hundred a month. unless the transmission fails or the engine blows the head gasket, then most repairs will easily be covered in 2-3 months anyways.

i usually think people step away from a more expensive repair as the reason to dump the car. but they will easily pay more than than in a few months for a new or newer car. to them it feels like the car is already useless so spending anything more than an oil change or some tires is too much.

too often the emotional rush from a newer car is what decides, rather than the numbers. An S car of this vintage is probably reliable until 200k. Think about how long from the mileage standpoint you could use the car (assuming safety features isn’t an issue). Then see how much you would have spent on car payments vs. what you might spend on repairs over this time period.

You can always change you mind if a repair is too much. Unless it requires a rebuilt tranny or an engine then you should be fine.

Agree; the car is worth very little, running or not. I’d have a mechanic give it the once over and FIX those things that need doing and don’t break the bank. The mechanic can also tell you what might be looming in the future that’s expensive. At the moment you are not sending good money after bad!

In other words, take things as they come and when something really expensive comes along, ditch it!

Drive it until the wheels fall off. Keep it repaired until the cost is more than the vehicle is worth then sell it for parts. Since Saturn is now “out of business” those parts may be worth a premium to those people who want to keep their Saturns on the road.