Keep the Geo or the Passat?

passat
engines
geo
used
selling
prizm
volkswagen
transmissions

#1

We have 2 cars, no car payments. Just yesterday the dashboard lights instructed me to STOP–the coolant is leaking ($500) and we may need transmission mounts and engine mounts ($1100).



We think we might need a new car but are having a tough time deciding which to keep.



The Geo Prizm (95) is reliable and running fine, but w/out A/C. My husband uses it to get to/from work (<10 miles/day). It has ~90K miles.



The one that’s hurting is a 2003 VW Passat (4cyl) Wagon, and it has ~105Kmiles. I use it in work commuting and for family trips. We have the oil changed regularly and have replaced the timing belt. Over the years it’s needed a new waterpump, its engine light comes on frequently, new front axle shaft assemblies, boot repair ($589) misfire faulties for cylindar #2 &4, Coils replaced, fluid leak from enginge- camshaft tensioner seal and valve cover gasket ($426), front brake pads and roters ($500), new tires…the file is thick.



At what point do we give up on the VW? Which car to replace first? Any recommendations on new/used? Any car we’d get would have to have good gas mileage.


#2

Let’s say a new car payment is $400. If the $1600 in repairs keeps the Passat going for more than 4 months, then you’re ahead, at least in terms of raw economics. Otherwise it sounds like it’s time to get rid of the Passat and buy a new family car, and leave hubby in the Geo. I’ll bet he’ll drive the new car on errands and weekends anyway, so it’s not much of a sacrifice for him to keep the Geo as a commuter car.


#3

Dump the VW. It’s already broken, and once you fix it it’ll still be unreliable. The Geo Prizm is a re-badged Toyota Corolla and is a very reliable little beast.

If you’re worried about no AC, it is possible to have one installed. I’d go to a junkyard and find a Prizm/Corolla with an intact AC, put it in, and then bring it to an AC shop for leak testing and charging.

Look at used Acura Integras - they’re pretty cheap these days, very reliable, and were nice little cars. Got decent gas mileage too.


#4

I’d tend to agree if any car has to go, the VW should be the first on the chopping block–it’s the one that’s causing you aggravation. Question to ask yourself: if you get rid of one, and the other bites the dust as well, can you afford two car payments?

As others will undoubtedly recommend, get a copy of Consumer Reports car buying guides for both new and used cars.

Possibilities: Hyundai Elantra Touring 26 mpg overall; Mazda5 23 mpg overall


#5

Is this really a difficult decision? The Prizm is one of the most reliable cars on the planet. The Passat . . . not so much.

I’d take any opportunity that came along to dump the Passat. Are you paying dealer prices to repair a 7 year old car?


#6

Thanks all. (to answer your question mcparadise, I’ve been to import garages, dealership garages, and a tire-brand name garage. the tire folks were decent-priced, but turned off the check engine light when they couldn’t figure it out. The dealer is like a leech, and the import guy is happy to have my business.)

I guess I didn’t want to believe the first new car I ever bought would go sour faster than an older car I bought used. This has almost scared me off new cars. New decision to make then…how soon do we get rid of the Passat?! Is now a good time to buy, or is there a better time? (Feb?)

as for 2 car payments…as long as one is really, really low, then yes, we could handle it.