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New clutch, or new car?

I have a 1996 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport with 173,000 miles on it. It needs a new clutch (quoted at about $1,000), and I just put out $500 to fix a bunch of leaks and hoses and such. I’m tempted to replace it with a new Honda Fit, but I feel guilty about ditching my trusty Subaru before the 200K rollover. Is the Honda Fit worth scrapping the Subaru, or should I keep maintaining my old car until it really dies?

I think it depends on the condition of the car, which you have not described to us very well. For me, clutch replacement is not a big deal and you can generally get enough miles out of it to justify the cost. The Fit comes with a major new cost ($19K? outright, or a car payment).

Well, right: the new-car cost is a bit daunting, but I could pay cash for it (about $15K). Naturally, I’d rather save that money, but it’s tempting to go for something new that just drives better all 'round. My Subaru is generally in pretty good shape, but the body’s got some dents and rust. I guess that’s really the question: is the $1,000 clutch worth it, in relation to the high mileage, minor body issues and ongoing maintenance costs?

A new clutch gets you 50K -75K more miles without another one. I assume you have kept up timing belt maintenance, too. If not, that is an additional cost to look forward to.

You will probably face some additional repair costs due to age and miles on the Impreza, but I have not found the maintenance costs of maintaining our Subaru to be expensive. Dents and minor rust can be mitigated with a little DIY work. That’s a lot cheaper than $15K, and may get you several more years of service, depending on your use patterns.

If your car has the 2.2 liter engine, like mine does, I suggest you install a new clutch and keep on driving.

Clutch? $1,000.

New Honda Fit? $15,000, maybe more.

Which is less?

Spending $1,500 for maintenance in one year is not really that much, and a clutch is maintenance, not repair.

Is this the original clutch?

Thanks very much for your thoughts! I just got a call from the mechanic (car is there right now getting the hoses and things done), and I need a whole new radiator, too. Ugh. I’m tired of laying out cash for this thing, but it really is pretty reliable. I haven’t put much money into it at all for the last few years, so I guess I’m fortunate, all things considered.

Well, it’ll be about $2,000 this year, with the new radiator and all … I do think it’s the original clutch, as I bought the car in 1999 and have not replaced it yet.

Fix the Subaru and keep on rocking with no car payment. The $500 you’ve already spent is a sunk cost. Keep the maintenance going and this car should have many years of service left in it.


A new radiator is also a one time cost for this car, too, so it is well spent and that particular repair will probably not have to be repeated for the duration.

Before ditching this car I would call around for a few more quotes. $1000 is in the mid to upper range for this work.