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Repair it, or take advantage of the "buyer's market"?

Hello everyone,

I’m the less than proud owner of a 2000 Olds Alero V6 with 108k miles. I’ve been fortunate to make it this far with the intake manifold gasket not completely failing, but alas, the time has come. It’s a common problem with this engine, since the gasket is made from plastic.

My mechanic estimates it to be a $800-$1000 job, which is about average.

Now, being that I own the car, I was hoping to get 2-3 more years of service out of it. However, given the recession and the state of the auto industry, and my ability to pay cash for a car, I was wondering if I should try to get a deal on a new car (perhaps a Jetta TDI) by taking advantage of the current financial conditions, assuming things will be different in 2-3 years.

So, pay $800-$1000 now to keep my Alero running? Or say the heck with it and try to save a few thousand on a new car now?


The Alero is a true orphan.The Olds divison no longer exists, the sales volume was low, and GM will be dropping more lines in the next month. This means that body parts for your Alero will be hard to find in the future. The only thing relatively certain is that GM will survive in some form, but muchsmaller.

I would be inclined to get a new car sionce there are so many good deals. Toady’s discounts exceed the residual value of your Alero, so you could actually give it away. If it does not run, I would sell it for parts.

Car market is soft, but I’d be surprised if you’d save any money on a new TDI, they’re rare and in demand. Accord, Camry, Fusion, Sonata, etc, you’ll make a good deal. Won’t change in the near future, no rush.

If it was me and I didn’t totally hate the car, I’d keep it. That intake gasket repair is only going to be two or three new car payments. If this is the first main issue you’ve had with the car, chances are good you will still get 2-3 or more years out of it without any major problems. 108K miles is not many miles for that Olds. But that’s what you’ll get with your post: several different opinions. You can rationalize any decision (at least I can) either way you turn. New car will cost a lot more monthly with payments, insurance. You’ll still have to perform maintenance on your new car. So based on the economy, and most people not having a job that they’re 100% positive they will still have in 2-3 years (before a new car is typically paid off), I’d play the conservative hand and stick with the Olds. Also, if you are planning on the new VW gas economy being so great that the money you save on gas alone will itself justify the purchase, once again that’s a gamble. If gas goes back to $4 / gal, maybe it will. But if it stays under $2 /gal. you’re not going to save that much. One more thing, how do you know that in 2 or 3 years you won’t be able to get a better deal on a new car than you can today? Just because the economy is down now, that doesn’t mean that it will recover 100% and there won’t be any deals out there in 2 years. So that’s my 2 cents worth.

A diesel gets 40% better mileage than the same car with a gasoline engine but the fuel is 40% more expensive,thats a wash right? Does anyone (other than our resident TDI driver)really prefer driving a diesel? I know I don’t.

Have you driven any recent diesels?

I have had more than a few occasions rented an Honda Accord Estate, Mercedes C-Class, VW Golf, and Dodge Minivan all diesel in europe and found the engines much pleasant to drive than gasoline counterparts. They have an incredible amount of power down low and deliver decent mileage.

However the premium for diesel seems hardly worth it in the US I agree. In Europe it is cheaper to purchase diesel vs gasoline.

I have a 99 Olds Alero and have had this same problem repaired twice, first in 2005 and again March 2009. I spent b/t $500 and $600 on the job. not $800. I hadn’t remembered doing it in 2005 when I had it done recently though. I do heavy in town driving and my engine runs hot. I’m now at 150,000mls. I will probably get 200,000 or more before I let this baby go. The engine other than the gasket is a work horse and may last over 200,000 mls.
My transmission is slipping because it was sealed and the express lube “kids” unknowingly, broke the seal to check the transmission fluid.;(
To replace it would cost $2000. The car is now not worth that at trade in value.

Plastic int manifold? Yours must have been built by Pontiac, that day. I own a 1999 Alero and a 2004 Alero - both great cars - both 3.4L 6s with 3400 emblazoned on the tops of the intake manifolds - and both int manifolds are metal. But, who knows, maybe for 2000 GM opted for plastic - unless, your car was in a wreck or the engine blew up and an inferior Pontiac engine was used for the replacement. If that’s the case I’d probably dump it and get an Alero with the metal manifold, the way God intended all Aleros to be.