In the past year I’ve put over $3K into my 2003 VW convertible Beetle including new air conditioner, fan, catalytic converter, driveshafts, brakes and tires. It now needs a new transmission and the price quoted ($4K, which is $2K less than dealer quote) is more than the car is worth per the Kelley Blue Book. The thing is, I like the car and don’t want to take on a car payment or another used car (I purchased this from a dealer as certified pre-owned in 2007) with unknown potential challenges. Input is appreciated!
If you like the “bug” and it’s in overall good shape then I would invest the money and keep it. If it’s high mileage (180K-200K) then I would sell it for parts.
The 3k you’ve already invested doesn’t matter directly-you’re not getting that back no matter what you do. Ask yourself this: if you came across this car with a brand new transmission and every other part of the car exactly as it is today, would you pay 4k for it? If yes, get the repair done.
You have a used car, why not put in a used transmission?
@oldtimer11, how would you know the used transmission hasn’t led a hard life?
Get rid of it! Nothing is worth spending more than it is worth. Sell it for parts and move on!
Do they even make these things anymore as I don’t really see many of the “new” beetles around anymore? If not and you like it, then fix it. If you are getting a used transmission, have the fluid flushed out well as soon as the job is done. Sure, it will need to fluid just from being changed into another car but drive it a few days and then get it flushed.
I would get a compression test run on the engine and have a mechanic evaluate that part of the car. If the engine is solid doesn’t burn oil and has good maintenance records, then go for it. If the engine is iffy, then you might reconsider. If you must add several quarts of oil between changes, I would beware.
I would get rid of it; you are due for more expensive repairs in the future.
VW uses “lifetime” fluid and does not recommend servicing their auto transmissions. Problem is VW’s often have transmission failures and frequently before they clock 100K miles.
The decision is yours, based on the $$$. If you don’t repair the transmission, what kind of money can you get for the car “as is”? What is it worth if it is repaired? How much is the repair? How much for another car?
If you decide to fix it and keep driving it, make sure to disregard the VW recommendation and have the auto trans fluid changed about every 30K miles. Otherwise you might find you are going through this exercise again someday.
I would bet one of the reasons you bought this car is because it is a convertible. You bought the car for more than transportation–you bought something that you think is fun to drive and ride in. If this is the reason and you like the car, I think you should replace the transmission. What I am saying is that one doesn’t buy a VW convertible strictly for transportation.
We just had a similar conversation this morning. We received in the mail a letter from our Toyota dealer offering us over $2000 above book price for our 2003 4Runner on trade for a new car. My wife and I really like our present car and I wouldn’t trade if the dealer offered me $5000 over “book trade-in” price. I don’t care what kind of deal the dealer wants to make in terms of price. Would a different vehicle make more sense for us? Possibly. Will we have some repairs down the road? Probably. I already spent $500 for a new wheel hub bearing. However, when I have a car I like driving, I keep it. I bought an Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon with the 4-4-2 package brand new back in 1978. I finally sold it in October of 2011. I like driving the car so I kept it. When the car was 17 years old, the reverse went out in the transmission. I could have junked the car because it may not have been worth the $400 to rebuild the transmission at the time. (repairs were less expensive then and to remove and replace a transmission on a rear wheel drive car is considerably cheaper than front wheel drive). I did get my money out of this repair by driving the car another 16 years.
Get rid of it. These cars like PT Cruisers use to be all over the place. Not so many now and that should tell you something. They get to be a headache and to expensive early in life and have to be discarded. My daughter had a PT Cruiser it was by far the worst piece of crap I have ever seen. Constantly having expensive problems. I will not bore anyone with the list ( trust me it is long ) the new beetles are all over the net for there lousy reputation. Do what I did cut my losses and moved on never looking back!
Other than the tranny, everything on your list looks like normal wear items for a nine year old VW. If you like the car, IMHO it’s worth fixing. Where else are you going to find a car that you enjoy and know the history of for a paltry $2K?
Ignore the Kelley BB when considering whether to proceed with a repair. When you already own the car, the only comparison that counts is what are your options for the amount of money under consideration. Your best option is to repair the car.
Here’s the benefit of our experience: Once these European cars start sliding downhill it can be an expensive ride. Get rid of it, and do it now.
Maybe your car needs “just one more expensive repair” before it will last you 500K miles with nothing more than a set of tires and wiper blades. The probability of that, though, is low. Once, we had a Mercedes – the quintessential “last forever built like a rock pride of German autobahn-inspired engineering” that felt quite solid but cost us more than a new-car payment over the last 18 months of its life. Our (Mercedes) mechanic would mutter, “yeah, built like no other” when he took another Motrin for his back and explained why it took two hours to wrestle with a timing chain, and why our routine maintenance was so routinely expensive. When it needed a heater core that would have cost three car payments we finally threw in the wrench. We eventually sold it to some pseudo-cognoscenti who just 'had to have a Mercedes" no matter what, just like we did a few years before. We were up front about its maintenance and gave the proud new owner its maintenance records. At first, we had some angst over selling our “dream car” but it soon became perhaps the best car we ever sold.
We lived in Germany for three years. Every two years, the Germans had to undergo a very stringent inspection called the T.U.V. It took two days, and was done by an engineer. The T.U.V. was tough – for example, any rust (even on the muffler) was grounds for a failure, and anything questionable was replaced before the inquisition (sorry, the inspection). The Germans just accepted expensive and frequent repairs and frequent purchases to be a fact of life, and that may help explain why European cars have a well-engineered image but are often so expensive to maintain and repair.
Do some research on what kind of newer car to buy (in all probability). To replace the Merc, we came to our senses and bought a simple (but enjoyable) car that has needed maybe $500 in unscheduled maintenance over the last 10 years, which is about what the Merc cost us each month in repairs over its last 10 months alone.
Sure, it’s a convertible, but get rid of this demon and I’d recommend not being so attached to it. Save your money – you’ll need it for retirement the way things are going.
Are 2003 Bugs considered crap. Also, how many miles on the car? $4000 and you have a nice running car. What’s your alternative? $4000 to buy a jalopy from someone else? Once you have a 10 year old car, get used to the idea of investing money into it each year. All used cars need repairs. If you don’t drive much, it’s cheaper to lease nowdays.