Repair or sell 2001 Ford Taurus

I have a 2001 Ford Taurus with about 130,000 miles on it and it’s given me nothing but problems since it’s been with me, especially these last two years. In 2012 the cars fuel pump went out and that cost around $800 and then recently in 2013 it gave me a whole list of problems starting in October. First the battery failed (not a major problem got a new one for around $75) then in the same month the starter failed, paid close to $300. Then in November the heater went out, this was a major problem as I live in Iowa and my windows were frosted over and I couldn’t drive it anywhere, this cost me around $400 with some additional repairs. Now in December the transmission decided it to wanted to go out and I haven’t repaired it yet, but I do have some estimates. If the mechanic did all the work it would be around $1300 but if I got a used transmission from and scrapyard (costing around $500 from estimates I got) the mechanic would do it for around $500; so looking at $1000 total there. The question now is, is it worth the repair? I’ve only had this car for about 4 years and it’s given me minor problems from the start (headlights, taillights, tires, deer hitting it, etc.) I didn’t have a choice when I got this car, my previous car (1993 Buick Regal) got scrapped out after a major breakdown, may it rest in pieces, and I needed a new car fast so my family chipped in and found this Ford. I’ve never been a fan of this car and I’m honestly tired of putting more and more money into it.

I’ve got some people telling me just to repair it cause I’m trying to go to school and I don’t need a nice car to go back to school, I would think I would need a reliable car though and this car is far from that; it’s actually part of the reason I failed out of school this year cause I couldn’t make it to classes with it always breaking down. Some tell me I should repair it then sell it, I’m just hesitate about that because it’s had so much put into it already and I don’t feel it’s worth a $1000 repair. It’s also showing signs of a needed new belt again, it screeches and whines when I turn, and at times when I could drive it before it would make a loud THUNK sound from the rear whenever I was slowing down, accelerating or turning and I have no idea what is causing that. I’m curious to know what those of you hear think, should I sell it/scrape it out or try and repair again?
Thanks for your input!

I bet until 2012, it has given some one decent service as your mentioned problems prior to that seem pretty normal. The Taurus is as much a fleet car as it is personal transportation. I look at fleet cars as having decent reliability, up to a point. Then it’s time to trade. A more then ten yer old Taurus IMHO, has reached that point. You bought it cheaply I bet and got what you payed for. I would move on and put no more money into it.

Get rid of it ASAP. Buy a good Honda civic or crv. These cars are built tough and are bullet proof and are really easy to repair. They are good student cars.

You can try to sell it, but I doubt that anyone will want it. The Taurus (and other sedans of similar vehicle class) does not do well on the used market, and that is especially so if it has a transmission issue.

What you have is a 13yr old car. Pretty much everything that you’re talking about is normal stuff. If you have an older, higher mileage car then you take the trade off. You probably don’t have car payments and pay less on insurance, and property tax where applicable.

Your two choices are to find something newer and likely pick up a car loan and higher insurance premiums in the process - or - start doing your own stuff on cars. I’m not suggesting that you figure out how to R&R a transmission but there’s no reason to have to blow $300 on a starter. It’s also the case that the Taurus is known for transmission issues and yours is at typical mileage for that - BUT, its very much associated with never having had the transmission serviced. While you probably can’t r&r a transmission, you probably could replace its fluid & filter. A fuel pump failure is not that odd either - but perhaps the original fuel pump was taxed by a dirty fuel filter - ?

I’m just saying that if you don’t want to pick up the expenses of a newer car with fewer miles then you might want to think about getting vigilant about maintenance and get into doing some of your own work on an older, higher mileage car.

Battery, tires, headlight and tail light bulbs, serpentine belt are regular maintenance items that have to be replaced on any car. Your chances of getting a reliable car for the $1300 you need to put in this car are slim to none.
I think you need to look at these questions:

  1. Do you need a car or can you live close to campus or on campus so you can do without the car?
  2. If you need a car, how much more time do you need out of the car before you complete you r degree?
  3. How much are you able to spend on another vehicle if you go that route?

Hondas are reliable cars, but many Hondas have a timing belt (not the serpentine belt you need to replace) and this work costs at least $600. Unless you buy a new car, you will have some immediate expenses such as tires. As an example, I have a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan I purchased new. I am a fairly conservative driver, but at 50,000 miles I have had brake pads replaced with new front rotors, new tires at 35,000 miles even though I kept them properly inflated and did the recommended rotation every 5000-10,000 miles and a new battery. I got more miles before I had tires (55,000 miles), brakes (60,000 miles) and never had to replace the battery in the 2006 Chevrolet Uplander that owned before selling the Uplander to our son and buying the Sienna. Just because a vehicle says Toyota or Honda does not necessarily make it less expensive on repairs and maintenance than Chevrolets or Fords.
If $1300 in repairs followed up by some conservative driving will buy you another 2 years, you might be ahead to repair the Taurus.

Let me add another sad story and a happier one. Back in 1968, I was teaching a college freshmen mathematics class and I had a student in the class who was failing the course. He came to see me and it turned out he was working a night job to pay for a new car. He lived about 12 miles out of town, but insisted he needed the new car for the commute. At the time, my brother was driving a 5 year old Buick and commuting to a campus for a teaching position that was 50 miles away from his home. The student in my class was afraid he would be drafted into the military (this was during the Vietnam situation) if he flunked out. I figured out for him that the depreciation on the car alone would allow him to live on campus and that he could sell the car, move to campus and complete the degree. He didn’t want to do that, so he flunked out and had to sell the car anyway when he was drafted.
In the mid 1980s, I had a student in a computer class that was also a horn player and I had gotten her a couple of gigs. She applied for an internship in a local industry, but it wasn’t awarded to her. She did, though, take a position with the industry as a night computer operator. She then went on a buying spree–moved into an expensive apartment, bought a new car, and all kinds of things for her apartment. She came to me late in the semester because she was failing a statistics course. I worked with her for three hours and she managed to get a “C” in the course. When she came back to show her appreciation for my help, I told her that she was just getting a surface knowledge in her classes and she would probably be a computer operator for the rest of her career. I urged her to quit the job. She replied that she had too many expenses with her new car, apartment, and its furnishings. I then replied, “The person went away sorrowful because she has a great many possessions”. She left my office angry and slammed the door so hard I thought the glass in the door would break. I figured I would never see her again. However, in the middle of the summer she came back to see me. “You really made me angry last spring”, she said. “However, when I thought I about what you said, I realized you were right. I quit the job, sold the car and moved out of the apartment. I now live in a room down the street from campus and ride a bicycle”. To make a long story short, her grades went up and she got a very good job when she graduated.
My advice to Jo1226 is to make your education your high priority.

Thanks for all the replies everyone, I appreciate all the opinions and advice. I have some basic knowledge on car repairs, but when it comes to the major breakdowns I’m at a loss on how to fix them. I should have clarified more that the problem with the fuel pump was the whole system, needed new lines and everything so that was why it was an expensive fix.

To Triedaq: I don’t live close enough to bike/walk to classes, I’ve been looking to move closer but so far I haven’t had any luck unless I want to pay near $1000 a month in rent and being a nontraditional student they don’t offer dorm options. I still have around three years before I’m finished there. With my current income I can comfortably afford a car in the $8000 range on my own, I don’t want a new car for awhile and I’m quite content on used cars.

One of my co-worker friends had a 90’s Taurus and it seemed pretty reliable. The only problem they seemed to have over the 15 years they owned it was with the ignition switch. But if you decide to buy another car, either new or used, and you want to boost your chances it will be reliable, be sure to look up its reliability rating in the Consumer Reports Guide to New (or Used) Cars.

My wife racked up a lot of miles in Ford Taurus cars. She did graduate recruiting at the university where we were both employed. When she had a choice of which vehicle she wanted from the fleet, she preferred the Taurus over the Honda Civic Hybrid or the Chevrolet Malibu. If Jo1226 has a long distance commute, the comfort of the car should enter into her choice if she replaces the Taurus with another make.

Well it depends on how well maintained and how well driven. Single hand driven, or a lot of people driving it. Company car driven. No maintenance done. Or all maintenance done. For example if the previous user did not change the fuel filter, the whole fuel system will be bad. So its important to buy from a good person, with all maintenance done, single hand driven. Even the strongest car if not maintained or driven properly can be a nightmare.

I doubt that the problems are due to the fact that it’s a Taurus. It sounds more like a 10 year old car that saw little if any maintenance and some of those repairs are not indicative of a problem child car. Some of it is just normal maintenance/wear and tear items.

Normally, I’m inclined to say fix it but with a transmission issue and your irritation with the car it might be time to just sell the car to some DIYer on Craigslist and be done with it, followed by moving on to something else.
Any something else should be carefully inspected pre-purchase or at the very least should be given a very thorough test drive while paying close attention to how the car runs, drives, any noises, etc.
The test drive should include the radio being off and any talk kept to a bare minimum…

@Triedaq gives some good advice. It’s not that we are all against an old Taurus. But, the difference between having a good education and not is that you can keep an older car because you want to, not because you have to.