Repairing a 1997 nissan sentra

I was just given a 97 nissan sentra. It needs a lot of work (new brakes, radiator, fixing the exhaust system connections and a timing belt). It has 180,000 miles on it. My question is what exactly do I do know? Is the car worth it and should I fix it? or do i try and find a new car?

I was thinking of going to the nearby tech school to see if they would fix it. would that be a good idea or stupid?

thanks so much!

" My question is what exactly do I do know?"

Ummm…Without trying to be disrespectful…How do we know what you know?
This is Car Talk, not The Psychic Friends Network.

If your question is…Is this car worth repairing?..then I will offer the opinion that it probably is worth repairing, as long as its maintenance over the past 13 years was not non-existent.

As long as this car is not your only source of transportation, as long as you can find a cheap source for repairs (such as a local technical school), and as long as you realize that ongoing repairs will probably be necessary every few months, it is probably worth repairing.

You could TRY the tech school…The worst thing that could happen is they say no…If you must pay a shop to perform these repairs, it might not be worthwhile to fix it up…Is it an automatic? Has the transmission ever been rebuilt? Because at 180K, it’s overdue…That repair will indeed total the car…

Start by going to the library, or buying the repair manual and replace the timing belt yourself. Once you have done that it is downhill from there. If you do not want to do it yourself the price of shop repairs will probably exceed the value of the car.