The entire air-conditioning system in my 2005 Scion xB, which has only 56,000 miles on it, needs to be replaced. Compressor is bad, evaporator has a leak, hoses are leaking, and all of this requires a full dashboard pull. My regular – and trustworthy – mechanic said a new compressor for this model is one of the most expensive he’s ever seen – around $900.And he isn’t comfortable doing the work because he hasn’t done this before for a Scion xB. All told, the repairs would cost about $2,500, a little less if I bought a rebuilt compressor in the $400 to $500 range. It’s been a great car otherwise – no issues at all. I just can’t believe the whole a/c system is bad at 56,000 miles. (I walk to work most days, which is why the mileage is so low.) My question: Is my eight-year-old car worth this expensive repair investment? (I called Scion and, of course, they won’t help.)
That’s not really the question. The question is, are you willing to live without AC or not? If not, you have two choices:
Have the AC fixed at considerable expense. And don’t try to cheap out. Have it done right the first time or you will have wasted your money. Plenty of sad stories on this website of people who had their AC systems repaired badly, and had to do it all over again.
Sell the car as is and buy something else with functionining AC.
Since you walk to work most days, and evidently don’t drive the car that much, you might be OK without AC depending on where you live.
No matter how good your mechanic has been in the past, his reluctance to take on this job is a good indication that his expertise in A/C matters is lacking. In order to make an educated decision regarding your car, you need to get an estimate from a shop that does nothing but A/C (and perhaps, radiator) repairs. A specialized A/C shop may give you a less dire diagnosis, and may well charge less than your regular mechanic.
If you get a similar estimate from an A/C specialist, then you have to make a decision regarding how much money to “invest” in this 8 year old car, but if you do decide to have the repairs done, more than likely an A/C specialist can do a more competent job than your regular mechanic.
This is like the difference between going to a general surgeon, and a specialized surgeon who regularly does a specific surgical procedure that you need. The specialist is much more likely to have better competency in the type of work that you need to have done.
My vote is to get another opinion from an A/C specialist. It’s difficult to imagine wholesale slaughter of the system on a 2005 model.
Thank you all for the guidance. I will definitely get an opinion from an a/c specialist.
A Scion with 56K miles should have a lot of life left in it. When a AC compressor fails, it can send debris everywhere and damage the system throughout, so it is possible the diagnosis is absolutely correct. I wouldn’t use a rebuilt compressor, so the price tag of $2500 seems within reason. I assume you have no car payments now. What’s your car payment if dump the Scion and you buy a new car? If one year of car payments totals more than $2500, and the Scion is otherwise in good condition, I think fixing-up the Scion’s AC makes the most sense. Good idea to get a personal recommendation for the repair, and if they do a good job, always have them do the servicing on it going forward. Improper routine AC service, esp overcharging, is a common cause of auto AC problems.
Thanks so much for the guidance, George.