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Seeking Sage Advice - Time to invest in repairs or in a newer version of the same thing?

Have a 2007 Suzuki SX4. Other than a couple of very minor complaints, absolutely LOVE the car. In fact, I adore it. It suits me perfectly. It now has 162,000 miles on it.

I recently mentioned in this forum that it threw the P0420 code. Then it went away (all on it’s own). Yesterday, the check engine light came on again, and I haven’t checked yet, but based on comments heard here in this forum, pretty sure that’s what it’ll be again. So… looking at the cost of whatever it might be to either replace an O2 sensor (or two?) and maybe possibly a catalytic converter. Neither of which are cheap. Oh yeah, almost forgot. It also “squeaks” when going over speed bumps (even slowly). I was told it was the sway arm bushings (??? - I’ve got the paperwork around here somewhere. Can’t find it at the moment). My 5-star mechanic said that it wasn’t a serious thing, but obviously, it needs to get it fixed at some point. It’s also within about 5,000 miles of needing new tires.

On Friday, somebody rear-ended me and drove off. I’m looking at $1,000 deductible on my collision, and just based on the “value” of the vehicle, the insurance company might just total it out… for basically what’s just a few scrapes and scratches to the rear of the car (I had my foot on the brake at the time I was hit). Or I can choose to not have it fixed.


Did I mention I love this car? I’ve been looking online, and there are two newer ones near me. One is a 2010, the other is a 2012. Same exact car, just that they have fewer miles and both of them also have a CVT instead of the 4 speed Automatic. They also both happen to be in the color that I originally wanted (trying not to be emotional here, but possibly worth mentioning. LOL).

I have read people’s comments on CVT’s extensively, and it seems to fall in the “love it or hate” category. Also… the reliability… some have had failures after 60k, others, no problems at all. So, not sure that CVT is a better thing or not, but, here’s what I’m considering…

The 2012 is in cherry condition, and has 47,000 miles on it.
The 2010 appears to be in cherry condition, and has 95,000 miles on it, and is obviously a wee bit cheaper.

One option goes this way — The 2007 I have now is completely and totally drive-able as is. And IF the insurance company totals it out, I could buy it back, get a salvage title, and invest whatever money they give me in a new catalytic converter, possibly a new O2 sensor, sway arm bars, and new tires.

Or, I could just buy a newer one and avoid all that hassle – for at least a little while later.

Opinions? I really need some sage advice here on what the best option is. I wish Tommy were still around… he’d know what to do…

Suzuki has left the US market . For your own future peace of mind let this one go and look at brands that will stay in business. You can do whatever you like but I would not put the amount of money you are looking at in your present vehicle.

Let’s say you keep the car. It has the salvage title, new tires and $1,000 of repairs to clear the cel. After a few months something else goes awry and you decide it is time to sell it. Who will want it? You won’t recoup anything close to what you spent on the tires and repair. Seems like a bad idea to keep it on those terms.

Do you have to pass a smog test? My son-in-law drove his '98 Grand Prix for the last 5 years with the check engine light on (ran fine)…that car would not die.

Fixing this car goes well beyond economics of the decision, and I would not criticize you for doing so. I would make that choice over looking for a replacement. At least you have a known vehicle here. Any replacement would also be a used vehicle and might have hidden and more serious problems.

There’s an old saying; “never fall in love with a car”. It’s usually quoted by those who have never found a car they loved. :smiley:

Don’t fall in love with anything that can’t love you back!

I agree with others that since they’ve left the market, you might as well call it quits and move on. There are many desirable vehicles out there.

Well, thanks for the advice so far. I know others will want to chime in too. For the record, when my previous car was totaled last year (in another hit and run accident – it was a Honda)… I looked for a suitable replacement in that price range – Toyota or Honda – and just could NOT find anything that a) wasn’t utterly beat to crap or b) actually was within my price range… but whenever I did, they had 2-3x the mileage on it.

Then I found this one… it was a wee bit more than I wanted to spend, but was a recommended model by a certain magazine (initials: C.R.) that absolutely forbids the use of their recommendations elsewhere, and for a car in this price range, is absolutely loaded with features. I also extensively read owners comments on the Suzuki forums, which seemed to be almost universally positive – with the general consensus that Suzuki really had a winner with this one.

Anyway, thinking about just biting the bullet and investing in a newer one. I know that Suzuki has the left the U.S. market, but they’re still made in Japan… parts can still be had for now… so there’s that. If I could find a good used Honda Fit (mainly because, great gas mileage, and I like the four door hatchback style), I would… but even used, they command a pretty penny…

Like I said, I know others will weigh in (and I look forward to reading their comments), but already thinking this may just be a lost cause. Time to move on, perhaps…

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You love your 2007 car for all valid reasons. I love my 1999 car, too. It has over 160K miles. I will miss it when its time comes, and I will wonder if anything can equal or surpass it. That is to say, I will be facing your quandary. Many here would admit to having a passion or at least admiration for and appreciation of this car or that truck.

Is your car still safely roadworthy, though damaged? If so, take time to investigate options - as you are doing. And if your decision has a rational and an emotional component - c’est la vie. Best wishes to you!

If your car is totaled move on. You seem astute enough to follow your own advice, even if it is not totaled, move on, Get something you are happy with after a test drive and mechanic inspection.

If it was a Corolla there wouldn’t be much trouble to put it back on the road provided you were up to the parts and labor expense. But a Suzuki, if you are in the U S, I presume you are, then that’s going to be problematic. There weren’t that many of these sold in the USA in the first place, certainly far fewer than a Corolla or other common econobox, Honda, Mazda, etc, and Suzuki has departed the US new car market as I understand. All that’s likely to combine in a bad way for you. You might be facing long delays with the car in the shop waiting for the needed parts. Unless you have a trusted mechanic who’s experienced with this vehicle and says it is economically repairable, me, I’d move on.

I don’t know how much damage your car has but I wouldn’t be ashamed to drive a car with a dent, a squeak and a warning light on. Unless an annual emissions test is required I wouldn’t be concerned about the catalytic converter performance.

Used body parts are available, auto recyclers didn’t through their parts in the ocean when Suzuki left. New OEM parts generally aren’t used to repair older cars.

I wouldn’t worry about resale value, it might be worth $1200 now and $400 five years from now. If the engine or transmission fail 6 months from now you would not have lost as much in depreciation as you would if you bought another car.

I have no pride and will drive an ugly and damaged car all day if it saves me money. I’m guessing this Suzuki will fall into that category. IMHO, it takes a lot to make not worthwhile to keep economically.

Take the money the insurance company will give you, bank it and drive this thing with as little invested as possible. Save up for the next vehicle and when this becomes too much of an economic burden to keep on the road, junk it.

If a mechanic properly diagnoses the catalytic converter as being faulty, and your car does need to pass an emissions test, I would go to an exhaust shop and ask them to weld in the cheapest cat that is legal and will enable it to pass

Make sure the cat is on the “approved” list for your car. Some savvy smog technicians actually look at the label and will fail cars with unapproved aftermarket cats. And rightfully so, IMO

I wouldn’t expect such a cheapo cat to last much past 5 years, but I don’t think you’re planning to drive the car forever, anyways . . .

I know there are many among you that are firmly convinced that every single P0420 is always caused by the sensors, and never by the cat

I do smog inspections, including the tailpipe + dyno kind, and I’ve seen plenty of bad cats

It does happen :trollface:

Of course there are bad cats. They get contaminated by one means or another and stop ‘catting.’ My concern has been the mechanics who tell someone P0420 is ALWAYS the cat. That is always nonsense. A good mechanic, as described here by one of our better mechanics, will have a graphing scanner and can tell exactly if the sensors or cat is bad The problem is, not all mechanics can do that.

But, yes, over the years there have been people here who have said it is ALWAYS the sensors. I am not going to accuse anyone of lying without SOLID proof.

My old Sienna had P0420 intermittent failures here in Mexico. In October my clever Son-in-law replaced the last two sensors and it hasn’t so much as glitched since then.


May I assume your son-in-law took a calculated risk by replacing the sensors?

In other words, you figured the odds were in your favor that the sensors would keep that P0420 from returning?

I’m not implying anything, by the way . . . I’m just asking questions

Considering all of the factors about the car and if there is no emissions testing in your area my vote is to just drive the car until it can’t be driven anymore. Car payments break me out in a nasty rash so I drive mine forever and a day; and then some.

Sway bar bushings can often be quietened down with some spray lube so I’d give that a shot first and new tires when the time comes. Other than that, turn up the stereo with some AC/DC and motor on until it can’t motor anymore. :smiley:

Sounds to me like if you love it…and the current minor issue you have… Just repair and drive it. The P0420 code will inevitably be your O2…and most likely the one after the cat…but they are both old and you can benefit from swapping them both out…Easy Peasy Japanesey.

Tires are a part of driving and apply to every vehicle that travels the roads. Your current codes and the solution are well within reason…buy the O2 off of Ebay and you will save considerably… But buy the factory type…either Bosch or NGK most likely. DO NOT play with generic or El Cheapo…just dont. Replacing the O2 sensors is more than simple…then…motor on.