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Sell or keep this "car"?

Hi there,

I made a post about two weeks ago asking for advice as to whether I should flush or change the automatic transmission fluid on my 2007 Mazda6. This is my wife’s car and was given to her by her cousin for free. It has 142,000 miles and the transmission fluid is dark. I took the advice from all of you and asked a shop to perform a full inspection of the vehicle.

The results? Oil and coolant leaks everywhere, with the coolant leaks being top priority in repairs for aprox. $500ish. So here I am wondering how can someone take his car to the dealership, have them do the regular maintenance and “repairs”, pay $500 to $1000 every bill and still have all these problems?

Should I fix these and keep the car? I used KBB to determine the aprox. value of the vehicle and says the car is worth $2600. The shop didn’t gave me the price on any of the stuff I needed to replace… Except when I asked him which should I fix first, which was the coolant leak. By the looks of it I am expecting to pay about $2000 to keep this car in “somewhat decent condition”.

They also recommended a change of fluids instead of the flush because the flush can cause the transmission to slip.

Without seeing the car or driving it I could not even begin to make a reasonable choice.
I think this is one of life’s problems that only you and your wife can make. Listening to others whether it is friends, relatives or unknown strangers on the internet can only cause mental anguish latter.

That said if it was me I would just fix everything if I was going to keep it and then drive it till it dies.

I would do the transmission ATF change, and not flush as advised but for different reasons. A properly done fluid exchange will not hurt the transmission, but I’m not sure the cost is justified.

As for the oil and coolant leaks, are you monitoring the oil and coolant levels? The mechanic can find leaks that are of no real consequence. You have to monitor these fluids on a regular basis to see if they are becoming a problem.

The oil leaks may not even amount to a quart between oil changes, so they are of no consequence and do not require immediate repair. But you still need to monitor to make sure they don’t suddenly become worse.

The coolant leak sounds like a bad heater hose. Some can be very difficult to replace, but $500 seems very high to me. I could see $200 tops.

One thing to check on is to see if this engine has a timing belt and if it does, has it been replaced on schedule. If it has one and it has not been changed, then it needs to be done asap and that will cost about $1k, but it is worth it.

When you have the ATF changed, make sure the shop uses only the ATF that meets the manufacturers specs and not some universal ATF with or without additives. The wrong ATF will cause problems.

If the tires are wearing evenly and the car drives straight, do not do an alignment.

Here are some thoughts. lMy comments assume that your wife requires a vehicle and this vehicle continues to be a daily driver.

If the vehicle is in decent shape, then it is generally cheaper to repair than to purchase a different unknown vehicle. This one is a bit more known quanitity than one you purchase from someone else.

I would fix the coolant leaks,do the ATF service, and put on four tires/alignment, in that order. The alignment may also show some suspension issues, given the mileage of the vehicle.

I would monitor the oil leaks to see if they warrant repair. Need to know how much oil is being lost during an oil change interval, due to the leaks and/or other engine issues. I have been watching a rear main seal leak on one of my trucks for 15 years. It is still OK. If you watch your oil level, the leakage is manageable. Are any of the leaks showing on the ground when parked?

Having some maintenance history for the vehicle would tell you if the tune up is needed. Spark plug change interval may vary from every 60K miles to 100K miles.

This vehicle was parked for about half a year in the street. When I first picked up the car, and that was about a month ago, I refilled the coolant reservoir with about 500 ml of water. Since then the coolant level is still in the same level. I just had the shop do the oil change for me today. How do I check how many quarts I am losing from now on? Also, I have never seen oil left on the ground.

I think the ATF change was about $90 something. Are filters replaced during a fluid change?

As for the tires, I will just swap them for a set of used tires.

The shop never told me anything about the timing belt. I thought this was included in the “full inspection” I paid for.

Check the oil once a week and add enough to bring to full mark. Keep track of your mileage and how much oil you use in a certain range, say 1000 miles.

Thanks a lot, will do! :sunglasses:

If it runs and does not spill fluids heavily, I would just do the basic maintenance and drive it till it dies. It would seem the coolant stays in and just make sure it is up to strength when the cold weather arrives.

A transmission fluid & filter change will set you back about $100 and is a good investment.

Good luck and keep us posted!

A timing belt can look pretty darn good via a visual inspection, and yet it can snap–with VERY expensive consequences–five minutes later, if it is over-aged.
That is why this component is supposed to be replaced on schedule, as per either odometer mileage or elapsed time.
If it has never been replaced, it is now overdue to the tune of ~52,000 miles, which means that it could snap at any time.

If you don’t have hard copies of maintenance records showing that the timing belt was replaced at ~90k miles, then you have to assume that it has never been done.
Unless the cousin who gave you this car can give you evidence of timing belt replacement, you need to have this done—tomorrow.
Otherwise, you risk VERY expensive repairs when that belt snaps, with no warning whatsoever.

Can I use carfax to pull up the maintenance records of this vehicle?

you can try carfax but it’s not a 100% foolproof system. The information contained in carfax is only as accurate as it is reported by member shops.

Btw, there are several posts related to timing belts. You might want to verify that yours DOES have timing belt. Some models have a timing chain.

Thanks a lot kurt. :sunglasses:

Why not just ask the cousin who gifted the car to you for copies of his/her maintenance records?
Surely a responsible person would retain those records, and they are likely just sitting around somewhere.

Whether it’s a 4 or 6 cylinder it uses a timing chain.

1 Like lists only a timing chain for your Mazda6.

1 Like

For a free car, not looking too bad. Get an estimate to fix the cooling system, check with the mechanic about watch and wait on the oil leaks. If you are thinking of getting another used older car stick with this one my rhought.

If you really mean water, I’d suck it out with a turkey baster and replace with 50/50 coolant.

The thing is that’s the value for an example that isn’t leaking oil and coolant. Most buyers will find out how much those repairs cost and will deduct that amount from their offer. But you didn’t pay anything the car either.

500ml is only a coke-bottle of volume. It’s not going to affect the coolant ratio materially. Granted, it doesn’t have rust inhibitors, etc., but it shouldn’t hurt. That said, the coolant ratio should be checked.