To buy or not to buy

I have a 2000 Ford Escort in need of a bit of repair. Brakes need repair (maybe just pads) It could use a tune up - I think the spark plugs need repair it dies a lot at stop lights and idles terribly. Sometimes dies while backing out. The trunk doesn’t close and I don’t know why- it’s like you shut it and it bounces back up like something is in the way- but it’s not. The air conditioning also needs repair- recharging. I’m wondering if it would be better to buy a new (cert. preowned) car or to have all the repairs done to my loyal little crap pile that is all paid off…

brakes and “tune-up” are regular maintenance, not repairs.
Are you sure your AC needs recharged, and not just a thermostat needing replaced?
Any used car is likely to have problems crop up as well, and you can’t be certain how it was maintained unless the previous owner can give you the receipts for it.
Also, if I’m right, your engine has a timing belt over due to be replaced, that isn’t cheap, but it’s still cheaper than a new engine when the belt snaps.

Trunk not shutting properly is probably a simple adjustment that takes a few minutes and a screwdriver to fix.

Spend more time & effort keeping your car in good shape and you’ll save many thousands of dollars compared to trading it in every 5 years or so.

Brakes and spark plugs are just items that wear out. The trunk can be fixed, check with a body shop. The AC may have more significant problems if it doesn’t hold a charge, but a 2000 car isn’t out of line with needing a new charge of refridgerant.

Since you call the car a “crap pile” it seems you aren’t interested in spending money on it or keeping it. If that’s the case you need a new car. Not because your car is in bad shape, but because you just don’t like it anymore.

I Think You Will Have Problems With A Newer Car As Well.

Fix this car or buy another car that will need maintenance and repairs eventually. Cars require maintenance and repairs.

I’l bet that you can’t honestly say that the car started running poorly on the same day that the brakes and A/C went to heck in a handbasket and the trunk started bouncing open.

Whichever car you go with you’ll need to stay on top of things. Letting maintenance and repairs go without attending to them as they surface turns one’s car (any car) into a “loyal little crap pile,” paid off or not.

Do you have a mechanic ? I suggest getting a proper estimate for exactly what this car needs and maybe prioritizing these needs. Then decide if you want to fix it or get rid of it.

Why not start by getting the thing to run without stalling ? Whether you keep it or get rid of it, the car needs to run properly. The mechanic that fixes it can estimate the other repairs for you.


The repairs and maintenance you describe the car as needing shouldn’t be a deal breaker to prompt you to get rid of the car. It sounds like you have a case of “I don’t like this car anymore and want something else.” There is nothing wrong with that, but from a practicality standpoint, you should just repair the car you have.

Word of advice if you do decide to replace this car: “certified preowned” is just a euphemism for a used car. The only difference is in the asking price. If it says “used” instead of “certified preowned,” expect to pay about $2000 less for the car. Either way, get the car inspected before you buy it, even if the salesman claims it had a “784 point inspection.” A buyer’s inspection by an independent mechanic is preferred, but if you don’t go this route, at least take a trusted friend or family member with you, preferably one who knows cars and/or will talk you out of buying a problem child of a car, leaving you worse off than you are now.

One other thing: Someone previously mentioned the necessity of a timing belt change. This is another routine maintenance item which is commonly neglected. Your car does have one. If you have the base Escort (not ZX2) with the base 1.9L SOHC engine, you do not have an interference engine, meaning if the timing belt breaks, it will leave you stranded, but your engine will be fine with a new timing belt. They are also about the easiest timing belts in the world to replace. I can change one out in well under an hour. Most decent shops will do it for around $250. This is not the case with the optional DOHC motor found in all ZX2’s and some highly optioned Escorts. That one is an interference engine and sort of a challenge to work on.

The 2.0 DOHC engine in the ZX2 is not an interference engine.