To repair or not, and at what cost? 2001 ford focus

About 2 years ago I purchased a 2001 ford focus with 60,000 miles for about 3,500. I had the car checked out, before I bought it, everything was in working order. Since then, I’ve driven it nearly 30,000 miles and low and behold, it’s starting to break down. I wanted to ask your opinions about the cost and necessity of the various repairs I have made, and the ones I’ve been told I need to have done.

2 weeks ago my alternator died on me, I had my car towed to a repair shop owned by a family friend and was charged $690 for the repair. I felt this cost was unfair, so last week when my car started lurching, I brought it to a different garage and asked for a diagnostics test and an estimate for what needed to be repaired. Turned out to be a cracked ignition coil which I had replaced along with spark plugs- the cost of this job along with the diagnostics test was $490. Seemed about reasonable, especially since the mechanic told me up front that diagnostics would cost me about $90.

After looking at my car he also found that the back right wheel bearing needed to be replaced, but I didn’t have the cash to get that taken care of at the time. I understand that that job should cost about $250. Am I right? I didn’t get a quote from him.

Anyway, after sinking 1/3 the cost of the car in repairs in 2 weeks, my new plan is to sell it, put a down payment on a Toyota. I have been told I probably need new brake pads too- not sure what the cost of that would be. All things considered, do y’all think I’m getting a fair deal from either one of these mechanics on my repairs? What do you think the cost of getting the bearing and brake pads replaced would be? Should I just sell the car for what I can get for it now and forgo repairs? Or in general should I be able to make at least some of my money back by getting it fixed up before listing?


Brakes are normal wear items. If you want a new car get it. Remember there are monthly payments, full coverage insurance. These will out pace the cost of your repairs quickly.

I’d fist the brakes and replace the bearing. You should replace goth rear bearings at the same time. Both items are about 3 months car payment on a 4 year loan.

A 13 year old Ford Focus with 90,000 miles on it will need regular repairs fromnow on. As do many other cars. I would replace normal wear items and when a really big repair occurs, just dump the car.

If you are under the impression that cars do not require repairs as they age, You are sadly mistaken.

At that mileage a new radiator, starter, alternator and battery are all normal replacement items.

I agree that all these things (except the battery) last much longer in a Toyota, but you’ve had reasonably good service out of your $3500 car.

$690 to diagnose and replace an alternator seems kind of steep . . . even if it was a Motorcraft alternator installed at the dealer

What was the cost of the part?

How many hours labor were you billed?

What’s the hourly labor rate?

I’m with db on the alternator cost. I’ll add that of you ARE using the dealer, you’ll be paying much more than using a reputable independent shop.

As to selling and replacing it, there’s nothing in your post that suggests other than normal wear & tear. If your plan it to replace it with another used car, I think you’d be a lot smarter to keep this one. Once you get these few items fixed, you should be fine, probably a lot better off that taking the risk of getting a dog. Any used car this age should be expected to have these types of failures.

The types of failures that should cause you to think about moving on are those that indicate internal engine or drivetrain problems, or body rot. A blown headgasket, excessive oil burning, shifting problems, knocking under load coming from the engine’s insides, stuff like this suggests that it’s time to unload it. What you’ve described so far is just a good car that’s getting a bit “long in the tooth”.