To trade (my car) or not to trade

I am hoping that cleverer people than me can guide me. My 2001 corolla (mileage ~ 200K) seems to be possessed by gremlins nowadays. It burns oil, recently the safety latch on the hood failed (hood popped open on the expressway - that was scary), and now the electric windows only work intermittently, and I think I can hear the ball bearings in one of the rear wheels banging against each other, possibly indicating Universal Joint or CV joint needs to be replaced? When the safety latch failed, I kind of thought maybe it was a sign that I should trade the car for something slightly newer and less prone to gremlin interference. The guys that fixed the car after that were insistent that the car would last several more years (“Toyotas run forever!”), but I admit to starting to be a little afraid of the car. Should I: pay out on the various expenses right now, and be confident that the car really does have a lot of miles left in it, or should I go ahead and start shopping for the next new-to-me car? With many thanks for your thoughts,

How much oil does it burn? I have to add 1 quart every 400 miles, but I’m going to keep driving it. Did you have the oil changed regularly?

Find out what’s making the noise. Get a quote from the mechanic. Do it soon, it could be a safety issue.

I’ll take it if you don’t want it, my car was built in 1989.

If you’re getting a new car, don’t trade it in. Just sell it. You’ll come out ahead.

You are assuming the rubbing noise is a big deal. It could be something minor, such as build up on a brake caliper rubbing on a brake shield. The safety latch failure on the hood; is that due the hood not being latched properly in the first place? The secondary “safety” latch isn’t made strong enough to hold up to expressway speeds. The flapping of the hood is supposed to let the driver see they need to stop and push the hood down all the way. If you see significant puffs of blue smoke out the tailpipe your motor might need a rebuild. But, if you are just adding some oil between oil changes and passing smog tests all could be fine.

If you are ready for a new car, buy one. Your Corolla might be OK and be a good car for the next owner. I’d shop for a brand new car. Buying a “new to you” used car could have as many problems as your current Corolla, you just won’t know it until after you own it for awhile. Corolla’s are pretty cheap to repair, and do last. Perhaps taking your Corolla somewhere for a good interior and exterior detailing will make it look almost new and you’ll feel better about the car.

Selling your vehicle makes a lot more sense than trading it. Besides, there are a lot of people out there looking for a Corolla even with minor problems. You will have no problem at all selling it so get that ad ready.

You sweet sweet people - I kind of thought that no one would answer. Thank you all for your thoughts.

I am adding 2-3 quarts between oil changes, and changing the oil every 5000 miles (consistently at this interval).

The hood didn’t flap at all (I did think it was properly latched - I had just added oil (3 quarts) - but I dropped the hood to close it like I always have, and it seemed latched and didn’t wiggle or flap). There was no warning about the hood as I drove the smaller streets leading to the expressway.

You’re right that I am assuming the rubbing noise (I would characterize it more as a “knocking” which keeps pace with the tire speed) is a big deal; I’ve got an appointment to get it looked at.

The hood thing really scared me, and I am afraid of it happening again. Prior to that, this car has been very cheap to maintain, very reliable, and I can’t complain at all about the gas mileage!

By the way, the body shop that fixed the hood/windshield/etc., threw in a paint touchup for the entire car, so it does look really good at the moment. That was nice.

Thanks again for your comments!

Your oil usage is not unusual, but you need to check it more frequently. That is if you added 3 qts of oil all at once. That means you were only down to one quart.

With that mileage and issues that have not been addressed, the car is not worth much. so I agree, fix whatever needed for safety (the wheel) and drive it until it stops. If the car is not safe for your use or does not meet your need any more, then you need another car.

I wouldn’t be afraid of the car just yet…2-3 quarts between oil changes on a car with 200k really isn’t bad at all. If your list of mechanical issues is complete, that’s a pretty short list for car of that age/miles. And, if it’s in decent cosmetic shape, that’s a plus. Unless you’re planning on a significant upgrade with the next car, you’re trading known issues for a whole batch of unknowns. Definitely fix the rear wheel noise though.

BTW, you mentioned adding 3 quarts of oil–that’s a little scary. Get in the habit of checking the oil often, perhaps at every other fuel stop. Add small amounts of oil as necessary. With the engine 3 quarts low, the 1-2 quarts that are left are working hard to lubricate the engine.

You do need to check the oil level more often and get used to adding 1/2 to 1 qt to return the level to full. When you get 2 - 3 qts low the oil remaining gets used up fast and the level drops fast. Keep the oil level near full between changes and you might need to add only a qt or perhaps 2.

When closing the hood, give is a solid push to close. Then reach under the lip of the hood and give it a tug back up. That way you can feel more confident that the hood is securely latched.

The oil usage is perfectly acceptable.

As to the rear end noise, you don"t have U-joints or CV joints in the rear on that car. You have a hub & bearing assembly that holds the rear wheels on. The “banging” might be as simple as a rubber antisway bar bushing. These can and do make knowcking noises after 10 years and 200,000 miles of having a metal bar twist inside of them. Get the noise checked out, but I doubt of it’s serious.

If the hood has left you really nervous, you can have hood pins installed (like in the tatached link). They’ll look a bit like a teenager trying to make the car look like a race car, but they might provide a sense of security.

The intermittany electric windows might be the most difficult problem here. They might be a sign of a wiring problem. Typically that’ll develop where the wiring harness goes through the passages between the body and the door, where it flexes. Since you’ve suggested that the problem is affecting all the windows, it’s probably at the driver’s door.

If it were me, I’d fix the existing problems, install some hood pins for a sense of absolute security, and keep the car. The issues you describe do NOT suggest that the car is worn out or that it’s facing huge repairs in the near future.