VW Golf

my 2002 VW Golf with 75000 miles on it, seems to be on its last legs already. Hmm… The spedometer needle is bouncing (to fix is estimated at 1600) the radio has gone to total static (360), the engine light is on, which may be the catalytic converter (3000), and the rear brakes are shot (650). Should I give up and get something else or is this worth it?

Definitely price these jobs around. Those prices are very high and it’s very possible you can get all of these things repaired for far less than the prices you quote.

You might also drop by a local AutoZone and have them pull the codes for you. They will do this for you free. Post any results back here for further discussion. Maybe you need converters, maybe not.

I believe the converter is under warranty. As for the others get a second opinion and estimate. Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car. They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies. They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent.

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee. 

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic.

If the catalytic converter is not under warranty, an independent exhaust shop will probably beat the $3000 price. I think an electronic store (e.g. Best Buys) could arrange the installation of a new after-market radio for a lot less than $360. You might check with an independent tire dealer who does brake and alignment work for an estimate on the brakes. One of these shops may be able to recommend a place that could repair the speedometer. Obviously, you need to take care of the brakes ASAP and have the engine problem resolved that is causing the light to go on. You may be able to live without the radio and be able to tolerate the speedometer needle bouncing. If your VW has a tachometer that works, you can calibrate this by having someone drive ahead of you at different speeds and note the rpm indicated on the teachometer. My son used this technique in a pick-up truck he had in which the speedometer didn’t work. I used to ride home from college in a commercial over-the road bus that didn’t have a speedometer. The tachometer was set up to indicate the speed of the bus depending on the gear that the bus was in.

Catalytic converter is part of the emissions system and is covered by federal emissions warranty for 80,000 miles and there is no deductible. If your repair shop did not tell you this then they are scam artists and you should never go there again.