What should I do? Maintenance or Trade in?

Should I put a new water pump, power steering pump, timing belt, drive belts, rear window power regulator and car wash into my 2002 Ford Focus w/ 135K miles or trade it in? I commute 150 miles per day to work and the car has been perfect so far but needs some maintenance now. How many miles are these cars good for? I am going to fix the window but the rest could be the responsibility of the next owner. It still runs great, you just have to use about a pint of power steering every week. I can probably do all the repairs myself but would have to buy the parts. Is it worth the investment or is the normal expected life only 150K anyway?

Any feedback would be helpful.

Make sure it’s the power steering pump that’s leaking. It could be a hose. Clean everything up and then spray some talcum powder on the pump and connections and see if you can tell where the leak is coming from. The other stuff is routine maintenance. Without it your car is worth, what? $3,000? Maybe? A new car is going to be $15,000. So you decide.

Are you asking if you should do these repairs before you turn the car in, or turn it in “as is”? Or, are you asking if you should do the maintenance and repairs and keep driving it for awhile more?

It sounds like its been a good car. Keeping up with the maintenance should allow you to get well over 200K miles from it. It will need some repairs over the next few years but that is still much less than the monthly loan or lease payments will be on a new car.

If you elect to turn the car it I’d skip the repairs, you won’t get your money back if you trade it into a dealer. If you plan to sell the car privately then I’d at least fix the leak in the power steering.

Seems like the repairs would cost you less than a new car. Now is the rest of the car in decent shape? Is this a manual or automatic? Oh by the way you can just wait until it rains and skip the car wash!

A car that is not abused and well-maintained can easily go 300k miles and a lot more.
Based on your comments, the fact the timing belt should have been replaced thousands of miles and years ago, and about dumping the car off on the next owner it does not sound like your car has been maintained well at all.

This means it’s going to have a shorter lifespan. The repairs you mention are comparatively inexpensive if you do the work yourself so I would say do the repairs and continue on until something major drops dead.

I presume and hope your long daily day commute is highway or backroads. This type of driving is very easy for any car. Given your ~30k/year mileage I would expect another 2-4 years out of this car without serious repair. Maybe an occasional nag but keep what you are doing.

Trade-in value on this car is less than $2000. Keep it as long as it keeps running without a major failure.

Let’s see, cost of a year’s worth of car payments verses the cost of normal maintenance. That timing belt and water pump (the expensive part) is normal maintenance and will not need to be done again for years.

is the normal expected life only 150K Only for those people who don’t do the proper maintenance. For those who do, it is at least twice that.

With the exception of the power steering pump (which may just be a loose connector or a leaking hose) and window regulator. Everything else is normal maintence. There’s no reason not to have the repairs done, as others have said, a properly maintained car should last 250k miles easily.

If the engine and drive train are otherwise running good the work is worth doing.

Even if the PS leak turns out to be the dreded rack leak (blah!) the total cost of bring it back in shape will be well worth it. It’s only when the engine internals get damaged or worn out, the tranny develops problems, old age catches up with the body (read: body rot), or old age and corrosion begin to affect the systems causing brake failures, leaky gas lines, and things like that making the vehicle unsafe or unreliable that the wisdom of keeping the vehicle begins t be questionable.

why do you need new drive belts?
timing belt and water pump will probably run $500~600 at the dealership.
Unless your window is stuck in the down position and you use your windows all the time, you can skip that for now.
Power steering pump is a safety item, fix it

Wow, awesome feedback. After reading everyone’s comments I want to first say thanks for your time. Here is my plan now: First I am going to solve the issue of the PS pump, I did not realize it was a safety issue, now that I think about it of course it is! The fluid is not leaking anywhere on the driveway so…? I am going to clean up all the hoses and road grime tomorrow and see what I can discover and get this issue resolved. Next I am going to have the timing belt changed (the $500-600 estimate someone mentioned was more than I was expecting but I know I have to get it done). After those two tasks I will do the water pump myself and do the window regulator myself too. I have to pass a USMC security guard gate every morning and every guard wants so take a close look inside the car since I have the door panel off and the window is being held up with rope and sticks), it must look like a suicide bomber car to them. My original idea was to find a good deal on a car that got great mileage, I got this Focus with 30K miles and drove it for 100K with no maintenance except changing the oil every 5K miles, that was it. The car has been awesome and I highly recommend this car. The more I think about it I should invest a couple grand in this car and like someone said, I may get another 100K miles out of it. Thanks again everyone, when I run into problems getting this baby all refitted I will see you again. Thanks, VoyagerOne in Sunny Florida

Make sure that when the timing belt/water pump job is done that the tensioners are also replaced. This is pretty critical on a 6 digit mileage car and I’m sure the shop will do this.

A few other things you should consider are regular fuel filter changes and transmisson fluid changes if this has not been done. Partially clogged fuel filters, even on a good running car, can shorten fuel pump life.
And transmission fluid changes are the absolute cheapest transmisson insurance you can buy since a transmission replacement is often the kiss of death for an older, high mileage car; economically speaking.
(No transmission flushing only; make sure it involves a pan drop and filter change.)

Stay on top of it and I don’t see a problem with this car easily going another 100k miles and beyond.

They usually replace the water pump with the timing belt because on most cars the timing belt drives the water pump, so they’ve already done 90% of the job of replacing the water pump when they take the timing belt off. It’s basically just the part cost and maybe an extra 15 minutes of labor.

There are some cars where the water pump is not driven by the timing belt, but I don’t know about yours. Anyway, just a heads up that you probably want the shop to do the water pump with the timing belt, instead of doing it yourself.

You pass a USMC guard post every morning?

If you’re serving, please accept my sincere thanks.

The $500~600 is a rough estimate based on what it cost me to have my Civic’s done a couple years ago at the dealership.
While some may chide me for it, I’d recommend a dealership do the TB/WP work as they’ll have the correct tools for the job and do this sort of thing often, so they’ll be more likely to change the tensioners and such than some independents would.
Also, plan to leave it overnight wherever you take it, as they’ll want to work on a cool engine to change everything, ask for a loaner if possible if you need your vehicle that badly

Since the advice has been to keep it, I will have to say to get rid of it. Sometimes, the sensible advice turns out to be the worst. You had a great car but the future is always uncertain.

Let’s look at it this way.

You can sell it as is for X dollars or you can fix it and sell it for X dollars plus something more.

So one way or another you are going to pay for the needed repairs (unless you junk the car or the buyer does not know about the needed repairs - unlikely if you are trading it in.) So unless you are junking the car, you will be paying for the cost of the repairs one way or another.

Trade-in value does not really mean much as the Trade-in value is only part of a deal and the dealer will increase the trade-in value [while increasing the sale price to whatever he things will confuse you more and convince you to buy.]

If is your choice if you are willing to pay the added cost of a new car to get a new car or you want to pay the cost of repairs now. New car may prove more reliable and more fun. You current car will likely be less expensive in the long run. New cars are expensive.