When is enough, enough?

I have a 2001 Camry with 150,000 miles. I just got a new cadalytic converter, the front of the cadalytic converter that hooks to the engine (has a lot of arms), and a new timing belt (second one). When should I just say it’s not worth it and trade it in? Am i a sucker for putting money into this car? By the way, I also just spent $800 on brakes, but i guess that’s a user part.

You’ve had routine maintenance performed. Was that so unexpected? The only thing a little odd is $800 for a brake job. That wasn’t part of a wallet vacuuming service, was it?

you didnt mention it, but how much have you put into this car (in repairs or maintainence) in the last couple of years?

how much do you pay in payments per month?

what is it worth to you to have NO payments?

These are all normal maintenance items. The $800 brake job suggests to me that you may want to start asking all your acquaintances for references for a reputable privately owned shop.

Timing belts and brakes are maintenance items like oil changes. The converter can be considered much the same. Think back. How much have you spent on the car since it was paid off? How much would you have paid in payments for a new car? … OK now you should feel better. :slight_smile:

When the total monthly cost per year equals that of your car payments

or, you get tired of the car and just want a new one

Call me old school but I don’t consider an exhaust manifold a routine or normal maintenance item.

Ask this question again when you get to 250,000 miles. All you’ve done is routine maintenance (except for that exhaust manifold, what’s up with that?). If you don’t like doing that, go spend $30K on a new car. But first, ask yourself, “Which is cheaper, a few thousand for maintenance/repair, or $30K for a new car?”

Are you paying a Toyota dealer for all of this work? I can’t imagine how else you could have an $800 brake job.

The car will be OK to keep. If you have never changed the transmission fluid on an automatic, you might chicken out and sell the car, but it could still run to 250,000 miles without a failure. If you have luck, press it. Hey, just the 30,000 mile maintenance on a newer car just kills some owners at over $400 sometimes. They always think that somebody should tell them that before they buy the car. Don’t sell it before you wear out the brakes anyway!

Timing belts are normal maintenance items just like brakes. I agree that 800 might be a bit high, but none of us know what was replaced or who done it. Front and rear, calipers here and there, ABS master cylinder, etc. can all add up pretty quickly and that’s just the parts.

The converter, if it was legitimately bad, might have failed due to outside reasons; running rough at one time, overheating, or whatever.
It’s unclear to me if the exhaust manifold or a header pipe was replaced.
Normally these are good for the life of the car, but if the OP lives in a rust belt state or has driven through deep water, which then splashed upon an exhaust manifold, it would be easy for a manifold to crack when cold water hit it.

At this point, and considering the lack of detailed info, I don’t consider the vehicle a heap or trouble-prone. Drive on IMHO.

As Clic & Clac have pointed out many times, maintaining and repairing a basically good car like the Camry is always cheaper than constantly buying new cars. Most of the items you mention are expected maintenance items. Smart car owners have this work done by reputable specialty shops or general repair shops with well qualified mechanics, and only use the dealer for warranty items. The decision to keep the car will be based on: 1) Is the body sound?, 2) Are the engine, transmission and other expensive items in good condition?, and 3) Can you have the car out of service every now & then? If you compare new car payments and the additional insurance cost of a new car with your average monthly repair costs, you will almost always come out ahead by keeping the car. My sister is an accountant and her family (who own 2 Toyotas) buys one new Toyota every 7 to 8 years; the old one is driven into the ground as a second car, This way they get full use out of each car. The old one at 14 to 16 years when retired,is usually well rusted, but still reliable.

This method of ownership only works if parts and service are readily available, and Toyotas can be serviced almost anywhere.

Docnick, I defy you to find as many Toyota dealers almost anywhere as Chevrolet dealers as an example. The nearest Toytota dealer to our little town in central Wisconsin is about 35 miles. We have a Chevrolet dealer immediately available. That is typical of what I see when I travel.

About running your only car into the ground: If you have no money, then that is OK; do it. If your money is limited and you have other more important interests, then keep the old buggy. On the other hand, if you have the money for a new car, get it and enjoy your travel rather than worry about what is going to break next and where the nearest Toyota dealer is located. Click and Clack are correct about saving money but that is not always the right thing to do.

To the OP: Next time you might want to consider a car without one of those rubber timing belt abominations.

Appreciate your comments, Wha Who. I stressed that smart owners don’t use the dealer for service except for warranty when the car is relatively new. Dealer service on an old car will make the ownership uneconomic. The indepent garage has lower labor cost, and can shop around for parts. Some trim parts, for instance, are best obtained from wrecking yard. I would only run a second car “?nto the ground”, since a daily driver to work needs to be very reliable, even with a AAA membership. As previous posters have pointed out, a Japanese car like a Camry can run reliably for at least 300,000 miles. I lived in Asia for 5 years and it was not unusual for Toyota taxis to accumulate 1,000,000 kilometers (620,000 miles approx.)and still provide daily reliable service. Unfortuantely, as cars get older they need more cosmetic upkeep, which you may not want to do on a second car. I kept a Chevy Caprice for 19 years and still got $1200 for it when I sold it. I’m fortunate to live in a dry area, so the body was still presentable. The car at that time was totally reliable.