When is it time to get rid of the car?

We have a 2002 Audi A4. It has 106K miles on it, but over the past year we?ve spent more on repairing it than we would have spent on a monthly payment for a new car

We had a $2K repair in October 2009 where we had to replace the tires and something related to the wheels/struts (sorry, I know that?s not very technical), and then we had routine timing belt and water pump replacement in May. However since August we?ve also had new front brakes put in, a new radiator fan and when I took it in yesterday they told me one of the front axel boots needs to be rebuilt.

This is in addition to an Audi related error that causes a spark plug malfunction, which we?ve had covered by Audi because it?s their error. This model is also notorious for having electrical problems, including a malfunctioning check engine light because the code never properly resets.

I?d love any advice on whether to consider this the breaking point when we give up and get something new. I don’t want a car payment, but with what we’ve spent the past year, we might as well have bought a new car a year ago. Our mentioned that while we’ve fixed a lot, there is still a lot that can go wrong. I asked him whether he would keep it and he said personally ? yes. But that was with the caveat that he can fix it himself. He also mentioned that the upper plenum wasn?t working properly and that while it?s not an issue right now, when it does go it will be a substantial amount of money to repair it.

I welcome any advice. Thanks!

If you were driving a 2002 Honda Accord, or Civic, Toyota Camry, or Corolla you wouldn’t be ready to dump the car. The items you’ve replaced on the Audi are pretty standard for an '02 car with 106K miles. It is just that Audi repairs are more expensive and more frequent then many other cars.

If you’ve had it with the Audi, sell it now for a decent price and buy something less exotic and less expensive to maintain and repair.

That’s a little bit of overgeneralization, don’t you think? I know some Toyota owners who desperately want to get rid of their cars at that age, though they are the exception… but most cars, properly maintained, would be nowhere near ready to “dump” at just 8 years old, even if they aren’t Toyotas or Hondas.

Only the radiator fan, axle boots, and the warrantied electrical problem would I really describe as repairs from that list he gave… But new tires and a strut repair on a Camry/Accord/Corolla/Civic can also approach near $2,000, depending on who does the work ($400 for tires leaves $400 per corner if all four need work, and that doesn’t leave too much for labor on these cars if you’re replacing struts and mounts, for instance)

Most of the items you complain about are maintenance and would be needed on just about any car at this time. The only item you mentioned that is not maintenance is the fan. You have another 100,000 miles on the timing belt and probably another 100,000 miles on the struts (it appears they were replaced). The tires are good for another 60,000 miles or so.

Tires, brakes, CV boots, timing belts, control arm bushings, spark plugs are all wear items. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, etc. are nice luxury cars and more expensive to maintain/repair than most Asian cars. My 1998 BMW 328 has cost about $800 per year in maintenance (oil changes, tires, brakes, etc.) for the past 5 years. Not really that bad IMO.

A lot of people who buy used German luxury cars like the fact that they are buying a 3 - 4 year old car for 40 - 50% of MSRP. A $20,000 used Audi cost $50,000+ when it was new. They still have 100,000 miles of life left in them. It will, however, continue to remain a $50k+ car to maintain. Many people forget this. A friend was very happy when he picked up a low-mileage used 2004 MB CL600 for just under $30,000 – it was a $140,000 car new! When the air suspension went out he was faced with a $7,000 repair bill.


That’s a good point about being a $50K car to maintain - I never thought about that. I have to say it’s been well over $800 per year in maintenance though.

When you spend more to fix the car than it’s worth.
When the motor/transmission dies.
When it’s totaled in a wreck.
When you really aren’t sure if it’ll start for you everyday.
When you get sick of looking at it.

Those are points on which one should think about when they aren’t sure if they wanna keep it or sell it(we get a lot of these questions actually).
I’d say keep it for now, but start looking for a new car. When you finally are ready to get rid of it, then you’ll know what to go for, rather than have the car die on you and you need to rush to the dealership and get something that day. Salesmen can sense desperation

I own a 2002 VW bagged A4 (mine is a diesel) I would guess I have spent less than 1,800 in maintenance, including new tyres, brakes oil changes timing belt etc. it now has about 100,000 miles on it and I expect to keep it a long time yet.

Most of the work I have done myself. Only about $80 was done by the dealer. The brakes were done by a local independent mechanic.

There is no reason your car should not do another 106,000 miles.