CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

When is it time to let go?

Hello all,

I am sorry if this has been asked before, or if there is a thread about this already - I am new here. Any help and guidance you can give me would be much appreciated.

I have an 02 Jetta with 86k in the odometer. It is not aging all that well. Over two years ago I put in a rebuilt transmission (the car was at 70k), and this year I have put in around $2,500 on the car on six visits to the mechanic. I just had to drop it off yesterday to address a coolant leak.

I was hoping to get another year and a half out of this car (86k is not that much) but, with every swipe of the credit card, I am thinking more and more if I would not be better off getting another one. After all, it kind of feels I am making car payments! Plus, I know this model is very unreliable. The only reliable thing about it, in fact, is that something is going to break.

If you would get rid of it, would you do it right after having it fixed or wait until something else goes wrong? I can see pros and cons in both. I guess I need more people’s perspectives.

Thank you so much in advance!

I’d do it right after getting it back from the shop. Meanwhile, pick up a Consumer Reports New Car Preview at the loca l bookstore and start looking at what vehicles have beetr reliability histories.

I’m with MountainBike: get rid of that headache.

The announcer for the Chicago White Sox baseball team would give you this advice: When a Chicago White Sox pitcher strikes out a batter on the opposing team, his words are: “He gone”.
I don’t know about the gender of your VW, but as soon as it comes back from the shop, “It gone”.

Agree, let it go. The auto transmission failure at 70K miles is very common with the Jetta. They also have more than the normal amount of electrical issues. Not sure what the most recent repairs entail.

If you keep it, are you using a VW dealer for these repairs? If so, find an independent shop for the future.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It certainly leads in a certain direction. Uncle Turbo: I use an independent mechanic, who is very good, by the way, honest, and has saved me many bucks. I will not use VW service since they gave me stupid excuses to not installing a catalytic converter that was recalled. The electronics, except for the engine speed sensor in January (very big bucks), are mostly OK. These problems have been mechanical. In any case, thank you everyone!

The above posters said it all; GET RID OF IT!

Bad transmissions will doom any car to a short life. On the other hand, we just got rid of a 1994 Nissan with 135,000 miles on it and a perfect transmission and engine. Excessive rust was our reason for selling.

I would say get rid of it however how much money to spend on your next ride? If <$5000 I would be inclined to hang onto this one.

A safe assumption on a 10yr old vehicle is $1000/year in maintenance/repairs. Many do better but some a lot worst.

Seems like a case of throwing good money after bad and this would be a good time to start looking for a new ride while your current one is still(hopefully) running.

Thanks again, everyone. It really helps. Raj, I would buy new or certified pre-owned. I agree that it would not make a lot of sense to get into a 5k car (it would be just as bad as the one I got now).

Thank you again, as you have helped me getting rid of the nagging feeling (you know the “well, it still runs, and the repairs are still less than a car payment”).

Been there, done that. Once a car continues to leave you stranded and becomes unreliable, it is time to let it go.
You’re doing the right thing.