I am currently facing a conundrum. I own (as of April) a 1999 Saturn SL 4 door automatic with 160,000 miles on it. Since April, I have replaced the shocks and struts and rebuilt the transmission. I found out today that the head gasket needs to be repaired, which will run me over a thousand dollars. Is it worth it? Does anyone have advice on when enough is enough? Or are there any experiences out there of a Saturn that ran forever? Thanks!
Struts are normal wear. You can’t count normal wear items when evaluating whether a car has reached it’s twilight years.
The tranny would be an anomolie. But it’s already fixed.
The headgasket on that car is also not abnormal.
The real things that will determine whether it’s worth it is the overall condition of the rest of the vehicle, whether it meets your needs (consider reliability a need also), and whether you like the car or not. Whether breaking down is likely leave you stuck in a dangerous neighborhood should also be a consideration. You will need to fix this occasionally.
Remember that the book value and the real value are different. My old '89 Toyota pickup with 338,000 miles had virtually no book value, but it met my needs perfectly and was invaluable to me. I’d have spent $1,000 to fix it if needed. Unfortunately it got totalled.
My first inclination is to say, “The time has come,” but after reading your post a few more times I’m reconsidering.
I can’t see the car, so I can’t assess its overall condition. The transmission rebuild is a bit scary, and at 160k miles I’d normally say, “Skip it,” if you asked about head gasket replacement, but I get the impression you are fond of this car, and you want to keep it.
Only you can decide whether or not a certain repair is “worth it” to you.
I’d have balked at the transmission rebuild, and I’d give up completely if they told me my Saturn, at 160K miles, needed a new head gasket.
It’s your car, and your money. Do whatever you think is best.
The job used to cost about $1,300 on the Central Coast of Ca. If you do not end up needing a remanufactured engine. If they have to get a new radiator, they will charge you about $450 more. The repair is definitely more expensive than the value of the car. Some people can’t afford to buy a new car or a used one. Your situation seems to be in better financial condition. The car could cost you a lot more. It could also run good after the new head is installed. So, I will, as always, recommend that you give up on it even if it can be fixed; especially if the radiator has never been changed. You have 160,000 miles on almost every part of the car.