Which car should I sell: 98 Camry or 98 Saab 900

I recently got a great new (used) car from my parents, and my wife and I want to unload one of our current beaters. Both are 10 years old. Both have more than 100K miles on them. Both have pros and cons. The second car would be used mostly for city driving. The new car for longer trips, etc.

The question is: Which car to I sell and which car do I keep?

Car #1. 98 Toyota Camry, 179,000 miles.

- It’s pretty reliable, but has the issues you’d expect in an old car. We recently replaced the clutch, did some front-end work, brakes, etc.

- One of its big problems is with the manual transmission – it’s ornery when you try to downshift…if you’re not careful, you’ll get a grinding going down from 3rd to second. Someone said it might be a problem with the synchromesh. It’s not a big issue now, but don’t know how long we can continue to drive it like this.

- It’s the bottom-of-the line Camry: Power NOTHING. Crank windows, no power locks, no cruise control, etc. AC died and is too expensive to fix. So it’s not the most comfortable car.

- On the plus side, it has a thule roof rack.

Car #2. 98 Saab 900 Four-door hatchback, 138,000 miles.

A nicer car than the Camry – leather seats, power windows, sunroof, etc. More fun to drive. But seems to be less reliable and way more expensive to maintain than the Camry.

- We just replaced the fuel pump when it died on us. $$$

- Last year one of the pulleys in the universal belt (?) seized and the engine died. We got lucky that it was a cheap fix ($300), but the mechanic said it could have been something much worse, which of course makes me expect something worse soon.

- There’s a clunking sound in the right front wheel area when we go over bumps. Maybe a CV joint problem that will have to be addressed.

- No AC, of course. Too expensive to fix.

- On the plus side, it does have snow tires. I live in Maine, so that’s important.

So, that’s a quick recap. I originally thought to sell the Saab, because we might get a little more money for it. (Who wants a beater Camry with power nothing?). Then a friend said, “Why would you keep the car with 40,000 MORE miles on it?” Good point.

Any thoughts from the mechanically inclined? Which seems like the better bet to keep?

(Thanks for reading this essay.)

That’s a tossup. How important is A/C? I might sell them both and get a lower-mile '98 or so Camry with some options (including working A/C).

You keep saying, “too expensive to fix,” which means you don’t take very good care of your cars.

I expect everything on my cars to work. If something doesn’t work, I fix it. AC is not an option, in my opinion. It’s needed for efficient windshield defrosting/defogging, and for comfort during the summer months.

I’ve owned cars with no AC, and that’s fine, but I would never own a car with factory-installed AC that doesn’t work. How can you live without functional AC in your cars? I don’t get it.

Also, you did not tell us what your “new” car is.

Personally, I’d sell them both and look for another second car.

If I had to choose, I’d keep the Camry and sell the Saab.

Here’s one other option - sell the Saab and put the money into getting the Camry fixed up. At least it’s a known vehicle.

Agreed, dump both and get something common with plenty of dealers and junkyard parts such as a compact Ford or Chevrolet. The herd goes for Toyotas and Hondas so you can get a compact Ford or Chev for less money.

We let ourselves get robbed when we traded our perfectly reliable 05 Chev Malibu. They retail for less too.

Just a comment about the air. Body designs are made for air and ventilation is poor with out. I use mine in the winter for moisture control. I feel that it’s as much a safety item as comfort. Fix it in one or trade both. Just a humble opinion. I own Toyotas, but have owned Fords and agree that buying a used Taurus (my preference) and trading at 150k-200k makes a lot of financial sense.

Have somebody check for oil in the transmission. I’m guessing that it’s low. Keep the Saab, it seems to be Maine’s most popuar car brand; right up there with Volvo. You can’t have an accident in my town without hitting one of them. There are a lot of Subarus, but they are usually at the top of a steep driveway. I just can’t get to them.

“I just can’t get to them.”

Maybe that’s because you don’t drive a Subaru.

If you did, you could get to them.

But you recommend; keep the Saab.


Glad you asked. A question in the Maineiac Express: My car just quit running, what should I do. Answer: Put a for sale sign on it for two weeks. If you can’t sell it, start pushing it out to the back field. You won’t get too far but you’ll get far enough. I liked that one after seeing the abandoned old wrecks that haven’t been sent to the junkyard. There are a lot of old semi-running Volvos parked everywhere here. We need more Saabs to balance things out. The Toyota will never stop running, but if it does, somebody always buys it. AND, you can’t lose a State Trooper if you drive a Camry.

“You keep saying, “too expensive to fix,” which means you don’t take very good care of your cars.”

I agree…stay cheap as you are and keep Camry. The 40k more miles argument is bogus. It’s hours of use and maintenance that’s more. Highway miles are easier on a car because they actually have fewer hours of use, mile for mile.

I like your logic.

Thanks for the advice, everyone.

I wish I didn’t have to be cheap, but when you’re faced with replacing a clutch (which I had to do last year) vs. fixing the AC, and don’t have enough money for both, I don’t know what else to do.

I’ll be needing a fuel pump for my 97 900 - what can I expect - how much did you dish out?

I would say dump the Saab, it will become a worse and worse money pit as time goes on. The company is also in BANKRUPTCY, and may not survive. The Camry you can keep fixing up with after market and used parts forever. Toyota is also not about to go out of business.

“The company is also in BANKRUPTCY, and may not survive.”

That’s definitely worth considering. The 900 is no longer built and I’m not sure how many parts on the later generation 9-3 are shared. It may turn out that most replacement parts are surplus anyway. That’s worth checking out, too.

I think I’d keep the Saab. A stripped Camry in good shape is worth almost 25% more than a stripped 900. We know that you aren’t going to get top dollar for either car, but you should get a few hundred more for the Camry than the Saab. You know how you’ve treated both cars, and condition is more important than mileage. Depending on how much you drive the second car, you could get several years out of it.