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Which car to ditch?

hello there!

i have 2 cars, both of which are now broken down. my boyfriend and i are trying to decide which car to sell and which to keep.

my car: 1997 Toyota Rav-4 with 222K miles. Recommended service: needs new clutch ($1450), radiator hoses, may need cap and rotor, replace distributor, replace valve cover gasket. Total cost of recommended repairs: $2965. Problems: ignition touchy, oil leaks from valve cover gasket, distributor leaking oil through shaft, possible other leaks, breaks at 30% front, 50% rear, timing belt replaced at 163K miles. Private Party Bluebook in Fair condition: $2810.

boyfriend’s car: 1994 Subaru Loyale with 214K miles. Recommended repairs include: replace plug wires, replace radiator hoses, replace belts, replace headgasket ($1600, includes timing beld, water pump and seals). Total cost of recommended repairs: $1980. Problems include: clunking and rattling probably from struts, needs spark plug wires and radiator hoses, drive belts cracking, head gasket leaking oil, valve cover gasket leaking oil, oil under timing cover, possible other leaks, rear breakes drums neded, coolant leaking at head gasket. On original clutch. Also needs new battery. Private Party Bluebook at Fair condition: $1465.

We have a reliable road trip car, but need to decide which of the two to fix and keep around town or whether to ditch them both.


Ditch the Subaru definitely.

The RAV4 get a 2nd opinion/cost estimate. It seems way high.

I would personally ditch both as they have lived their design life + some.

However the remaining question is how much do you have to spend on your next ride?

we’ve already got the new car, so have no worries about that. we can put a couple thousand into fixing one of the cars. thanks for the advice! my boyfriend might be sad to hear that his subaru might be the one to ditch! thanks!

Keep the Toyota, but add new brakes to your bill because you will need to do them soon.

Your post sounds like one of you has a basic understanding of what’s under the hood. Is it a viable option to repair one yourself (you’ll save hundreds) and then sell the other?

Personally, I’d keep the RAV-4, but I’m biased. In truth, both sound about equal to me…except that the headgasket might push my preference to the RAV-4 even if I were not biased.

I’d keep the Rav4. I have some questions:

If the distributor is replaced, won’t the cap and rotor be replaced at the same time?

Are the radiator hoses soft or do they bulge in places? If not, why do you need new ones?

How much oil do you use? If you don’t add much between changes, then you could delay the valve cover gasket replacement.

if the distributor is replaced, the cap and rotor may come with the parts, and the cap and rotor might not need to be replaced. the cost of that repair has been quoted as $550.

i will take a look at the radiator hoses to see if they’re bulging or soft. what indicates that replacement is needed? the cost of that repair has been quoted as $220.

the rav-4 uses a ton of oil. i put in about a quart a week while driving it regularly, with very infrequent changes. the cost of the valve cover gasked replacement has been quoted as $295. this probably needs to be done, no?

Diana; life is short, and you have two cars that will become bigger and bigger money pits. I would get rid of both so you can enjoy life.

Both cars are the kind I often see mechanics buying for a song and they they fix them up in their spare time with discount new or used parts. Neither you or your boyfriend fit that category.

As mentioned the remaining life of both is limited, and you are postponing the inevitable by a year or so if you fix either one.

i like the perspective! life is short.

The cap and rotor typically won’t come with the distributor, but for the $10 extra it isn’t worth not changing it. The gap between the cap contact and the rotor contact erodes and becomes carbon coated over time due to the arc that occurs as they jump th evoltage from one to the other, and that alone makes it a routine replacement part.

A ton of oil? A quart a week? Before making a decision it may be wise to do a compression test. If my guess is right the compression will be low and perhaps uneven between cylinders. Worn out rings and cylinders allow more combustion gasses to blow past the rings and that can elevate crankcase pressures and force oil out tired valve cover gaskets and seals, as well as (of course) allowing excess oil to remain on the cylinder walls and be burned. In short, the inside of the engine is probably worn out.

Doc’s probably right. Both vehicles have probably seen their best days already.They’re probably both tired.

My vote would be for the Toyota if you are going to keep one of them.

Any chance these oil leaks could be caused by a stuck PCV valve? A stuck PCV can allow the crankcase to pressure up and force oil to leak where it might not normally. Inspecting the PCV should always be the first step on a multiple oil leak problem and PCVs are dirt cheap.

At some point when a car hits high miles it’s worthwhile to start hitting eBay or Craisglist up for parts. A quick look at eBay shows a number of distributors on there from about 30 bucks and up.

You might price the clutch job around also. That seems high to me but could be about right if you live in a high labor rate area. (usually the east and west coasts)

Used or reman dist. for the right price, get the clutch job down a bit, and I’d say keep the Toyota.

As to the brakes, 30-50% will get you by for a long time on a car that sees secondary use so I would consider that a non-issue. Just my opinion and hope it helps.