Hammer Time: Fix or Sell?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Youthful turns to Faithful, which eventually turns to Old Faithful, with the oil leaks to show. You’ve loved Old Faithful. But all around there are hotties and hussies that tempt you. Some are fun. Others are Chryslers. But the moment has come. It’s time to either fix or sell. What to do?

The economist within our minds always says to fix, and with good reason. The overwhelming majority of new and late model car buyers inherit close to $20,000 in debt to solve problems that usually cost less than $1,000. Virtually everything in a car can be replaced with the exception of the dim bulb behind the wheel. Cheap tires can be de-Walmarted. Shocks and struts can be replaced. Even exteriors and interiors can find the fountain of youth, or respectable middle age. Detailing, well chosen recycling centers, eBay, enthusiast groups par excellence. Even the most mundane of vehicles can be given facelifts and upgrades that put Joan River’s face and Dolly Parton’s patooties to shame.

But then there’s divorce. You’ve seen the California lifestyle and want to be a part of it. With the macho guy truck, and blonde cutie convertible beckoning your scantily clad bank account you decide to take the plunge. Congratulations. You’re a stalwart defender of our economic future and will be employing a long line of people the world over. From master craftsmen to master politicians and other over-payed [Ed. Do you mean overpaid?] morons. Even auto critics! You’ve crossed the line to the modern era. But here’s the question: where do you think that line will be for your current ride?

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • Beemernator Beemernator on Sep 03, 2009

    I drive an '02 BMW 530i with a five-on-the-floor. It is showing 120 000 miles and recently needed a whole new cooling system. It is a beautiful car - in the eyes of this beholder anyway. It is all things to me - fast, economical, spacious, quiet, comfortable, hadles brilliantly. I could gog on and on. Thoughts of replacing it have been banished due to the state of the economy. Even if I wanted to, I can't. The big question is - with what? A new car is out of the question, so used it will have to be.The new E60 5-series looks weird, inside and out. The Mercedes E-class comes with high tech stuff like brake-by-wire that could bankrupt a second owner. And they shift gears by themselves. Not for me. The Audi A6 doesn't come in rear wheel drive, although you can shift the gears yourself. Four wheel drive is a waste if you live in a part of the world where it never snows, and who wants front wheel drive in an exec express? That leaves the Lexus GS, but I haven't been able to work up any excitement for it yet. In the light of all of the above, I am keeping my E39.

  • TFC TFC on Sep 03, 2009

    At 20 years and 222k, the car drives you...batty. I just moved to NYC, where owning a car dents both your quality of life and life span. Yes, I could replace the headliner/window regulators/AC/sunroof rails/heater and cruise controls/seat warmers/interior bits, re-stich the seats and get the exterior banged back into tolerance and painted. The amount of time and money into that prospect pulls into new-car territory, but with more headache and less fun shopping. The problem is, as you can glean from that list, there really is no problem. The car goes (even a little fast), stops, turns, and in the five years I've owned it, only left me stranded once. I've done plenty of wrenching along the way, of course. When I do the math, it all cost about the same as a payment on a $0k loan (which would buy a car with it's own problems). So I'm stuck. Someone make me an offer--it's a 1990 Volvo 745ti--and make the decision for me.

  • Gardiner Westbound Gardiner Westbound on Sep 03, 2009

    In the 1950s and 1960s it was rare for an engine to last 100,000-miles. The 1958 VW recommended an oil change and chassis lube at 1,000-mile intervals, there was no oil filter, and suggested an engine overhaul every 62,000-miles. VW durability was held to be legendary! Popular Mechanics' best selling issue ever described how to drive and maintain a car to hit the century mark! A great mystique grew up surrounding break-in oil and procedures. By the 1970s most break-in oil talk had stopped, but long break-ins were still recommended. Many new owners refrained from driving over 30 mph for the first several thousand miles. 1980s metallurgy, manufacturing and lubricant quality had improved so much that achieving 100,000-miles was routine. My 1984 Buick V8 went an extraordinary 300,000-miles before it succumbed to body rust, and oil top-ups were not required! Now 300,000-mile engine life spans are not unusual. One can still prematurely destroy an engine doing really dumb things, like not renewing the fluids at prudent intervals with quality products, but most folks here are likely smarter than that.

  • Adsglobe Adsglobe on Sep 09, 2009

    I agree with Gardiner Westbound, it was rare for an engine to last 100000 miles. Adsglobe http://www.adsglobe.com/autos/sale/