Piston Slap: When is the Olds Too Old?
TTAC commentator supremebrougham writes,
For the first time in a long time, I am 100% debt free, and it feels great! It’s so great that I have decided to try and keep my car going for a while yet, instead of trading it for a new one.
Last December I found a 2001 Oldsmobile Alero GL2, with the 3.4 liter V6. The miles weren’t too bad (104k) and the price was right. The previous owner, a girl from what I can tell, had the car for around eight years and while she didn’t drive it far, she didn’t take very good care of it. It was scratched up pretty bad, and she smoked in it and burned parts of the interior. However, the car ran great. Since I got it I have replaced a power window motor, all four struts and tires, both front wheel hubs and bearings, the rear defrost module the O2 sensor, and had it tuned up. I replaced a lot of the interior parts that were burned, and had the paint buffed out.
I love the car, and have so far put almost 12000 miles on it, and have taken it on several long trips. I’m thinking of having some of the rust spots fixed soon. But here’s where my question comes in…with the car now being thirteen years old, and about to roll over 116k, what should I be concerned with as far as any potential problems that might arise, and when should I just call it enough and not invest any more money into it. I really enjoy driving it, and I get lots of compliments on it. Plus, I am LOVING not having a car payment! I took it to a couple of dealers last month just for giggles to see what they thought it was worth. One wouldn’t even make me an offer, said “it’s just an old car”, and the other one said $1500. I could never replace it with something equivalent at that price!
Thanks in advance,
Before I go any further, I’d like to tell everyone that Richard is the broughamiest of Brougham fans: and his well curated, maturely moderated Facebook page proves it. Join The Brougham Society now! That said, you’d want to keep the Olds running as long as possible, as the only truly broughamy things you’d replace it with are Panthers, luxury SUVs/trucks or certain South Korean sedans (DAT GRANDEUR) to do a fine job taking the reigns from defunct American brands that you (and I) so truly adore.
Far and away the worst thing that kills high mileage vehicles is rust. Pouring water in all seams/folds and letting it freeze out the road salt is one idea I do like (in theory) but people have tried other avenues (undercarriage coatings, like used oil) for the same desired effect.
Rust aside, the little things that drive you nuts will eventually make you sick of the car. Or as I once said to a similar query, do you own the car, or does the car own you? Read that link for more answers to your query.
Now you are a handy guy, I bet you can procure parts on the cheap and install some of them yourself. And this isn’t a high mile European car needing minor repairs that cost more than the value of said whip. But still…there’s a moment when you will want a newer car.
Or need a newer car.
- When you have a job that demands a 100% reliable mode of transport, lest you get fired/backstabbed in office politics.
- When the time value of money is more valuable than any love of old cars and their quirky habits.
- When you meet a great girl, and you don’t want to look like a fool when your hooptie breaks down.
- When you have kids and are horrified at the mere thought of being stranded somewhere and helpless. Even worse, your family being stranded and you aren’t there to help.
All valid reasons to give up, and make that car payment. Now the Olds is a good car, and it will always do its best for you. At some point, well, that simply won’t be good enough.
Best of luck with that.
[Image provided by reader]
Send your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.
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