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janbb's avatar

When do you decide that your car is too much of a money-pit and trade it in?

Asked by janbb (52828points) June 11th, 2010

I have a 10 year old Volvo wagon with about 160,000 miles on it. In the last month, I have put in a new driveshaft, had major brake work done and now the air conditioner needs a new compressor. I’m trying to decide whether to trade it in or spend more money and keep it a few more years. Don’t really want car payments but could afford them if need be. What to do?

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24 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

For me, as soon as the ludicrous thought of using this crosses my mind.

Is the Volvo a diesel? I hate seeing a good Volvo wagon go.. they’re great cars. How’s the engine/trans?

janbb's avatar

Engine/trans seem to be fine at the moment. It’s gasoline, not diesel.

prescottman2008's avatar

Take the cost of repairs in a one year period and compare that to the cost of new car payments, higher insurance rates and probably higher fuel costs since most older cars get better mileage than most newer cars. The other thing to consider besides engine and tranny, which are both replaceable is the uni-body/frame. If the car has sagging doors or cracked strut towers than it’s not worth spending money on mechanical repairs.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

I only get another car if I can no longer find parts or rust has gotten so bad that it’s not worth repairing. I do almost all my maintenance work personally. This probably isn’t very helpful to the average motorist, as my newest car is 38 years old. I buy M-B diesels and keep them forever. Between the two of them is 1.3 million miles.

To me the most important factor is being able to maintain/repair it myself. When the car manufacturers started using throwaway “black box” components, they lost me as a potential customer. Another factor I consider is environmental impact; a large proportion of a cars impact is the energy and resources that went into building it, so a 40–50 year old car getting 35+ mpg on pure biodiesel has less environmental footprint than a new car getting 50 mpg on refined gasoline or B-20.

dpworkin's avatar

If the body is in good shape (e.g. no rust) keep the Volvo. It will be cheaper in the long run. Mine is a 1998 V70R with 180,000 miles on it. My mechanic thinks it has at least another good five years. Just make sure you change the oil every 3,000 miles.

janbb's avatar

Half the body was replaced in 2003 when it got stove in by an oncoming car. No visible rust.

You replace the oil every 3,000? I thought it was done every 10,000 now?

dpworkin's avatar

Some people replace the oil every 10,000 miles, others prefer to keep their engines.

gemiwing's avatar

@janbb Well, pity it’s not a diesel but I would keep the Volvo. Those buggers are such great cars. I would try to find a used/junked compressor and go from there.

Another thing I do is ask my Mom. She’s a great car mechanic- and doesn’t b.s. (You’re getting the parallel here, I’m sure)

janbb's avatar

Husband is thinking of installing the air compressor himself.

I would probably trade in for another Volvo wagon some years newer. Ancillary question: Are they still as good cars since being made by Ford?

gemiwing's avatar

They’ll do. The newer (three years or so) models have a much smaller back space which confounds me up one side and down the other. I prefer 84–04 myself.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Oil change ever 3K miles, as @dpworkin says, or run synthetic oil with a microfiltration system. I also have a prelube pump on both my M-B diesels, the Unimog and the Cummins transplant in my ‘47 Powerwagon; brings the oil pressure up before cranking the engine, saving about 40% on engine wear (bearings and top end). Costs about $500 and almost doubles the time between rebuilds on the engine (commercial fleets have used them for 50+ years).

A/C compressors are one of the few components on modern cars that can still be rebuilt. A local shop just rebuilt the compressor for my ‘61 190D, so a 2000 Volvo’s compressor should be easy.

Buttonstc's avatar

I would say this for few makes of cars, but Volvos just seem to go on forever. I would keep it.

marinelife's avatar

It is funny that we are at this crossroads at the same time, @janbb. We just put over $800 into car repair with another $400 coming along next week. That for me was the limit. The very next repair after that will be a real weighing option regarding getting a new (probably used) car.

CMaz's avatar

When you are paying more for maintenance, then what a new car payment would be.

What @prescottman2008 said. :-)

janbb's avatar

But is there a point at which it’s worth trading in for the value you will get for it as a trade-in or am I far past that point already with a 10 year old car?

dpworkin's avatar

It has essentially no value in trade after 10 years. That’s why you don’t have collision. (You don’t, do you?)

janbb's avatar

Mr janbb is an insurance agency owner – we know about shit like dropping comp and collision.

Buttonstc's avatar

Then I would also assume that he/you realize what a losing proposition it always is to do trade in vs. selling it yourself.

Even at 10 yrs old, you’d be surprised at how many people would be interested in buyng a well maintained Volvo if you put it up on one of those Internet sites devoted to car sales.

Val123's avatar

You can live without AC, can’t you? Other than that, aren’t the repairs rather minor compared to new car payments?

Wish you were here. If you can’t live without AC, my husband, Rick, would love to help your husband put in said compressor. Rick is a helluv a mechanic (f’rill) plus he sells air for a living. He sells compressors to businesses like, oh, Spirit (Boeing), Amazon.com, Tony’s Pizza factory and such. He’d really be a big help. He’d probably sell your husband a 250 hp air compressor for your Volvo, THEN you’d have AC like you wouldn’t believe.

so glad you didn’t post this in general!

meagan's avatar

I think my old focus was a “money pit” because I wasn’t truly happy with it. I didn’t feel safe in such a small car, so I traded it in for a jeep. I’m so much happier and my payments are down. :)

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@meagan I know just how you feel about tiny cars. I wish that I hadn’t given in to my Meghan’s desire for that cute little sports car. She might still be alive today.

janbb's avatar

UPDATE: After being told the car needed a new air compressor for $1200 by the Volvo shop, we took the car back from them and tried a local Russian mechanic. he serviced it and put new freon in and charged us $180. So far, so good. The car – and this mechanic – are keepers.

CMaz's avatar

Russian mechanic? LOL

janbb's avatar

He sounds like Boris from the The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show; it’s very cute.

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