Author Topic: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.  (Read 2860 times)

FeelingRosie

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Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« on: December 26, 2015, 10:54:35 PM »
I have a 1999 Pontiac Bonneville. Thankfully it's paid off, as it was a wedding gift from my in-laws. About a week ago, I noticed that it started making a funny noise. I thought it might be the power steering. We took it to Jiffy Lube to get an oil change and they said the power steering fluid was leaking. So, I took it to my mechanic who said the power steering system was leaking in 3 different places and it would cost about $970 dollars to fix it and another $50 for an alignment afterward.

I'm not sure I can justify the cost of fixing it. My husband and I both walk or bike to work everyday and we live close enough to a grocery store. We do use it every week to pick up milk from a local farmer every week and occasional trips to Portland or the Coast. Also, picking u-pick berries in the summer.

What is the best thing to do with the car? It's in good condition, but with the power steering issues I think I can only get about $600. I'm not sure we could go completely car-free. If we just sold it and didn't buy another car, we might have to rent a car sometimes, but I think that would get expensive.

Update:
Gas is about 25 mph. We drive so inconsistently though, I'm not sure how much we actually pay in gas.
Registration is $77 every 2 years.
We pay about $40 per month in insurance.
About $120 per year for oil and filter changes.
Parking is free

I'm thinking we would probably end up renting a car one weekend a month to go to Portland.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 01:03:49 AM by FeelingRosie »

SwordGuy

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2015, 11:45:57 PM »
Do the math, including ALL the numbers.  Gas, tags, title, insurance, parking, routine maintenance, etc.  Then figure out how often you would need to rent  a car or hire a taxi.


Clean Shaven

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2015, 07:59:17 AM »
Power steering fluid is cheap. How fast is it leaking out?  Unless you're losing all of it very fast (like draining dry in a week), just keep refilling it. Buy some cheap stuff at Walmart with a stop leak additive included, check fluid level frequently. 

sisto

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2015, 12:40:47 PM »
Power steering fluid is cheap. How fast is it leaking out?  Unless you're losing all of it very fast (like draining dry in a week), just keep refilling it. Buy some cheap stuff at Walmart with a stop leak additive included, check fluid level frequently.
This was my exact thought! Just keep some fluid on hand and drive the car until the pump dies, but most likely something else will break on the car before that happens. You could also consider going to a pick-n-pull to get a replacement pump off another vehicle and install it yourself. $20 for a manual, probably not too much for the part, then you just need to pay for the alignment.

pbkmaine

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2015, 12:57:36 PM »
Also, JiffyLube is not the right place to get a price quote. Ask around for a  good, reasonable mechanic.


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Glenstache

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2015, 04:47:04 PM »
The cost of ownership is so low on this car at this point, there might not be any savings with renting occasionally, and is less convenient for spontaneous trips.

Agree that Jiffy Lube is not the place for reliable car info. I don't even go to them for oil changes as they upsell everything, and it is annoying.

If you are at all mechanically inclined, you can reduce the cost of your oil/filter changes to under $20 per 5000 miles. It sounds like you drive less than 10k miles/year, so this could be reduced to about $40/year plus about $20 for the tools you would need ($50 if you want the easiest possible setup with a Fumoto valve). Once you know how to change oil, it takes less time to do it yourself than to fuss with the oil change places.

Where is the power steering leaking from? Is it bad hoses or actual failure of the power steering unit? Hoses are easy to replace and the vehicle is at an age where hoses could be marginal. Replacing the power steering pump is more complicated, but with patience and a manual should be doable. YouTube videos are great for this. Looks like you can pick up a cheapo replacement pump for about $40-$50. Given the marginal value of the vehicle, you have a good opportunity to learn something new with marginal risk. Or, if it is a slow leak, then limping it along may be a good option also.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2015, 05:20:05 PM by Glenstache »

The Mobile Mustachian

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2015, 04:55:00 PM »
Try a bottle of Lucas Power Steering Stop Leak. I've used it before successfully to prolong the life of my cars and you can check out the reviews. It seals small leaks for about a year, in my experience. Runs about $12 - 14.

Uturn

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2015, 06:43:38 PM »
Do you not know anyone who can work on cars?  Since the mechanic said you would need an alignment, I'm assuming the rack is bad.  Google says the pump is about $60, lines about $120, and a new rack is $170.  This is pretty much a new system. 

grundomatic

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Re: Help! I need advice about what to do with my car.
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2015, 08:42:38 AM »
Keep the car and find a way to fix it or get it fixed cheaper.

To me it sounds like you are right where you need to be based on the car you have and how you use it.