Author Topic: 2005 Ford Freestyle needs kind of major repairs. Is it time to replace it?  (Read 6794 times)

chilliepepper

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The A/C compressor is failing continuously and the mechanic quoted $1300 to fix it.

Also, the engine sometimes, at random intervals, doesn't start. I mean...it has EVENTUALLY started every time, but not without an extra 10 minutes of trying, waiting, trying some more, and thinking this will be the time that I have to get the car towed and hitchhike home with my 3 kids. It's our only car, so it's not like hub can come rescue us. The mechanic hasn't been able to recreate the problem, so we're kind of stuck with this issue until he figures out what it is. However, he did say that once we figure that out, he's pretty certain that it won't be a major expense.

This car has 110k miles on it. Edmunds.com's calculator gives me a trade-in value of $1637 in "rough" condition (this would be if we don't fix the A/C), $1851 for "average," and $2447 for "clean" (this would obviously only be the condition if we fix the A/C, and even then I'm not sure it would qualify).

The mechanic says that since the mileage is reasonably low and we don't have any recurring major issues going on, the car is worth keeping. It's unfortunate that the A/C repair is so expensive, but it's still a decent car. He said that if he can figure out the starting problem, he's sure it won't be a major expense to fix. I don't think he's saying this because he needs the business.

The car has been paid off for years, so continuing to drive it saves us a lot of money even if we do have repair expenses from time to time. On the other hand, the comparisons that ask me to compare driving a paid-off car vs. buying a car and making payments...those comparisons seem to break down because we wouldn't finance a car---we would pay cash. On the OTHER other hand, that is a lot of cash to part with, cash that could be invested elsewhere (or squandered on some fancy pants home improvement like fixing up my laundry room so I don't want to vomit when I walk in there).

I have to say, I feel pretty badass driving my 10-year-old car around when all the other schmucks are making payments on their fancy rides. But when is it time, just for the sake of knowing that you WILL get from point A to point B, to give up and trade in the old car?

FWIW, we have 3 kids ages 10, 8 and 4. So while a minivan would be pretty awesome right now, in a few years we might need it less as people grow out of booster seats and such.


Full Beard

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I would keep the car.  $1300 seems a little high for an A/C compressor.  I did a little search for an A/C compressor on http://www.rockauto.com/ and I found one for your vehicle for anywhere between $207 and $267.  You can probably buy the parts from rock auto and then have somebody else install them.  I can't imagine it would be too difficult of a job for an experienced mechanic.  It's probably worth asking for a second opinion from another mechanic.  The other mechanic may also be able to diagnose that other problem you're having. 
« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 04:14:42 PM by Full Beard »

TheThirstyStag

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Definitely get another estimate.  You can expect about $700-800 for this job if you shop around.

In fact, check out the following website for a fair estimate in your area:

http://repairpal.com/estimator


I will say, though, having done this type of repair myself, that A/C work is always more involved than it seems.  A new compressor might only run you $300, but any time you break into the A/C system you have a lot more work to do.  The refrigerant needs to be properly evacuated in an environmentally friendly way (something a DIYer won't likely do, but a shop is legally obligated to).  New hardware is usually needed anytime you open the system, as most connections are made with single use crush washers.  Then it has to be properly recharged with a vacuum unit, which is more time for a shop. 

Expect labor to cost more than parts for this job, but you should still look to pay no more than $800 I think. 

caseyzee

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It sounds to me like the car not starting issue is just a starter going bad.  Not to expensive (maybe $200?), but you want to get it done because eventually it will get bad enough that your car just won't start, no matter how many times you crank it.

I had a similar issue with the a/c in my 2000 minivan.  Bad compressor, I only paid 200 bucks for the car, didn't seem like a good idea to fix it.  Then one 100 degree day I got stuck in traffic and I swear I had heat stroke, lol.  So I had it done the next week.  It cost $1100 4 years ago.  I've never regretted it!  I love, love to blast cold air out on a hot day.   

Good luck with your decision.
-Casey

Exflyboy

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Hang on with that starter diagnosis.. we don't know the symptoms.

Is the engine cranking over at what sounds like the normal speed when trying to start?.. If so its definitely NOT the starter!

Ok if it doesn't crank at the right seed, then yes it could be the starter, or a bad connection between a battery cable or the battery.. all pretty simple to resolve.

If the engine is cranking at the normal speed.. well then the first question is do you hear the fuel pump (a very quiet whirring sound when you turn the key to the run position, BEFORE you turn the key one more notch to engage the starter.. that's normally how it works).. if not then it is possibly the fuel pump relay not engaging the fuel pump.

It could also be the crank or cam position sensor breaking down and going intermittent... These often don't throw a Check engine light code.

The problem with intermittent problems is you almost have to wait for the damn thing to break down completely in order to find the problem.

But really none of these are problems beyond the slightly above average home mechanic... if you happen to be one, or know one..:)

The AC compressor.. easy, just get a new/rebuilt compressor.. will take an hour to install it and go get your AC system vacuumed down and refilled for $60.

These are not reasons to replace an otherwise good car.

« Last Edit: June 15, 2015, 08:29:01 PM by Exflyboy »

abiteveryday

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I'm not a mechanic, just offering anecdata, but that sounds exactly like the description of the failing starter in my old Toyota.    It would start normally, except when it didn't, and those times became more frequent.     I took the starter out, has it tested at the parts store, and it was flaky.   New starter back in, never had a problem again.   

Exflyboy

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If it was the starter it will be cranking more slowly...same symptoms as dirty battery terminals.

alsoknownasDean

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It's only a 2005 with only 110,000 miles. Still plenty of life left.

A 2005 car with 110,000 miles is the kind of car Mustachians buy, not trade in for a newer version.

chilliepepper

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It's only a 2005 with only 110,000 miles. Still plenty of life left.

A 2005 car with 110,000 miles is the kind of car Mustachians buy, not trade in for a newer version.

Heheh. I knew you Mustachians could talk me off the ledge. :)

chilliepepper

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Is the engine cranking over at what sounds like the normal speed when trying to start?.. If so its definitely NOT the starter!

Ok if it doesn't crank at the right seed, then yes it could be the starter, or a bad connection between a battery cable or the battery.. all pretty simple to resolve.

If the engine is cranking at the normal speed.. well then the first question is do you hear the fuel pump (a very quiet whirring sound when you turn the key to the run position, BEFORE you turn the key one more notch to engage the starter.. that's normally how it works).. if not then it is possibly the fuel pump relay not engaging the fuel pump.

It could also be the crank or cam position sensor breaking down and going intermittent... These often don't throw a Check engine light code.

Let me give a little more detail. Yes, I think it is cranking at the normal speed. However, sometimes when this happens, I feel like I released the key a bit too soon---if I had just held it in place a bit longer, maybe the thing would have started. But I'm already holding it in the "starting" notch longer than I used to. You know how you normally let it go when you first feel the engine starting to "catch" (that's probably not the right vocabulary for it but I don't know how people say it)? Sometimes it feels like maybe it just didn't completely engage right when I thought it would based on my prior 7 years' experience driving this car.

No...I don't hear the whirring sound that you're talking about. So maybe that is a clue. I'll run that by DH, have him listen, and see what he thinks.

I should say that the check engine light is on. The mechanic said there were codes in the theft system, though. And---this code only showed up after we had to get new keys made due to losing BOTH keys (moral of story: when the mechanic gives you your key back, do NOT put it on the same keyring with your other key and then toss the whole keyring in your luggage when packing for a month long trip) and being 100% carless for over a week. But previously, before the lost key incident, I think he said there was a different code...just can't remember what it was. I'll have to ask him. Whatever it was, it didn't give him enough info to diagnose the problem.

He did give me one "trick" to try. When it happens, release the key, then put the gas pedal to the floor and hold it down. With the gas pedal down, try turning the key again. He said that if that works, he would know it was one thing, and if it doesn't, he would know it wasn't that. Well, I've tried that trick several times. It works...sometimes. But with the last few incidents, even that hasn't worked and I've only been able to start the car after waiting several minutes then trying again.


The AC compressor.. easy, just get a new/rebuilt compressor.. will take an hour to install it and go get your AC system vacuumed down and refilled for $60.


Somehow, this seems entirely too simple to be true. From what I understand, a new compressor doesn't just snap right in to the car. But what do I know? :) )

One more thing I should mention. This vehicle has a recall issue: in the winter, when the temp drops below...oh, 25 or so, some of the doors won't close (this was not an issue for us until we moved from FL to MD).  See http://answers.edmunds.com/question-2005-ford-freestyle-door-latch-freezing-recall-173908.aspx. So here's me, driving my 3 kids to an appointment for which we cannot be late, holding my door closed driving on an icy road. I tried to get the dealership to address it, but they said they can only fix it if they can recreate the issue. The problem is, by the time I drive it to the dealership, the car has warmed up and the doors close just fine. So they're like, "well drop the car off the night before." Yeah, easier said than done when you only have one car and three kids to schlep with you to go drop it off. Besides, with flaky weather like we get here in MD, there's no guarantee the temp will be cold enough the next morning to recreate the issue. I think these people are BSing me...how do I get them to stop it?

But that's not my main issue of concern at the moment. It's really the A/C and the starting thing.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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It's only a 2005 with only 110,000 miles. Still plenty of life left.

A 2005 car with 110,000 miles is the kind of car Mustachians buy, not trade in for a newer version.

Yeah, but they buy 2005 Hondas with 110,000 miles. This sounds like a pretty crap car, especially given the door thing.

alsoknownasDean

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It's only a 2005 with only 110,000 miles. Still plenty of life left.

A 2005 car with 110,000 miles is the kind of car Mustachians buy, not trade in for a newer version.

Yeah, but they buy 2005 Hondas with 110,000 miles. This sounds like a pretty crap car, especially given the door thing.

Maybe, but the stuff needed to get it good again isn't THAT major. It's not like you can't change into third or the engine goes through a litre of oil a week :)

I think these people are BSing me...how do I get them to stop it?

Are there any other dealers/mechanics in your area? Might be worth getting someone else to look at the car.

TheThirstyStag

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He did give me one "trick" to try. When it happens, release the key, then put the gas pedal to the floor and hold it down. With the gas pedal down, try turning the key again. He said that if that works, he would know it was one thing, and if it doesn't, he would know it wasn't that. Well, I've tried that trick several times. It works...sometimes. But with the last few incidents, even that hasn't worked and I've only been able to start the car after waiting several minutes then trying again.


Throttle position sensor?

Retire-Canada

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How hot does it get in the summer where you live?

I had the AC go on my last truck. I just stopped using it and rolled down the windows. If that happened to my current truck I'd do the same thing and ignore it if it was a $1K+ repair.

r3dt4rget

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I've spent like $6k on my shitty 1998 Civic over the years, despite it's value being under $1500. People call me crazy, and throw around the typical "it's cheaper to just buy a new reliable car". But I do the math, and my price per mile is still incredibly low, under $0.15/mile for everything like gas, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc. I highly suggest thinking big picture when it comes to repairs. Sure it sucks to pay $3k to get your 10 year old car fixed, but average that cost out over the next 5 years and it doesn't seem so bad compared to paying for newer car depreciation, taxes, and insurance.

frugaliknowit

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Does the failure to start tend to happen in hot weather or high altitude?  If so, it might be "vapor lock".

MoneyCat

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The Ford Freestyle is basically the wagon version of the Ford Five Hundred, which I believe is based on the rather solid Volvo S60.  You should shop around, do the repairs, and hold onto that car.

Exflyboy

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Does the failure to start tend to happen in hot weather or high altitude?  If so, it might be "vapor lock".

Possible but not very likely. Modern cars put the fuel pumps in the tanks these days. Vapour lock was caused when they used engine driven pumps to suck the hot hot fuel up from the tank. High vapour pressure liquids (like fuel) boil very easily and when you heat them up (pump on the back of a hot engine) .. then suck, the fuel boils immediately and the pump won't pump vapour,.. hence vapour lock.

For the fuel pump in the tank to vapour lock would be very difficult indeed and would require the fuel tank venting system to be plugged... once again not impossible, but in theory the engine would then quit at highway speed.. which it isn't.

So I highly doubt this is the reason.

Exflyboy

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He did give me one "trick" to try. When it happens, release the key, then put the gas pedal to the floor and hold it down. With the gas pedal down, try turning the key again. He said that if that works, he would know it was one thing, and if it doesn't, he would know it wasn't that. Well, I've tried that trick several times. It works...sometimes. But with the last few incidents, even that hasn't worked and I've only been able to start the car after waiting several minutes then trying again.


Throttle position sensor?

Based on what symptoms?.. I think this would cause other issue rather than just not starting.

cautiouspessimist

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It sounds like you need a new dealership. If it's a known recall issue they shouldn't give you any guff about fixing it. Generally for something like that it's a minor parts issue and they should just be able (and willing) to fix it.

Exflyboy

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Is the engine cranking over at what sounds like the normal speed when trying to start?.. If so its definitely NOT the starter!

Ok if it doesn't crank at the right seed, then yes it could be the starter, or a bad connection between a battery cable or the battery.. all pretty simple to resolve.

If the engine is cranking at the normal speed.. well then the first question is do you hear the fuel pump (a very quiet whirring sound when you turn the key to the run position, BEFORE you turn the key one more notch to engage the starter.. that's normally how it works).. if not then it is possibly the fuel pump relay not engaging the fuel pump.

It could also be the crank or cam position sensor breaking down and going intermittent... These often don't throw a Check engine light code.

Let me give a little more detail. Yes, I think it is cranking at the normal speed. However, sometimes when this happens, I feel like I released the key a bit too soon---if I had just held it in place a bit longer, maybe the thing would have started. But I'm already holding it in the "starting" notch longer than I used to. You know how you normally let it go when you first feel the engine starting to "catch" (that's probably not the right vocabulary for it but I don't know how people say it)? Sometimes it feels like maybe it just didn't completely engage right when I thought it would based on my prior 7 years' experience driving this car.

No...I don't hear the whirring sound that you're talking about. So maybe that is a clue. I'll run that by DH, have him listen, and see what he thinks.

I should say that the check engine light is on. The mechanic said there were codes in the theft system, though. And---this code only showed up after we had to get new keys made due to losing BOTH keys (moral of story: when the mechanic gives you your key back, do NOT put it on the same keyring with your other key and then toss the whole keyring in your luggage when packing for a month long trip) and being 100% carless for over a week. But previously, before the lost key incident, I think he said there was a different code...just can't remember what it was. I'll have to ask him. Whatever it was, it didn't give him enough info to diagnose the problem.

He did give me one "trick" to try. When it happens, release the key, then put the gas pedal to the floor and hold it down. With the gas pedal down, try turning the key again. He said that if that works, he would know it was one thing, and if it doesn't, he would know it wasn't that. Well, I've tried that trick several times. It works...sometimes. But with the last few incidents, even that hasn't worked and I've only been able to start the car after waiting several minutes then trying again.


The AC compressor.. easy, just get a new/rebuilt compressor.. will take an hour to install it and go get your AC system vacuumed down and refilled for $60.


Somehow, this seems entirely too simple to be true. From what I understand, a new compressor doesn't just snap right in to the car. But what do I know? :) )

One more thing I should mention. This vehicle has a recall issue: in the winter, when the temp drops below...oh, 25 or so, some of the doors won't close (this was not an issue for us until we moved from FL to MD).  See http://answers.edmunds.com/question-2005-ford-freestyle-door-latch-freezing-recall-173908.aspx. So here's me, driving my 3 kids to an appointment for which we cannot be late, holding my door closed driving on an icy road. I tried to get the dealership to address it, but they said they can only fix it if they can recreate the issue. The problem is, by the time I drive it to the dealership, the car has warmed up and the doors close just fine. So they're like, "well drop the car off the night before." Yeah, easier said than done when you only have one car and three kids to schlep with you to go drop it off. Besides, with flaky weather like we get here in MD, there's no guarantee the temp will be cold enough the next morning to recreate the issue. I think these people are BSing me...how do I get them to stop it?

But that's not my main issue of concern at the moment. It's really the A/C and the starting thing.

Basically fault finding comes down to two things.. its either electrics or its fuel.

if the fuel pump does not run before it starts it .. well won't start..:)

on the top of the engine there will be a fuel rail basically a tube of about 3/8th of an inch diameter.. that is connected to the fuel injectors. On this fuel rail there will be a plastic threaded cap usually.. if you unscrew that there will be a valve that looks like an oversized tire valve.

what you can do is to see if the fuel pump is running it so have your Hubby stand in front of the engine with the threaded cap removed and somthing like a nail where he can press the center pin of that valve. A bit like letting the air our of a tire... Except in this case fuel will come out.

So sit in the car.. open the hood, remove the cap.. Before you try to start it, have Hubby press the valve.. this will drain out any remaining fuel.

Now just turn the key to the run position.. not start.. for 5 seconds then turn off.. and have Hubby immediately press the valve.. there should be a high pressure fuel in that line which will shoot out of the hole (a rag and NOT smoking would be a very good idea)

If there isn't, then your fuel pump did not run.

You could also do this while the engine is cranking... (be very careful of rotating belts pulleys etc)... you should get fuel under one of the above scenarios.

If you do get high pressure fuel.. its not the fuel system.. if you don't then the fuel pump is not running for some reason and that's where you need to look.

You really should also take the car to Autozone or Pep boys etc who will read all the codes (for free).. then report back. Some faults will not throw a code but if your light is on then it means the computer has detected an error.. and we might as well know what that error is... Could make resolving this a lot easier..:)


AC compressors are simply bolted to the outside of the engine with two hoses connected.. driven by a belt.. Might be a PITA to get to, but in theory at least its a simple job to replace.. You are supposed to get the refrigerant recovered first to prevent it escaping to the atmosphere.

chilliepepper

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How hot does it get in the summer where you live?

I had the AC go on my last truck. I just stopped using it and rolled down the windows. If that happened to my current truck I'd do the same thing and ignore it if it was a $1K+ repair.

Hot. We live in the DC area, where the heat index today is 103. If it weren't for my three whiners, I would consider it...but it's just not worth the foul mood it puts everyone in.

I'll reply to other posts as time permits.

chilliepepper

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Does the failure to start tend to happen in hot weather or high altitude?  If so, it might be "vapor lock".

It has happened in both hot and cold weather. We haven't really been in a high altitude with it, so I can't really say.

chilliepepper

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It sounds like you need a new dealership. If it's a known recall issue they shouldn't give you any guff about fixing it. Generally for something like that it's a minor parts issue and they should just be able (and willing) to fix it.

I've never actually even used a dealership for repairs, so this is a new thing for me. So far I've called two local dealerships regarding the recall issue, and they've both told me the same thing: they would have to "see it act up" in order to order the parts. And I quote: (me) "So Ford is not going to honor the recall?" (guy on phone) "Yes." And he gave me the number for Ford Customer Relations.

chilliepepper

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Basically fault finding comes down to two things.. its either electrics or its fuel.


Just talked to the mechanic again and he said it's definitely not the fuel pump. We've had scenarios of white smoke coming out the back, and he said that wouldn't happen if there wasn't pressure in the line.

chilliepepper

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AC compressors are simply bolted to the outside of the engine with two hoses connected.. driven by a belt.. Might be a PITA to get to, but in theory at least its a simple job to replace.. You are supposed to get the refrigerant recovered first to prevent it escaping to the atmosphere.

I called another recommended mechanic for a second opinion (neither of these mechanics are at a dealership). He said that he thinks my regular mechanic is about right, given the recommended best practices of also replacing the A/C drier (also encouraged at RepairPal.com but not included in their baseline estimate), as well as recovering the refrigerant which adds to the labor time, recharging the thing, taxes, etc. If you add those on to the repairpal.com estimate, it winds up being about what I was quoted. He agreed that while we could save some money by using reconditioned or cheaper AutoZone parts (which maybe we would do if making the repair ourself), he favors a new, higher quality part and then stands behind it if it fails.

chilliepepper

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I've spent like $6k on my shitty 1998 Civic over the years, despite it's value being under $1500. People call me crazy, and throw around the typical "it's cheaper to just buy a new reliable car". But I do the math, and my price per mile is still incredibly low, under $0.15/mile for everything like gas, insurance, taxes, repairs, etc. I highly suggest thinking big picture when it comes to repairs. Sure it sucks to pay $3k to get your 10 year old car fixed, but average that cost out over the next 5 years and it doesn't seem so bad compared to paying for newer car depreciation, taxes, and insurance.

Yes. This. Thank you.