Author Topic: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?  (Read 941 times)

GoHokies

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Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« on: August 09, 2018, 08:07:02 AM »
Hello Mustachians! I am in a bit of a dilemma on what to do with my car. I really appreciate any responses and advice. 

To give you guys some background, right out of college I made an un-mustachian decision of buying a used sports car (I know, I know it was a mistake) for approximately $9k (2004 Infiniti g35).  I purchased the car outright and have owned the car for 5 years now.  I bought the car with ~95k miles on it and it now has ~150k miles on it.  I think if I sold the car today I could get approximately $4-$4.5k if I sold private party and $2.5k-$3k if I traded it in to a dealer (might honestly go through a dealer as I am not sure I would feel comfortable selling this car myself with all the recent problems with it).

For the first 3 years of ownership, the car treated me fairly well with the car only needing routine maintenance.  Over the past 2 years, the car has been a massive headache and money pit.  Here are a list of some of the repairs I have had to do over the past 2 years:

- 2 New tires ($400)
- Both camshaft sensors failing ($600)
- New front and rear breaks ($500)
- There was an oil leak I needed to fix, although I am blanking on exactly what caused the oil leak ($600)
- Sparkplug wires replacement ($300)

To top all of this off, last week my engine overheated and the radiator blew, which caused the engine thermostat to also fail.  This repair cost me $800.  Talking to my mechanic, he warned me that an engine overheat can often times cause complications with several other things going wrong.

Even with all these repairs, I have never considered replacing the car as its basically at the end of its depreciation curve, I drive it fairly sparingly (probably drive 12k-15k highway miles per year), and I did not want to go through the hassle/cost of replacing it.   However, this recent engine overheat and radiator fail is making me reconsider replacing it with a newer and more efficient vehicle (my Infiniti averages 21 MPG and takes premium gas).  I would still buy a used car and pay cash for it, but I have learned my lesson and will not buy a used sports car again (at least not in the near future - I might splurge one day once I reach FI).   I would probably target something like a used Mazda 3 as I think that car does a decent job of balancing affordability, reliability, efficiency, and decent performance.

What do you guys think?  Should I keep driving the Infiniti until the wheels fall off or should I bite the bullet now and get a replacement?  Right now I am leaning towards replacing it and I think it's the logical decision, but want to get some other opinions to make sure I am not acting too much out of frustration/emotion.

Thanks for reading!



Car Jack

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2018, 08:25:30 AM »
Unfortunately, you fit the profile of people who buy 350/370/G35/G37.  That being that they don't typically work on their own car.  Because of this, you've paid through the nose.  Some of the problems you talk about are well, well known and are simple, cheap fixes.

My son had an 05 350Z with about 90k miles on it.  We easily diagnosed the cam position sensor problem.  The passenger side one most often goes.  $21 later and literally 10 minutes of my time (first time I've ever done this particular repair) and the problem was solved.

All cars wear out tires.  The Z/G being big power cars, they do tend to go through them more quickly and most owners opt for higher performance, softer, quick wearing tires.  You could simply downgrade to a higher treadwear number tire next time and drive to adapt to less grip.

Brakes.....well, last I remember, I did do the fronts on the Z.  I believe I did pads only for $39.

Spark plug wires: your car doesn't have them.  The Z/G are coil on plug ignition systems.  So I have to believe that you had bad coil/coils that were replaced.  I'm going to guess at $300, it's maybe a couple of them that went bad.

Ok, so my synopsis:  These cars are great for the do-it-yourselfer because all the major issues are well known and cheap to fix.  You didn't mention the seat switch for power seats which always fail.  You can buy them from one of the discount dealers for $60 (I did).  You also don't mention the clutch master cylinder which is a real bitch to replace.  Not expensive but I spent an entire winter getting it replaced and even then, it wasn't properly adjusted.  Even engines are dirt cheap on these cars.  The engines were used in the sports cars and in pickups and in mini vans.  Replacement from a junkyard with some part swapovers from a dead engine are $600.  Try that with a Subaru of any type and you're talking multiple thousands of dollars.

However, for someone who doesn't do it themselves, it's not a great car.  It's a good car still as there is no timing belt to forget (chain).  And it's probably not going to leave you stranded (those cam position sensors WILL die again.....I'd have a spare in the glove box along with a 10 mm combination wrench).  If you're going to leave the repairs to someone else, you really should be looking for a Civic/Camry/Accord/Corolla. 

GoHokies

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2018, 08:34:42 AM »
Thanks for the reply.  You are correct I have taken everything to a mechanic.  I would love to learn how to do these repairs myself, but I have no garage, tools, etc. and I am not the most handy person.  This would have been great to know before I bought the car, but unfortunately I was coming right out of college and made a somewhat impulsive decision to get a fun sports car without really taking into all the considerations of what goes into owning one of these things.

If I do ever get an actual garage and tools to work on cars myself, I might consider getting one of these types of cars again (the thing is fun as hell to drive).  However I think for the time being I should just get something more practical.

Thanks again!

magnet18

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2018, 08:57:44 AM »
- 2 New tires ($400)
- Both camshaft sensors failing ($600)
- New front and rear breaks ($500)
- There was an oil leak I needed to fix, although I am blanking on exactly what caused the oil leak ($600)
- Sparkplug wires replacement ($300)

To top all of this off, last week my engine overheated and the radiator blew, which caused the engine thermostat to also fail.  This repair cost me $800.  Talking to my mechanic, he warned me that an engine overheat can often times cause complications with several other things going wrong.


Thanks for reading!

Tires - not a problem, routine maintenance, go buy the other 2 while you're at it
Breaks - not a problem, routine maintenance
Sparkplug wires - not a problem, routine maintenance, also you got taken for a ride because it's a $50/5minute job
Cam sensors - you got taken for a ride because you didn't do research / work it yourself, like someone else said
Oil leak - could be a sign of legitimate issues on the horizon
Overheated - bad mojo

Sounds like you're not "into" cars any further than enjoying driving fast ones, and definitley not into working on them, so I would definitely recommend replacing with a more mustachian car choice

You're at the end of the depreciation curve because you're at the end of the cars useful life.  Issues like the sparkplug wires are going to keep coming up, there are a lot of car parts that just start failing when cars get old, especially sportscars (they age much faster).  Bearings, rotors, more sensors, the list is long, and you'll eventually go through all of them

Overheating can and will cause issues down the road, especially if you drove it with low coolant until the car got so hot it shut down.  That causes metal parts to warp and creates new stresses in an old worn engine.  Oil leaks are hit or miss, sometimes it's just old seals, sometimes something else is amiss and causing pressure inside to get too high

My recommendation, sell it, get something used and boring and reliable (any Toyota, any honda, fit, vibe, you know the drill)

RWD

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2018, 09:08:13 AM »
I drive it fairly sparingly (probably drive 12k-15k highway miles per year), and I did not want to go through the hassle/cost of replacing it.

This is not sparingly at all, it's above average for the US and way high compared to most Mustachians. Driving that many miles I would definitely want something as fuel efficient as possible. Also, is there any way to reduce your annual mileage?

GoHokies

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2018, 09:41:11 AM »
Magnet - thanks for honest feedback.  I needed to hear this.  I made the purchase when I was coming right out of college (before discovering MMM) and knowing what I know now I would have made a completely different choice. 

RWD - You are right.  I think the "sparingly drive" thing came more from my perception than actual miles.  I walk to work everyday, so the majority of miles are highway miles from road trips, which I do very frequently (2-3 times a month). I think due to the lack of a commute I just automatically I assumed I drive very little, which is obviously wrong. I could easily cut this back, but it's one of the few areas of spending I splurge on and I get a lot of enjoyment out of it.  I'm also still able to save 60%+ of my income despite all the road trips, so it's a luxury I'm able to afford. I do agree with you that getting something fuel efficient makes a lot of sense.

Thanks again everyone for replies!  I will start the car search. 

frugaliknowit

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2018, 09:57:16 AM »
$2400 over 3 years (some of which were normal wear and tear) does not sound that bad to me for an old car.  I don't like the 21 mpg on PREMIUM (gasp!).

GoHokies

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #7 on: August 09, 2018, 10:02:07 AM »
$2400 over 3 years (some of which were normal wear and tear) does not sound that bad to me for an old car.  I don't like the 21 mpg on PREMIUM (gasp!).

If you include the radiator fail it is $3,200 over 2 years, which seems kind of bad.  I'm more worried about this engine overheat causing a bunch of other stuff to go wrong. And yes, the MPG is quite bad.

MilesTeg

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Re: Car Repair Hell - Should I Replace or Keep Driving?
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2018, 10:42:01 AM »
Hello Mustachians! I am in a bit of a dilemma on what to do with my car. I really appreciate any responses and advice. 

To give you guys some background, right out of college I made an un-mustachian decision of buying a used sports car (I know, I know it was a mistake) for approximately $9k (2004 Infiniti g35).  I purchased the car outright and have owned the car for 5 years now.  I bought the car with ~95k miles on it and it now has ~150k miles on it.  I think if I sold the car today I could get approximately $4-$4.5k if I sold private party and $2.5k-$3k if I traded it in to a dealer (might honestly go through a dealer as I am not sure I would feel comfortable selling this car myself with all the recent problems with it).

For the first 3 years of ownership, the car treated me fairly well with the car only needing routine maintenance.  Over the past 2 years, the car has been a massive headache and money pit.  Here are a list of some of the repairs I have had to do over the past 2 years:

- 2 New tires ($400)
- Both camshaft sensors failing ($600)
- New front and rear breaks ($500)
- There was an oil leak I needed to fix, although I am blanking on exactly what caused the oil leak ($600)
- Sparkplug wires replacement ($300)

To top all of this off, last week my engine overheated and the radiator blew, which caused the engine thermostat to also fail.  This repair cost me $800.  Talking to my mechanic, he warned me that an engine overheat can often times cause complications with several other things going wrong.

Even with all these repairs, I have never considered replacing the car as its basically at the end of its depreciation curve, I drive it fairly sparingly (probably drive 12k-15k highway miles per year), and I did not want to go through the hassle/cost of replacing it.   However, this recent engine overheat and radiator fail is making me reconsider replacing it with a newer and more efficient vehicle (my Infiniti averages 21 MPG and takes premium gas).  I would still buy a used car and pay cash for it, but I have learned my lesson and will not buy a used sports car again (at least not in the near future - I might splurge one day once I reach FI).   I would probably target something like a used Mazda 3 as I think that car does a decent job of balancing affordability, reliability, efficiency, and decent performance.

What do you guys think?  Should I keep driving the Infiniti until the wheels fall off or should I bite the bullet now and get a replacement?  Right now I am leaning towards replacing it and I think it's the logical decision, but want to get some other opinions to make sure I am not acting too much out of frustration/emotion.

Thanks for reading!

I would get rid of it, now.

Most of what you listed is just normal maintenance, but your mechanic is right, a significant overheating event to an older engine will significantly accelerate any existing problem that is brewing. Metal, even though it is ductile, doesn't react well to overheating. Especially since your engine has many different types of metals that have different thermal properties and so overheating can do things like make your pistons expand so much that they get too large for the cylinders and cause major wear/damage even in a short amount of time. An engine that old already has significant wear and tear to the metal that were made a lot worse by that overheating. This can lead to premature catastrophic damage like a cracked header or block and other things mentioned by others. It can also damage gaskets and other non-metal parts which can lead to really bad things like coolant leaks into your oil (and visa versa). While those parts are cheap, it's very expensive to replace them since you have to disassemble a large chunk of the engine to do it.

Whether that sort of thing will happen soon or not is uncertain (and depends on how severe the overheating problem was and how long it persisted), but the probability of major damage is higher now.

I would trade that in on a nice gently used commuter vehicle, since I gather from your mileage and highway use that you commute.  In general I don't agree with "drive it till the wheels fall off". Trade in for a newer vehicle, and keep it ~15 years but get rid of it once you start putting near or more into maintenance and repairs than it's worth over a. That's the point you start throwing money away. You've dropped $3k into a car that's worth $2-4, you are at that point.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2018, 10:49:07 AM by MilesTeg »