My poor car is falling apart.

I suppose I can’t complain too much as it is almost eight years old with almost 150,000 miles on it, but damn if it isn’t one thing it’s another and then a couple more on top of that.

First, there’s something rubbing near the front driver’s side wheel when I drive. It doesn’t seem to be affecting the handling at all and I’ve looked and can’t see what the hell it is, but it’s loud enough that it attracts stares from people as I pass by. When I had my tires worked on not too long ago I asked the guys to let me know if they noticed anything and they couldn’t figure it out either. So I don’t know if it’s a serious problem or not.

Then my Service Engine Soon light has come back on. You may recall back around this time last year it came on and I took the car to Auto Zone and they told me it was a Camshaft Sensor Out of Range error in the car’s computer. I bought the part to fix it, but before I ever got around to figuring out how to put it in the light went off and stayed off until about a week ago. I still have the part and I’ll probably head up to Auto Zone to see if it’s the same error and perhaps it’ll go away before I get around to fixing it again.

Lastly, and this one really annoys the hell out of me, Anne went shopping at Meijers on Monday and when she came out the passenger side review mirror was broken. The weird part is that whoever broke it took the time to clean up most of the glass before they left. Considering that this is a powered mirror I’m guessing that getting it replaced will cost a small fortune, but I use all my mirrors quite a bit and not having one on that side is really pissing me off.

So, yeah, the car is in rough shape these days and I’d really like to trade it in on a new on, but money’s tight and we really need two cars anyway and so it’s not happening anytime soon. Unless I suddenly become rich or something.

19 thoughts on “My poor car is falling apart.

  1. I know your pain…but depending on what is wrong it might pay to get a new one.  We had the same issue a while ago…it seems like every time we turned around there was something wrong with our car (it is also about 7-8 yrs old).  We talked to our mechanic though and he said (after the last repair) that it just needed some new parts after so long and that unless it comes up with yet another problem it is ok…after we spend over $1000 fixing it in less than a year between gaskets and water pumps and tune ups bc the spark plugs were shooting electricity where it shouldn’t be..

    Either way…good luck.. Hope it holds out until the economy is better anyway.

  2. If the mirror mechanism is intact, and the frame on which the mirror was attached, buy a plastic mirror and cut it to shape, stick it onto the movable backing.

    Good luck…

  3. If it is just the mirror glass, that can usually be replaced fairly inexpensively.  Car parts stores sell some replacement mirror glass, if not, check at a dealer.

  4. My Toyota pick up is 12 years old and still running strong. I change oil every 3,000 miles, flush the radiator, etc. Nothing major in 278,000 miles. You see why some people are a little upset at the Detroit built-in-obsolescence thing.  cheese

  5. Hey Les, I may just be a weird Greenie who has no idea of the US*, but why does your family NEED two cars? Thought about getting a bike for some trips? That would free up gas money too.

    *But then I live in a city which has an extremely bad record of being wedded to its cars and highways, and still do not own a car… so at least I walk the talk (quite literally wink).

  6. Only 150k miles? I have 220k miles on my car and its running great.

    My wagon got up to 335k miles before I retired it due to rust.

  7. Bike’s are great and I do plan to get one eventually, but winter’s coming on and I’m just not willing to ride a bike in the winter. Not that I’ll be getting a second car anytime soon either. For the record we are walking a hell of a lot more these days as well as using the bus system.

  8. Les – who says you have to buy a new one? The way the market is you can get a good late-model used vehicle for a fraction of that. Let someone else endure the steep depreciation in the first few years.

    I haven’t bought a new car in maybe 20 years, and have always found good used ones with less than 30 or 40k miles on them.

    Not sure how mass transit is in your area. It generally sux here in Twin Cities – only works well going between the ‘burbs and downtown. Trying to go from one suburban location to another by bus is damn near impossible without several transfers. And with our weather, biking or walking is not fun for about 6 months out of the year.

  9. Like decrepitoldfool/itdontmatter go to NAPA and ask to look at their PSA book. In the section for mirrors you’ll see that they have the replacement mirrors with the adhesive already on them. Most can be had for under 10$.

  10. SN, I’m no mechanic as should be obvious from the fact that my current car is feeling its age prematurely. When I first started driving I bought nothing but used cars and none of them lasted me longer than two years. Every new car I’ve bought, and so far it’s been a total of three in 25 years of driving, has held up much better over the long run. I got five years on the first new car, a 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, before I sold it for a 1993 Pontiac Sunfire and that lasted me until 2000 when I bought a Pontiac Grand Prix.

    In the five years that I was driving prior to buying my first new car in 1988 I owned a total of three used cars—a 69 Chevy Nova clunker (my first car), a 1970’s era Caprice Classic, and a 1980 Chevette—all of which I ended up putting more money into several times over than I paid for the damned things.

    If we do the math it’s easy to see that I get more use out of a new car than I do in a used one. Not to mention fewer headaches. I know people who never buy anything but a used car and they’re able to keep them running for thousands of years. I’m not one of those people. As far as I’m concerned a monthly car payment is quite similar to a monthly utility bill. I’m paying to make sure that when I go to start it in the morning it starts.

    The mass transit in Ann Arbor is actually pretty impressive. As I said earlier, Anne and Courtney have both already made heavy use of it. It also helps that I live within a five minute drive from work and 15 minutes to college. We’ve gone from filling up the car once a week to once every two weeks which has helped a great deal. Not to mention the fact that gas prices have dropped below $3 a gallon around here.

  11. Trencher snuck in while I was replying. I’ll look into that, but I’m not sure if it’ll work with the situation I’ve got. I’ll take a picture of it later today and post it so folks can see what the hell is wrong with it.

  12. Les

    150k miles is not a lot and 7 or 8 years is nothing.  I recently replaced my 17 year old 275k vehicle with a good 8 year old 100k car.  I fully expect to get about 10 years and atleast 150k of service from it – if not more.  (Note vehicles are Japanese).

    As for the mirror.  Take the advice above.  Buy a mirror and glue it in.  Even if the mechanism is damaged as long as the housing is OK you can still glue it in the right position – assuming that between you and the wife there is a “your car”, “my car” thing going on.



  13. Just curious, Les: if you are a five minute drive from work, how long does that take to walk?  Here in Vienna, at least, a five minute drive (including parking) is usually about a twenty minute walk or a ten minute bike ride.

    And I agree with the others: 150k miles shouldn’t mean the end of an auto.  The last car I bought was a ‘62 Rambler which had 120k miles on it.  I rebuilt the engine and put another 120k on it with no problems.  And that was just a piece of Detroit junk.

  14. OB, I plan to make my next car a Honda Civic so perhaps I’ll get 200K out of it.

    Zilch, I haven’t walked it yet though I’ve been meaning to. Things have worked out so far that either I have the car that day or Anne is here to pick me up at the end of my shift. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I simply must have the car so I can make it from work to college in the half-hour I have available between them. I will probably end up walking at some point soon, however, as Anne’s going to need the car during one of my shifts.

    Also let me clarify that I’m not saying that my car is at the end of its life. What I am saying is that it’s starting to develop problems I’m not capable of resolving on my own. Your ability to rebuild an engine is admirable, but it’s not a skill I posses and, in all honesty, not one I’m interested in developing. Right or wrong, mechanics is not something I’ve ever had much of an interest in and I’m a lousy home handyman.

    Just as some people want a computer that “just works” without a lot of fiddling with, I want a car that just works without my needing to rebuild its engine or do anything more complex than keep the tires inflated and get the oil changed.

  15. FWIW- The rubbing sound could be the bearings going out. Could be they just need to be repacked or (more expensively) replaced.

  16. I had a weird growling sound on my Blazer and my anti-lock brake code showing up all the time. Ended up being my wheel bearings. Evidently GM wheel bearings on the Blazer only last 20k miles. Rather expensive fix, but easy to do though. But I also had the same kind of noise on my turbo eclipse and found out it was just a piece of plastic covering the inter-cooler had come loose and hitting the tire at speed. That fix cost about 5$ from the Doorman kiosk at o’reilly. Diagnostic free was 75$. Sometimes the most obvious problems are the hardest to see. =)

  17. Les

    Yes the Civic is a good choice.  I’ve also found the Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Echo/Yaris to be reliable and cost efficient motor vehicles – not that there are not others.  Those just came to mind quickly.

    I purchaced a book called the “Lemon Aid” prior to my purchace and it really helped narrow the choice.  You might be able to find something similar for the States.  It sure would increase you odds of a reliable purchace if you need to go down that road.

    In the mean time I hope that your currently needed repairs come cheap.  Good luck.


  18. Les, I like the Civics too, but can I take a sec to plug the Honda Fit? Wifey and I bought one last January and absolutely love it. It looks incredibly tiny, but I recommend test driving before judging. The doors open up extra wide and Honda Engineers spent a lot of time working on the interior so there is tons of room. My 6’7” 375lb friend actually fits in the front seat. I helped DOF move a behemoth of a TV and we were both impressed that it fit. And the price is hard to beat, sub 17,000 fully loaded.

    Good luck with your car! I will ditto DOF’s idea.

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