Monday, September 17, 2007

Dumping good money after bad...

Okay our Ford Focus is needing a lot of work. Sigh, 70k miles on a 2000 car and more repairs. We couldn't afford to get out of it before, but now we can. Suggeted by two different places, we need to do the water pump, timing belt, probably the clutch, the gas gauge, the radiator fluid. All in all it's getting close to $3k and the car is worth $4-5k.

Now it doesn't need to be done instantaneously, but it will need work in the next year. I'd like to consider dumping this car and instead buying another used car in the $4-5k range. What I'm looking at are 97-98 subaru wagons. We could use the AWD and they are known to be reliable cars.

Now more about the Focus, we have totally redone the car twice. One someone smashed into us, and once DH hit someone else. Even with that we have had to replace the spark plugs, retune/clean the engine because the spark plugs were misfiring @ 30k miles, replace the brakes/rotors at 24k miles (we were told this is not unusual with fords), replace the gas pump, replace the steering column, and the door locks are starting stick as well as the hatch door lock doesn't shut well. Also two rims are bent (DH's fault).

Now I realize we're pretty much rebuilt this car it feels like multiple times, but I just don't understand why it's such a wreck. I have a 99 corolla and all we've done is change the brake pads and rotors once (recently at almost 90k miles), oil change and services. Nothing else. Runs like a dream. I can easily see myself keeping the car for another 10 years.

But what is the potential for keeping the Ford long term? Are we throwing away good money after bad? Should we suck it up and keep the know crap car instead of risking buying someone else's lemon? If we do all these repairs and then the engine or tranny blows (again fords have bad raps), then we really just flushed money down the toilet.

I know this is a case of sunk costs. But before we sink the $$$ into a car we aren't sure is worth it, I need to think about what the possible pros and cons are of doing so.

FWIW, we're not trying to spend money on a new car, hence we're trying to get a car for approximately the same value and mileage. Unfortunately it's 2-3 years older because Subarus are rated as more reliable cars according to consumer reports.

Maybe I'm being stupid and greedy, and I should just stick with our paid for car. We would not finance the car, but it's risky to trade a known evil for potentially an unknown entity. My DH is voting dumping the car because he doesn't like the idea of sinking more money in.

This will be a long debate probably. With guests in town we'll have a lot of time to mull over the different options and examine any deals that may come up.


Anonymous said...

I have a Ford Focus also. Haven't a lot of your car troubles been the result of your 2 accidents? If you think the repairs on an American car are high, what do you think the repairs on a foreign car (who has to import the parts) will be? Much higher, I am sorry to say.
Why would you buy a 98 model or older model than Focus?
Sounds to me that you are very hard on your vehicles. Hitting people is not a good thing.
My advice: repair Focus, keep it running as long as possible and then buy a later model AWD car later on (2001 etc.), as you save your money.

Anonymous said...

We would never buy a Ford again because of the unreliability we've had with them in the past. A foreign car, like a Honda or Toyota, is much more reliable and will run much longer. I heard that the newer Subarus are not as reliable as older models, so getting a used one is a good idea. Have a mechanic check it out first, however.


Living Almost Large said...

Nope, boomie, all the work done on the spark plugs, brakes/rotos, gas pump, steering column, door locks, windows, and key column were BEFORE our accident unfortunately. Actually during our first accident we were praying they could call it a complete wreck so we could take the money and buy a used Honda/Toyota.

I've found that having a Toyota is way cheaper than having a Ford. Sure parts are cheaper, but when you don't have to do any work on a car, that saves lot of money.

The two accidents occurred in 2005 and 2005, one in January and one in October of the same year.

I am looking for a car that doesn't need so much maintenance. According to Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Kbb driver reviews and reports, the 2000 Ford Focus (first production year) has TERRIBLE reliability. It barely passes, the later years have better reliability because they worked ou the kinks.

For example they don't have a split back seat, though the seats fold down split. NOT a smart design. The Hatchback which we have doesn't have good anchors in the trunk like it should. There were many recalls on this Ford Focus as well.

I hope boomie you don't have a 2000 Ford Focus. They are cursed, I've read about 4 other blogs with people hating their 2000 Ford Focuses. They seem to have a lot of the same problems.

Also if you read the 3 year drive test by Edmunds on the Ford Focus, it had a lot of problems staying reliable for a new car. During those three years the edmund reviewer replaced the windshield fluid pump, the brakes/rotor, the key column, just way more than say a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla Brand New had. Those had oil changes, at the end of 3 years the Focus had about $3k in repairs on a brand new car. Personally I think that's nuts.

If I'm buying new I expect nothing wrong with it. It should run like my Toyota. That's another consideration, buying an older Corolla, although they don't have AWD.

I just don't want to dump $3-4k into a car that will keep needing repairs. Most american cars don't last much past 100k miles. Camrys, Corollas, Accords, Civics have many supporters (more than likely), ability to last 250k miles.

Anonymous said...

It's a 2005 Focus, bought new but at end of season (so, really 2006) and I paid cash for it. It's a station wagon and has manual, stick shift transmission. Ford Focus has zero pollution emissions and I am very happy with it. I get almost 36 miles to the gallon.

Nonsense Means No Cents said...

I'd keep your current junker instead of buying a new-to-you used car. I agree with Boomie on all points- cheaper repairs with the Ford, save money in the short-medium range term, and hitting people is not a good thing. :)

More importantly, like you mentioned, you'd be risking more money for a potential lemon with an equally disastrous fate to your Ford. Good luck!

Living Almost Large said...

DH has a 2000 Ford Focus with stick shift. Since he's gotten it the best mileage he's gotten is 25 mpg. I get better with an automatic corolla at almost 30 mpg.

It's the car. Any car first year production is definitely worse than the rest of the years.

By the way Boomie, I hope your ford in 5 years is problem free. Problems for us didn't kick in till about 3 years. Then a lot of stuff started breaking.

The reliability of Toyota versus Ford is about to prove true for us. I think we'll keep the car for now and keep an eye out for a great deal.

The first time DH had his car hit, we were hoping it would be totalled so we could buy a Honda Civic. A friend had a second child and was selling their Honda Civic because it didn't fit anymore. That car was impeccably maintained, one owner, clean, perfect. They even offered us a deal, but we just didn't have the money.

If that sort of deal comes along again we're hoping to jump on something like that.