Upgrade your Old Ride

Toyota 2002 Corolla LEToyota 2002 Corolla LE

Should you upgrade your old ride or replace major components like an engine or transmission to keep it going?

We all reach that point with our aging automobiles when we must make some tough decisions. Here on this page we'll provide an overview of the decision-making process.

More importantly, we'll develop some auto repair articles that talk about specific situations. You can find these in the help section below. When a car is reaching the end of its life we must decide whether to approve expensive service operations or cut our losses and move on to a newer used car.

Often people apply logic that really doesn't hold water. One of the common mantras is they won't be able to buy a new vehicle for the price of the pending repairs. Although this might be true, we don't know when the next big repair comes down the pike. For this reason we should always carefully consider large repairs on old cars.

In fact, a 15-year-old car with more than 200,000 miles on it becomes likely to cost more over the next year of operation than the payments of an upgraded used car. This is just a general statement that needs further evaluation on a case-by-case basis.

Sinking Big Money into Old Cars

Worn out Chevrolet V6Worn Out Chevy 4.3L V6 Engine

As I mentioned, we get into individual scenarios in the articles below. These posts take a deep dive into individual automotive systems.

However, when you're talking about replacing an engine or transmission on a high mileage old ride, there's some things you should consider before approving these big-ticket items.

As an example, let’s say you replace the transmission. This newer component becomes surrounded by older parts. Unfortunately, these old parts continue to need elevated levels of service in the future because of their advanced age.

Some of these automotive systems can be extremely expensive to fix. The automotive air conditioning system represents a classic example of huge repair bills. In fact, some of the worst case scenario AC problems can cost more then the car is worth. But, if you live in Florida or Texas you really can't live without air.

Although car air conditioning systems are a great example of a high cost repairs, even less expensive items like front and rear brakes or suspension work can add up to large repair bills.

However, after you drop big money into a new transmission you're more committed to continuing these types of larger and smaller repairs.Throwing good money after bad comes to mind.

In the end, deciding whether it's worth replacing a major system like an engine or transmission should coincide with evaluating the overall condition of the automobile. If you need some guidance you can use my car inspection worksheet. Force yourself to stand in the truth of the automobiles complete condition before making big decisions.

My Personal Automotive Observations

I've had customers come in for various repairs after replacing major items like an engine or transmission. Hard to solve check engine light problems or an automobile that doesn't run correctly, remain common side effects of a major system replacement.

Recently we had a customer come in with a check engine light on. The vehicle set a bunch of trouble codes. As we started inspecting the vehicle we noticed many broken connectors where they plugged into the individual sensors.

The customer explained they had the engine replaced at another shop. The repairs took place three months ago and came with a short term warranty. She told us how they provided and honored the 90 day warranty coverage that now expired.

In that 3 month time span she found it necessary to return to the repair center at least once a week for various issues. She said the motor shop asked her to stop coming in after the warranty expired.

What the customer didn't realize is this 20-year-old car with 300,000 miles on it received a low mileage junk yard engine. Nevertheless, she continued to say her car had a new engine. In reality it had a motor with true mileage unknown.

Unfortunately, the old wiring harness that connect all the sensors to the computer was still 20 years old with 300,000 miles. The plastic connector locks became brittle like fragile pieces of glass.

Thankfully, in this situation we located brand new electrical connectors and replaced the broken ones. Slowly this vehicle turned the corner and provided better service. In fact, the driver began to spend more time behind the wheel then at the repair shop. With that said, there's an important lesson to learn here. Even though the engine is newer, everything that connects to it remains old.

Articles on How to Upgrade Your Old Ride

This article fulfills two popular requests. What kind of car should I get my kid and what's a reliable replacement unit for everyday transportation. Review my advice on picking the right first car.

What happens after the transaction. People often miss an opportunity when they get a new used car. See three things to do after buying a used car. If you've already taken all these actions then you're a genius.

What if you want a classy ride for a small price? Review this post about the top 5 cheap cars that look expensive.

This next article is an interesting story about a Chrysler Sebring convertible purchased for a surprisingly low price. See how this seemingly good value used car turned expensive quickly.

After reading the article about the used Chrysler you might be wondering how you can stop this from happening to you. The answer is to print out this used car inspection worksheet. And don't forget to take it with you when you're car shopping.

In my opinion there are things you shouldn't do to your car if you use it for everyday transportation. See my top five list of automotive upgrades to avoid.

Someone asked me to pick one older car that's reliable and reasonably priced. It didn't take me long to come up with one really reliable old car.

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