Is it time to put this 186k mile Olds out to pasture yet?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1992

Dear Tom and Ray:

I read your column in our newspaper faithfully, and your advice will figure heavily in my decision. Here's my dilemma. The love of my life is a '78 Olds Delta. The older I get, the more I appreciate her size and comfort. The engine checks out well in compression tests. The problem is the old girl is showing signs of needing new hydraulic lifters and a replacement transmission. With 182,000 miles (she's had regular service every 3,000), is she a "keeper?" Shall I spend $1,000 to $1,500 on her?

RAY: Well, Nancy, since you're a faithful reader, you probably know that we often come down on the side of keeping old cars. The reason is this; if you really love the car, $1,000 or $1,500 is nothing compared with the cost of buying a new one. So our position is usually "keep it."

TOM: But in your case, we'll make an exception. Here's why. You're at the extreme far end of the bell curve. In fact, we had to turn the page over to find where you were. With 182,000 miles, the likelihood of something else major going wrong ten minutes after you do the lifters and transmission is very high.

RAY: You could find yourself in need of a complete engine rebuild, a whole new front end, or you could discover that the entire frame is rotting out.

TOM: So the question is not whether you're willing to spend $1,000 or $1,500 right now, but whether you're willing to spend $3,000 or $4,000 over the next year or two. Chances are, more things will go wrong. And once you've sunk $1,500 into this car, it's a lot harder to roll it down to the bone yard and take the plates off.

TOM: So you're at a crossroads, Nancy. You have to either make a serious committment to this car, or let it go. In fact, it's not unlike a marriage.

RAY: So if you decide to keep it, we suggest you drive to Las Vegas where they have those "drive-in chapels" and marry the car.

TOM: Or if you decide not to make the committment, we suggest you go out and drive a new Ford Taurus. You'd be surprised at how nice--and comfortable--new cars are these days. And they have some wonderful new features; air bags, anti lock brakes, pollution controls, rear view mirrors....even heat!

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