26th Oct 2013, 02:56
I am not sure if this unique perspective helps anyone out, but I am here, over 8 years later, replying to my own comment that I had forgotten I'd written. I am just now looking into purchasing a newer car. I can't say I've treated my car the best over the time I've owned it, being that it's been totaled out twice (my father and I opted to fix it up ourselves with aftermarket parts after each accident), but I have tried to keep it decently maintained. Sorry, I never noted the mileage at which all the repairs occurred, but I do know that I had just over 100,000 at purchase, and I have just over 197,000 now. It eats about a quart of oil every month. Sometimes more.
I have been through 3 brake issues where the emergency brake cable became jammed within the sheathing, causing a mildly stuck position which I was unaware of the first two times before discovering it at the third breakdown of the braking system (~$250 each time). I had the radiator fail on me once, probably due to damage sustained after having taken the car into a ditch at highway speeds ($200 fix). The gurgling coolant tank has been occurring for years now, and I don't even pay attention to it, because it seems to be a simple annoyance. Tire wear seems uneven, but moderate. I have replaced both regular headlight bulbs and a trunk bulb.
The serpentine belt sustained age-related damage and had to be replaced. Both sides of the car have rust eating at the bottom from damage sustained in an accident. The power door locks work sometimes, and other times not. For now, the power windows still function; sometimes they are slow when the engine is idling. The AM/FM stereo has been replaced with a CD player, and each of the four speakers has been replaced 3 times (excluding the tweeters in the dash). The tachometer gauge and the digital odometer have been largely nonfunctional since soon after I purchased the vehicle. Usually, functionality can be attained while driving at highway speeds on humid, hot summer days. The driver's seat has a piece of blunt, yet annoying steel poking through a small hole near the hip area. The headliner is developing small holes and the rear portion is being held in place by headliner pins.
The passenger's side mirror is original, and the horizontal motor has quit functioning, while the driver's side mirror is a replacement with functioning motors, but the heating element is nonexistent unlike the original mirror. I have not had any exhaust issues save for a current, yearlong evaporator leak code on the check engine light. I have had to get the Throttle Position Sensor replaced once at ~$100; the car wouldn't accelerate past 25mph for safety reasons (that was a royal pain on the highway to the shop). Engine economy and power is beginning to become compromised, due to residue buildup from an oxygen-rich fuel mixture, I surmise. My check engine light will begin flashing, indicating imminent catalytic-converter failure and loss in acceleration power, when I try to accelerate at certain times. Very unnerving on the highway.
The air conditioner still works, and was actually thought to be non-operational for a number of years after I totaled out my car the first time, but I purchased oil, coolant, and leak sealant two years ago in frustration, and discovered the wonderfully cool air again after several almost unbearable summers. It's a shame I didn't do that sooner.
The most recent repair done was a fuel pump and filter replacement a year ago. I started the car after a long day at work, then the check engine light came on and I said oh well and drove it home. It wouldn't start again after I shut it off at home. That was a $100 tow I could have avoided, but without the tow, the repair for that was $400.
Overall, this has been a very decent car, which only didn't start for me once or twice and stalled on me in minimal (near idle conditions) once or twice (due to known problems and also on an extremely cold winter day after having 40 minutes to warm up. A new battery fixed the issue). It has been totaled out twice and I am still driving it. I am still getting ~28 MPG, I believe. It is hard to determine since the odometer doesn't display a readout most of the time. It has been a blast to drive, save for the tradeoff in power vs fuel economy. I believe it has held up rather well for a first vehicle not mistreated, but totaled twice (accidents happen). There are other small problems that have not cost me more than $100 over the years, and I have forgotten about them in time.
I hope this is useful information to someone out there. I'm definitely ready for a better car, though. It's been a fun, sometimes frustrating, learning experience.