17th Jan 2006, 16:17

It seems like you only had/have 3-4 real problems:

- Problems starting the car/starter motor.

- Engine light (Did you find out what the codes were? Did the new spark plugs fix the engine light issue? Or did the new catalytic converter fix it?).

- Loss of coolant. probably caused by a corroded radiator that you replaced.

- Airbag light.

The 1st three "problems" aren't a big deal, considering the age and mileage. The check engine light means you have an emissions issue - and a bad spark plug, bad wires or a bad catalytic converter can cause this. And the airbag light just means the airbag won't work in a collision. So your level of crash protection drops down to the level of a VW Golf before they came equipped with airbags. Something I wouldn't bother fixing. Fix it only if you want to sell the car certified.

To spend $3000 once after having 5 years of little or no repair costs is actually pretty good. I spent a little over $5000 (in Canadian funds) on maintenance, repairs (including a $500 stereo upgrade) on my 1987 Honda Civic over 3.5 years.

And I spent about $3000 on a 1991 Ford Escort I owned for 3 years.

On any car over 5 years old, you have to expect to spend an average of at least $100 a month on maintenance and repairs, simply because older cars need more maintenance than a new car.

You're doing better than that and you should be smiling over how well you've done with this car.

$100 a month is way cheaper than the payment on any new car. The cost of insuring a new car is higher as well.

If you want to reduce your repair and maintenance costs, stay away from VW dealers and educate yourself by going to sites like www.vwvortex.com and learn to do some things yourself. VW dealers (at least in the Toronto area) are terrible when it comes to service - expensive, arrogant *and* incompetent.