Return of the 125,000 mile curse

I like my car.  Or, I should say, I liked it.  I am not a superstitious person and there are very few inanimate objects I'll ascribe intentions to, but I think my car is trying to make me hate it.

My cars have what you might call a 125000 mile curse:  at that point they either break beyond repair, get totalled in a crash, or (rarely) get traded in while still functional.  I swore it'd be different this time.  My Mazda3 suits me very well, and it should be capable of 175000 miles if not more.  So when it reached 125k, I put $2000 into it to fix an engine mount and work on the brakes and suspension.  I thought that should keep the car on the road for another three years, at which point the inexorable advance of rust would claim it.

Almost immediately after the brake and suspension work, the squeaking and rattling came back.  Can I get from point A to point B?  Yes.  Enthusiastically?  No.  I have to admit that driving past people in a car that is audibly in need of repair makes me feel *bad*.  I can ignore that problem by rolling up the windows.  However, earlier this summer my air conditioning began to flicker on and off.

Two weeks ago my turn signal stopped shutting itself off after right turns.  The windshield wipers have been whacking loudly against the metal beside the glass for the last 40,000 miles.  The A/C is unreliable.  It squeaks like a bus and rattles like a coffee can full of rocks.  And the rust is spreading. 

And yesterday it wouldn't start.

It may be time to trade in this sled.

The mechanic says the only thing wrong is the battery, but I know:  it doesn't like me.  It wants to go sit in someone else's driveway.  Maybe I'll grant its wish.


  1. My car is about 1,000 miles from 150,000 and is still running like a dream (knock on wood). But I completely understand the desire for a good car.

  2. At 166K my Honda has had suspension noises for a couple of years. I mostly ignore them but I think you correctly diagnosed bad shocks. I think that was summer of 2010. The secret to happiness with a used car is low expectations, with plenty of room below for additional lowering as needed.

  3. I got out of this one for a relatively light $220, but a heavy cost in confidence. And maybe my embarrassment at driving a literal clunker means I'm judgmental. I'm not judgmental about most things, but I guess I know too much about cars to be unselfconscious about their flaws.

    I replaced the rear shocks at 90k miles and then *again* a month ago. Maybe somebody is crawling under my car while I'm at work, and beating on the suspension with a ball-peen hammer.

  4. At some point the cost of repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle. The Mazda is perilously close to that moment.

  5. @Dave; That's one way of looking at it. Another way that's valid for some people is to compare the cost of repairs on the present car to the cost of depreciation on a newer one. For me, if I'm putting less in repairs into it than the depreciation (and loan interest, if applicable) on a newer car, I'm ahead. In simple business terms when you repair something that you own you buy back some of its depreciation so it's a dollars/dollars comparison.