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Beating the secret society of car repair people
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The manager said he would not force us to keep the car, but he was so confident nothing was wrong with it that he would give us a one-year warranty for the engine, transmission and drive axle. He had leverage: My daughter clearly wanted the Mustang. Then, while I hemmed and hawed, the manager offered to extend the warranty for two years, free of charge, in lieu of roof racks.

I asked for a three-year warranty, but was told they didn't offer them on 1999 vehicles.

Long story short: We kept the car, got a two-year warranty and no free roof racks. So far, the Mustang runs OK.

Recently, the '96 Mercury Sable, with 157,000 miles on it, developed some major problems. All at once the power steering stopped working, the temperature gauge light showed the engine was running hot, and the battery indicator light was on. One mechanic said it needed a serpentine belt, a compressor, a condenser and something about a liquid line, I dunno. Total repairs would be $1,300. We took it to another mechanic for a second opinion, suspecting the first was trying to generate some extra revenue. The second mechanic confirmed the same problems and offered to fix it for $1,100.

  1. Should we fix the car or junk it?

    Fix the car. It only has 157,000 miles on it. Surely a one-time investment of $1,100 is better than a regular car payment.
    Get rid of it. Haven't you learned your lesson? Don't invest more into repairs than a car is worth. It might only last another week.

If you have a comment or suggestion about this column, write to Boomer Bucks.'s corrections policy-- Posted: Dec. 7, 2005
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