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A Lemon, Bad Luck, or is this Normal?

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Old 02-25-2018, 09:02 AM
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Default A Lemon, Bad Luck, or is this Normal?

Hi All,
I bought a 2003 LW300 in August of 2016 - gorgeous car, great gas mileage, comfortable to drive.
The first month I had it, the ignition had to be replaced... tow bill and repair cost over $400. Ca-ching.
About a month later there was liquid on the passenger floorboard. I googled and found it could be either condensation, or heater core. When I took it in for an oil change, I asked them to check the drain plug - he said it was clogged and liquid drained out. Goody.

Not so, a couple of months later, more fluid on the floorboard and the defroster didn't work properly. Heater core. More ca-ching.
No more problems for a while, then last summer I started hearing a tic-tic-tic-tic-tic sound (but like a bird chirping) from the front passenger side wheel area. My mechanic said it was the wheel bearings. Brakes and bearings replaced. Ca-ching.
Only the next day, same noise. I took it back and told him. Know what he did? came out and spritzed the belt with WD-40 and the noise stopped. I didn't ask him, but I'm thinking "Okay. Did I just pay $300 for work I didn't need done?" The tic-tic continued for months, getting worse and then one day it just stopped all together and hasn't come back since. ???

New issue: I noticed that the low coolant light comes on fairly often, so I check it regularly. Last month it was down 3" in the reservoir, from the seam line. I fill it up. Every three to four days I do this. So, I take it in (also got a second opinion from another mechanic) was told it's the water pump. Of course, if you replace the pump you need to also replace the pulley and other doo-dads, oh, and the timing belt, too. $760 plus tax. Major Ca-Ching.
I realized this is half the book value of the car.

I need to mention too that when I first got the car the check engine and service engine lights came on. I took it to the dealer for diagnosis and was told the transmission was maxed out (paraphrasing) whatever that means. He said it could be the transmission, or it could be a bad sensor. I did nothing, the lights are still on, and there seems to be no problem with the transmission.
There's 147,000 miles on the car. I drive it about 20 miles/day. Oh, and the rims on the passenger side are bent...

So, I guess what I want to know is, if you were me, what would you do with this car?

I also have a 1998 Silverado that is beginning to show it's age. I'm thinking of trading both in on an upgrade.

Thanks for any advice.
Sandy
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 09:06 AM
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PS. Last year I had new Memphis speakers installed... $300.

Oh, and I think the previous owners were nursery workers and used it as a work vehicle - the upholstery and carpet is kind of cruddy. I tried to clean the seats myself, but I think that only made them worse. Asked a detail shop what they'd charge... $200 - and couldn't guarantee the stains would come out.
 

Last edited by sandycane; 02-25-2018 at 09:09 AM.
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Old 02-25-2018, 11:37 AM
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Sounds like the car is in good shape for a while after all the repairs. If you can live with the dirty interior the major engine failure areas have been addressed. I would stick with the second mechanic by the way. The transmission will run a long time with those lights on. I would run it out to recover some value.
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 12:05 PM
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That's kind of what I was thinking, but then yesterday when I got in the drivers seat of my truck to go to work, it was wet - rain is leaking in from somewhere. Like I said, it's starting to show age. So, I thought, maybe it would be better to trade in both of them, before they are completely worthless, for another used truck.
I would much rather spend the $800 to repair the Saturn -I F- I can get another 3 to 5 years out of it.
Before all the repairs, I figured it would have paid for itself in gas saved, compared to what I am spending on the Silverado, in three years. Almost there.
BUT, if I can get $700 trade in for it, I think it would be better to get something newer.

The mechanic at the dealer told me since it was a limited production vehicle, and they don't make them any more, in the not too distant future some parts will be impossible to get and those that are available will be high-dollar since they will be hard to come buy.
Is this true?
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 12:06 PM
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Btw, the cruddy seats don't bother me, I put a blanket over the back seat and the front seats aren't all that bad.
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 01:49 PM
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The same can be said of Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saab, Mercury and all the other models the manufacturers killed off. The 300 series Saturns have a low production engine but the big thing with ANY 15 year old cars is factory replacement parts and dealer support. Things like belts, brakes and water pumps will be available for years to come.
Do your research on what ever truck you decide to move up to. There are certain models that are not worth buying.
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 02:20 PM
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True.
I also considered doing nothing. The mechanic at the dealership was very helpful and we discussed the car for a good 30 minutes. I could tell he was being diplomatic and not saying all he wanted to. The next day when I talked to him on the phone, and told him I'd decided to drive it as is until it won't drive any more, especially since the cost of repairs is half the value of the car, he agreed and said he thought that was a good option. He said to bring in a bottle of Stop Leak for coolant systems when I go pick it up and he would put it in or me no charge. He also said just check the water and oil often, keep them to acceptable levels, and it should drive like that for a while.
What do you think of this option?

Btw, the first time they did the pressure test, it showed nothing wrong with the water pump. He said they had to run it hot before it showed results.
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 03:12 PM
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Stop leak will not fix the leaky waterpump, so you haven’t fixed the waterpump yet? My lw300 waterpump blead out over one weekend, I ran it on water for a couple weeks. I only replaced the waterpump and drove it for a couplemore months then sold it. I would stop leak it and get rid of it if I owned it at this point. I thought you had already replaced the pump and timing belt. When the timing belt breaks it becomes a $100 scrap car.
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 03:57 PM
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No, haven't had the work done yet - been trying to decide if the car is worth it. Sorry I wasn't clear about that.
The $800 bill includes replacing the timing belt, along with the water pump.
I'm sort of confused about the water pump issue... the water pump went out on my truck a few years ago - on a ten mile trip to town. All of a sudden it was running hot and the heater didn't work. Went straight to Auto Zone and he said it was the water pump. Took it to the shop the next day and that's what it was.
The Saturn isn't running hot. Honestly, I have doubts the problem is with the water pump.
Could it be a leaky hose somewhere from when they replaced the heater core last year?
 
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Old 02-25-2018, 05:38 PM
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The waterpump is under the timing cover, it will leak and drip out on the passenger side frame rail. It is labor intensive to change the pump, it is recommended to change the timing belt when changing the pump. The coolant deteriorates the timing belt and timing belt failure causes major engine damage. If you like the car it is your decision what to do. Trade it as-is or fix and drive for a while and recover some equity.
 
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