Fix it or ditch it?
How does one tell when it is time to give up on a car? The car in question is a 2004 Land Rover Discovery II (Pictured above and below)…that is primarily driven by my mom. Purchased new, and with a mere 120,000 miles, it has like most Land Rovers led a somewhat pampered existence.
And while I can’t quite say my mom has adhered to the adventurous Land Rover slogan “above and beyond”, I can’t say it wasn’t used exclusively for runs to Main street, the mall or supermarket, either.
It more than occasionally brought garbage to the town dump, went off road, hauled stuff from the Home Depot, and—perhaps most importantly—tackled snow-packed east coast roads with ease.
It might have been, in Land Rover’s words, “The Best 4x4xFar”, but today it’s causing my parents a lot of grief—which means I hear about it as the resident car expert in the family. My parents need something they can depend on, but sadly, the Land Rover isn’t cooperating. And it might be banished from the family fleet.
Worse, to some degree, my mom’s automotive identity is inextricably linked to green Land Rover Discoveries. For the last twenty-years, she has driven one green Discovery or another. What would she replace it with? And should my parents give up on it?
To be sure, it has never left my parents stranded. The body, lustrous paintwork, and interior are in great shape, evidence that this car was cared for. It’s everything else that is starting to fail systematically, one at a time, much like organs shutting down in a person’s body towards their end of their life. You fix one thing, and another problem rears its head.
The car experienced almost no problems during the warranty period, but a little while after, the first to go was the heater matrix, filling the passenger side footwell with water. Next, brakes and wheel bearings. Then it overheated (cured with a new radiator, and expansion tank).
In addition: the radio’s reception went fuzzy, the heated seats stopped working, the airbag light came on, the oil pressure sensor needed replacing, and brakes, bearings, and rotors needed replacing again. The check engine light went on, only remedied after replacing all four Oxygen sensors. Twice. In time, other things will go wrong.
Finally, the engine has developed a knock. My parents recently took it to a dealer where they pronounced the patient…errr…car has a “death knock”. The old Land Rover has a bad ticker, and it could go at any moment. We can have the engine rebuilt, or get a remanufactured unit, but the old Land Rover’s blue book value isn’t very high to begin with and its dealer-appraised value is even less.
Now, I’m not the sort of person to give up on a car, but there is a point when costs trump memories and emotions?