How do you know if you’re driving a clunker? If your car’s name includes the words Gremlin or Pacer, stop reading and go buy yourself a new car this minute. You know these cars are bad when Disney calls them out by basing characters called “The Lemons” on these vehicles in the movie “Cars 2.” For the rest of you who need help discerning whether your car is, in fact, a rolling piece of junk, here are your six signs.
Sign #6: A Bucket of Bolts
You say your car makes noises that sound like a bunch of bolts rattling around in a bucket? The crystal ball reveals many visits to an automotive repair shop in your future. Or, perhaps you’ve already spent hundreds of dollars over the past year fixing your fixer-up. If that’s the case, it’s time to re-evaluate your strategy.
Buying a new car isn’t as difficult as you may think. Certainly, getting a new-to-you car is better than pouring money into a losing proposition (i.e. your clunker). Use the Kelly Blue Book or other method to determine the value of your car. If you’re spending more money on repairs than the car’s worth, it’s time to upgrade.
Sign #5: Your Car has a Drinking Problem
Old cars drink too much gas. This drinking problem ends up draining your wallet dry at the pump. If you drive a great deal and have an older vehicle that isn’t fuel efficient, consider the money you’d save with a newer car that has better mileage. In addition, clunkers may have other problems such as bad tires that put a drain on fuel efficiency.
Sign #4: It Plays Cassettes
First, congratulations on knowing what an 8-track cassette is, and double kudos for still owning a device that plays them. What’s that you say? Your car plays the smaller cassettes? While it may be kind of kitsch to have a cassette player, it’s definitely a sign you’re driving a hunk of junk. Dump your mix tape and find yourself a better ride.
Sign #3: The Oh-No Odometer
If that ever-rolling set of numbers on your dashboard has hit 100,000, you’re starting to flirt with clunker territory. A car with that many miles is more likely to need repairs than cars with less wear and tear. While many cars built in the last 15 years can handle six-digit miles, older models don’t have the parts to withstand that level of use. It’s best to evaluate your car’s worth against typical repairs that come post-100,000 miles.
The level of routine maintenance your car has had during its lifespan impacts how well it will fair with this many miles. Hitting this mileage milestone is a good time to evaluate your car and decide if it’s ready for the junk yard.
Sign #2: Undiagnosed Problems
Does your car have chronic warning light syndrome? With this condition, one or more warning lights on the dashboard remain on whenever the car is in operation. When these symptoms first appeared, you took the car to a mechanic who went through the usual check list. However, no one could give you a clear reason why your car was suffering, trying to communicate its need yet failing miserably.
Sign #1: You’re Afraid to Drive Your Car Long Distances
Taking your vehicle out on the open road for any period of time makes you nervous, nervous enough to have the cell phone fully charged and emergency food and drinks on hand. As you click off the miles, you wonder if a serious problem is going to rear its ugly head and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it’s the car’s age, mileage, clunking sounds, or recent repairs that make your stomach turn. Whatever the cause, if you don’t feel comfortable taking your car beyond the city limits, you may be driving a piece of junk.
Rid yourself of the car that only goes in whatever direction the wind is blowing. Upgrade to a newer vehicle that will save you time, money, and headaches. Sure, you may miss your junker, but in the end, you’ll know you made the right decision.