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Fix car before trade in?
Old 05-29-2018, 09:19 AM   #1
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Fix car before trade in?

I drive an 08 nissan frontier I’ve had since 2010. 182k miles - never wrecked - new tires. It hasn’t been much trouble - very reliable.

An airbag light came on. I tried resetting it myself using videos online with no luck. Took it in this morning and was given the unpleasant news that it could be 1 of 4 scenarios that would restore the signal. They cant “test” an airbag so they need to restore the signal. They are not functional now.

So naturally I chose no 2, $580 and it can be done tomorrow. It was the cheapest option and the one the tech said was most often the issue - spral wiring? or something like that. If that does not work we move on to door no 1 which is 1100 and similar pricing for 3 and 4 each

Normally, I am one to fix and not buy cars frequently but I’ve been thinking it getting something else lately so now I’m wondering, is this a good time to trade? Does a potentially expensive repair significantly reduce my trade in value? A dealer can fix it much cheaper than I can.

I would purchase another used vehicle.

If I end up paying thousands in repairs I’m going to feel obligated to drive her another 10 years!

Fyi - I have not done any sort of fix for the nissan radiator/transmission flaw. So far I have been lucky.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:37 AM   #2
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That vehicle is headed to auction. I wouldn't put anything in it.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:38 AM   #3
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Well, one thing you could consider would be to ignore the light and always wear a seat belt. Driver & passenger front air bags are completely unnecessary if the individual is properly belted. And how many times in your life have you been in a crash where air bags provided some safety value?

It's really a matter of evaluating the risk and its probability.

Another way to look at it is that $1000 +/- is lot less than you'd pay in taxes, fees, and depreciation in order to obtain a significantly newer vehicle. So on a strictly economic basis, spending the money makes sense.

OTOH, if you are looking for an excuse to get a new ride, this is it.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:44 AM   #4
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Well, one thing you could consider would be to ignore the light and always wear a seat belt. Driver & passenger front air bags are completely unnecessary if the individual is properly belted. And how many times in your life have you been in a crash where air bags provided some safety value?
Not here to argue with you, but there is plenty of evidence that contradicts your assertion; particularly with side-impact protection. Personally, I have no intention of increasing the risk of a traumatic brain injury with my skull contacting a metal pillar.

As to the OP, if I was looking to trade it in, I would leave it as is. If I was going to keep it (with that mileage, I would be leaning towards a newer ride) then I would get it fixed. I also think that most auto manufacturers recommend that airbag (and SRS systems in general) should be inspected at 10 year intervals. I am not sure how much credence I give in this recommendation considering the fact that the system has redundant backup and monitoring systems.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:48 AM   #5
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Unplug the idiot light. Most of our lives were without air bags.

Unfortunately dealers eat customers' pocketbooks on such specialized, small repairs. Then they wonder why customers to elsewhere for service.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:58 AM   #6
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Unplug the idiot light.
You are making the assumption the OP is comfortable with locating and pulling fuses or dissecting under-dash wiring harnesses. Do what thousands of others have done - place a small piece of black electrical tape directly over the offending light.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:25 AM   #7
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That vehicle is headed to auction. I wouldn't put anything in it.
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As to the OP, if I was looking to trade it in, I would leave it as is. If I was going to keep it (with that mileage, I would be leaning towards a newer ride) then I would get it fixed.
+1

IMHO, the best approach here would be to find a lightly used, recent model-year vehicle with much of the latest safety technology (such as rear cross-traffic camera/alerts, lane departure alerts, forward collision avoidance, etc.) and negotiate aggressively with a local dealer on the all-inclusive, out-the-door price, including the trade in. Ultimately, you don't really care exactly what dollar amount you get for the trade, just the total out-of-pocket cost.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:31 AM   #8
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Well, one thing you could consider would be to ignore the light and always wear a seat belt. Driver & passenger front air bags are completely unnecessary if the individual is properly belted. And how many times in your life have you been in a crash where air bags provided some safety value?

It's really a matter of evaluating the risk and its probability.
Once for me. That's enough. I don't know how badly I'd have been hurt without the airbag, but with it I wasn't hurt at all. OK, not totally true, it bent back the white part of my pinkie fingernail.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:40 AM   #9
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The last car I traded in had a faulty transmission. It was electronic and I was told that it could simply stop any time with no warning. Five year old car that I did not really like.

Parked the car. Shopped for a new one. Then took my 'trade' in for a trade in number. It probably went right to auction after the trade.

I would never put a great deal of money into a car that I was not planning to keep. Rather than put the money into the old one, I put it against the new vehicle.
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Old 05-29-2018, 10:42 AM   #10
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The last car I traded in had a faulty transmission. It was electronic and I was told that it could simply stop any time with no warning. Five year old car that I did not really like.

Parked the car. Shopped for a new one. Then took my 'trade' in for a trade in number. It probably went right to auction after the trade.

I would never put a great deal of money into a car that I was not planning to keep. Rather than put the money into the old one, I put it against the new vehicle.

I did, though, put $1100. into my Toyota when it was 12 years old and for that got another 70K miles out of it prior to passing it along. But I liked the Toyota far better than my five year old ex company Ford Taurus heap.
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:24 AM   #11
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Bought a lightly used Mercedes SUV Sunday (36000KM) and traded our 2005 Escape with a burned out front turn signal. Others are right. Straight to the auction.
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:36 AM   #12
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Unplug the idiot light. Most of our lives were without air bags.

Unfortunately dealers eat customers' pocketbooks on such specialized, small repairs. Then they wonder why customers to elsewhere for service.
Not an option - my primary front seat passenger is my 16 year old. The mom guilt would eat me alive.

ugh...I keep cash for stuff like this but this year's cash was for a roof!
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:55 AM   #13
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You can also stop by the Auto Zone and asked them to read the codes for the air bag system. It could just be a bad sensor or wire connection. The scanner needs to be a medium size that can read codes for SRS
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:12 PM   #14
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I would not 'fix' the car. Either drive it as is or trade it in as is. I have been driving with the air bag light on for over a year. Not worth the money to fix IMO. I wear a seat belt and I have no concerns about my air bag being functional. For about 3 years I have had the check engine light on. It's because of the Cat not working properly. It's a cost of at least $1500 maybe $2K if I need oxygen sensor(s) too. Not fixing it does not affect my ability to drive so it's not worth fixing. YMMV
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:25 PM   #15
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Not here to argue with you, but there is plenty of evidence that contradicts your assertion; particularly with side-impact protection. Personally, I have no intention of increasing the risk of a traumatic brain injury with my skull contacting a metal pillar. ...
No argument. If you re-read my post you will see that I specifically mention front air bags, which IIRC even the air bag zealots agree are unnecessary for a properly belted person.

Side air bags are another matter. Belts don't help there so in certain rare impacts they can be A Very Good Thing. But risk management includes evaluation of probabilities. If we ignore probabilities and looked only at worst cases we'd probably never get out of bed in the morning. IMO the probability that I will have a serious side-impact crash in the next few years is near zero. The OP will have to estimate his own probabilities if he goes the "ignore" option.

Just for reference, a quick Google search produced NHTSA numbers indicating that all air bags save a couple of thousand lives per year versus over 30,000 crash deaths per year. (And any bureaucracy is biased towards overstating the benefits of their regulator decisions.) So they are nice but they are not nearly as big a deal as some people think.
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:30 PM   #16
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That vehicle is headed to auction. I wouldn't put anything in it.
+1
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:39 PM   #17
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Kind of sad on all cars , the engine and drivetrains are easily good for 250,000 miles but the little things can nickel dime you into insanity . As I talked earlier DW negotiated a deal on a Kia that to me was very good 16,600 .00 bumper to bumper everything warranty . Drivetrain guaranteed 10 years . She drives a red and white Kia Soul , not many around but she loves it . Her old car was needing AC work and I think possibly new wheel bearings .
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:49 PM   #18
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Kind of sad on all cars , the engine and drivetrains are easily good for 250,000 miles...........
Seems like engines are good for 250K if maintained, but transmissions can be a weak link.
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:49 PM   #19
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No argument. If you re-read my post you will see that I specifically mention front air bags, which IIRC even the air bag zealots agree are unnecessary for a properly belted person.

Side air bags are another matter. Belts don't help there so in certain rare impacts they can be A Very Good Thing. But risk management includes evaluation of probabilities. If we ignore probabilities and looked only at worst cases we'd probably never get out of bed in the morning. IMO the probability that I will have a serious side-impact crash in the next few years is near zero. The OP will have to estimate his own probabilities if he goes the "ignore" option.

Just for reference, a quick Google search produced NHTSA numbers indicating that all air bags save a couple of thousand lives per year versus over 30,000 crash deaths per year. (And any bureaucracy is biased towards overstating the benefits of their regulator decisions.) So they are nice but they are not nearly as big a deal as some people think.
Until you or a loved one is one of the couple thousand...JMO not having functional car airbags is a case of being miserly, not frugal. Who are the airbag zealots?
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Old 05-29-2018, 02:52 PM   #20
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Who are the airbag zealots?
I remember a number of years ago, Tucker Carlson had to petition some government agency to deactivate the airbags on his car. Something about government overreach.
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