Will my car need another repair within 6 months? [M$5000 Subsidy]
Sep 2

I bought a very used car from a sketchy car guy for around $1000. (He was very clear that we were buying it "as is" and he was not to be held responsible for any problems.)

Over the year or so we've had it, there have been a lot of issues we needed to fix. The ignition didn't work right, so a new one needed to be installed. Most of the buttons for things like the windows didn't work, so we got new ones. The windshield was broken, so we replaced it. The heater/air conditioner control stopped working a few months in, but I was able to fix that myself after dissassembling the dash. The battery died over the winter and wouldn't hold a charge, so we got a new battery, and that one died too. The third battery seems to be doing ok, hasn't had any problems in the past several months. The physical keys don't work as it seems the locks were changed or something, but the electric fob works fine so we haven't bothered to address that. The exhaust tube thing fell off the car and started dragging on the road, so the car place had to secure it back up.

Now the catalytic converter needs to be replaced, which will cost about $800, and we need to decide whether to pay for this or just give up and get a new car.

There are two interpretations of the current situation:

  • Clearly this car has a lot of problems, and if we fix this one, more problems are likely to continue appearing.

  • There are only a finite number of things that can go wrong with a car, so the more of them we've addressed recently, the less likely it is that another will crop up.

This market resolves YES if another problem that costs at least $50 CAD or the equivalent amount of effort appears within the next 6 months of use. (Ignoring exogenous issues like a car crash.)

It resolves NO if that doesn't happen, and it resolves N/A if we decide to get rid of the car and don't have it for another 6 months.

I would like an accurate answer to this question, so I've subsidized it with M$5000. If you have additional questions about the car or the circumstances of its purchase, please ask.

A "needed" repair is anything that seems serious enough that we decide to pay for it. (Or to get rid of the car to avoid paying for.) I won't bet in this market.

Further updates will be posted in the comments.

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Just tried starting it up after not using it for the winter, battery seems to be dead. Charging it with our charger didn't work, but jumping it might, I'll try that later. (I think we had the same issue last year and jumping it worked fine.)

sold Ṁ1,992 NO

@IsaacKing This car is a roller-coaster

@Joshua Yep. If we're able to get it started with only minor trouble that's not a big deal, if we have to take it into the shop that'll resolve this YES. It seems to have some issue holding a battery charge, but I'm not sure what; we've already replaced the battery twice.

bought Ṁ2,000 NO


bought Ṁ750 YES

Resolves, @IsaacKing?

@chrisjbillington Nah, the car didn't break down, we just want something newer.

@IsaacKing could you resolve this one?

@chrisjbillington We don't use that car over the winter, so it hasn't seen 6 months of use yet.

@IsaacKing Thanks. Are you using it again now winter is over, and how far off 6 months of use are we currently?

@chrisjbillington I think like 4 months to go, ish.

@IsaacKing I guess this resolves some way? It's been 6 months.

@Mqrius We don't use that car over the winter, so it hasn't seen 6 months of use yet.


@jacksonpolack We don't use that car over the winter, so it hasn't seen 6 months of use yet.

Update: The engine is idling much better after the other mechanic fixed the spark plug (it no longer dies when the car is stopped), but it's still pretty rough compared to a normal car. Very noticeable 2-10hz vibrations at certain speeds.

(That mechanic visit doesn't count towards this market because it was addressing the already-mentioned engine problem. If the same problem worsens and we have to take it in again, that'll resolve this YES.)

Oh, it also has a tendency to squeal when braking or during tight turns. Didn't seem like a serious issue so I never looked into it further.

When the car is idling, what color is the smoke coming out of the exhaust? If you brake without holding the steering wheel, does the car tend to turn right or left or does it go straight while braking?

The car goes straight while braking if I'm not holding the steering wheel, though I only tested at low speeds.

Can't really see the exhaust, so I don't know how to tell.

@IsaacKing I take this to mean the exhaust is transparent

Can you give us make, model, mileage for the car

@JamesMcGirk 2002 Nissan Sentra. Too lazy to go check the mileage right now.

~123,000 miles on the odometer.

predicts YES

@IsaacKing Thanks for sharing, this is actually good information because that's not that much mileage for the car, so it could be in better condition than its age suggested. I drove a '99 Firebird for years and it barely needed maintenance because it had a [legendarily solid] 3600cc GM engine. FWIW, if you have family or drive in snow, definitely get something safer and newer.

@JamesMcGirk ...Because it would be really bad if my family dies, but less bad if I do?

predicts YES

@IsaacKing LOL, basically yes! I was more thinking along the lines of being stuck in a snow drift with a screaming toddler