Tell me what to do with my Saturn (car trade-in)

Next week I pay off my [del]beloved[/del] very well-liked Saturn. I bought it a number of years ago with something like 14k miles on it and haven’t even added 50k more. It’s a great car.

But here’s the thing: some Saturn parts are quite difficult to find. Apparently a lot of shops and insurance companies have stockpiled parts. Earlier this year, the driver’s side seatbelt retractor failed and my shop wasn’t able to find a new one. I had to hunt one down on eBay, from a junkyard car with 150k miles on it. As best I could tell, it was the only for sale anywhere on the internet at the time.

So I figure the car is a ticking time bomb. One day, something will need fixing and I won’t be able to find a part, or the only available one will be in bad shape.

Blue Book pegs it at right around 3k in trade-in value.

Normally, I’d drive the car for at least a few more years to get value out of not having a payment, but the prospect of something going terribly wrong could put me in a position where I lose both the trade-in value and the payment-free years.

So what say you, Dopers? Do I put the old girl out to pasture immediately, or do I take my chances and drive it into the ground even if the “into the ground” period could come much sooner than might otherwise be the case?

My daily driver is a 2002 Saturn with 255K miles.

I have never had difficulty getting parts.

I say, drive it until the wheels fall off. :slight_smile:

I would assume that most of the common engine and drivetrain parts have been stockpiled, while the oddball things (like seatbelt retractors) aren’t. So probably for most typical failures you’ll be okay. If the water pump, alternator, etc go out, you can get a replacement. But as you found out, if something more unusual breaks you may need to scrounge around for a replacement.

Go to one of the auto part store websites and search for parts for your car. Like autozone or whatever. You can enter your car model and then see what they carry for various parts like fuel pump, cooling systems, etc. Likely you’ll see that they have many choices.

For an older car, it helps to become familiar with the salvage yards in your area as well as online used car part websites. Repair shops often don’t want to do a lot of work to find an odd part, so you may have to track it down yourself.

My '96 Saturn lasted 14 years and 160 K miles. You have a lot of life left in this car with decent care. You didn’t say what type of Saturn you have, or the year, but they were popular enough that you should be able to find parts. I’d say keep it until it starts giving you trouble.
They are great cars. My first one, a '93, saved my wife’s life.

Keep it until it dies, they are excellent cars.

Yeah, I tried this with the seat belt part. My vehicle is an '08 Aura, which (if I recall right) shares a number parts with the '08 Chevy Malibu. But none of the yards in a pretty wide radius had either of those vehicles on the lot.

I had a reverse lock problem with a seat belt retractor on a Suzuki Vitara. I went nuts trying to find a replacement. Chevy Trackers are basically the same car but the belt parts from them would not fit. Just because manufacturers say vehicles share parts doesn’t make it so, I guess.

they don’t make pintos any more, but you can still buy parts for them.

generally, as long as you don’t have a need for new, o.e. interior parts, you’ll be fine. this applies to almost all cars that are out of production.

Well, hell, my “new” vehicle is 15 years old this year…

You’re worrying about a future event that may or may not happen in the near term.

Also - you were to get the part you needed. I say keep the car if it’s running well, keep up with maintenance, maybe put some money aside each month for it (either maintenance or replacement fund), and replace it when you actually need to do so.

If you do need replacement parts ask your local mechanics or shops - when I need new bits for my vehicles I do that and so far my mechanics have been good about directing me to where I need to go. Not everything is on the internet, sometimes you just need to go to the junkyard/auto salvage in person.

It’s a GM car. There is no lack of parts for something as common as a Saturn, especially a seatbelt retractor that was surely shared with a dozen other GM cars.

Drive it until it becomes unreliable, then sell it to one of the many Saturn fanboys (they do exist) and get something new.

Another vote for drive it until you can’t.

This. I started having parts issues for my Vue a few years back and while I like my Outback a lot, it just isn’t as good (or as good a fit for me) as the Vue was. And that whole dent-resistant/dent-proofing ------ I seriously miss that.

when your car starts aging out of OE parts support, Rock Auto and LKQ become your best friends.

And yet another vote for driving it until it becomes cost-prohibitive. Don’t solve a problem that you don’t actually have. Yes, I get the quandary of if something goes terribly wrong, you may lose the value. But it’s a GM, and most parts shouldn’t be too hard to find.

Are you still driving that sweet '68 fastback Mustang? :smiley:

My Saturn SL2 turns 25 this year.

I no longer trust it for significant trips, but use it as a neighborhood runabout or to take the dog to local parks for hikes.

I have no idea what the mileage is – many years ago the odometer broke at 114,000 miles. I was told that for this model, one has to replace the entire steering column to replace the odometer, and that the law doesn’t require an odometer, so I never replaced it.

Biggest regret right now is that when someone vandalized it by braking the rear windshield several years back, water got in before I got it replaced, and now the ceiling material is slowly separating and hanging down.

I will need to replace it sooner rather than later, but for now, it supplements our other car.

This is a standard GM (and, to be fair, other mfrs as well) problem; the foam backing on the headliner material disintegrates due to heat and age, and the headliner fabric sags. The best fix is to go to an upholsterer and have them replace the fabric completely, but that can be pricy. :frowning:

Keep it!

I just Googled “2008 Aura seatbelt retractor” and got immediate results ranging from $22 - $50. The high price was for a genuine GM, new, OEM part. You may have to get parts online, but they’re available. My daily driver is a 32 year old sports car and I have yet to be unable to find a needed part.

Thanks for the advice, folks. I’ll hold onto it for a while longer.

Regardless of what the blue book value is, if it’s a 2008 model it’s auction fodder regardless of how many miles it has. You’ll get about $2K for it as a trade-in if you’re lucky. Just drive it.