Ugh. I just need to vent about car related stuff.

So I got a wild hair (hare?) recently for a new car, honestly I was just kind of jealous of my wife’s new car. I mean technically it’s ours, but you all, at least you married folks, know how the old saying goes.

Anyways, I’d looked at a few 4 banger Camaro LS modes online and they seemed to be a lot cheaper than I had anticipated. And this being Labor Day weekend, prices were even better, and I finally found a salesman at a dealer about 30 minutes away who seemed like he was willing to play ball. So I convinced Mrs. Snuze to go with me to take a look. I wanted her there as a buffer and a voice of reason. She’s very smart with money, but also supportive of me and tries to understand my car passion. So I think if I fell in love she’d be supportive and if I wasn’t totally into it she’d pull me back to reality and convince me I didn’t need to spend the money on something I wasn’t totally happy with.

Well we went and looked at the Camaro and test drove it and it was okay. It ran pretty good, and while I didn’t get to sling it around and push limits, it seemed like the handling and brakes were good. The clutch was a little wonky, and the fit and finish of the interior, while not awful, left a bit to be desired. I mean I know it’s a base model, and it’s a Camaro, not a luxury car, but I still think it could be a little better.

Also, the whole time the salesman kept referring to me as “bro”, which was annoying but I let it slide. But then we got back to the dealership and he wanted to talk numbers. I was still curious to see where he was at price wise, so we went inside and he made a grave mistake and insulted my wife, though I don’t think he realized he did it. He made a comment like “well, you took care of her first and got her a new car, now it’s time to get something for yourself.” She took this really poorly, my wife is very independent, and we are a team, the Terrain wasn’t “me taking care of her”, it was our purchase. Luckily, before she could lose it(which I kind of wanted to see because she is usually extremely reserved) the sales or finance manager or whoever came over to talk to me for a minute, and he was nice so he kind of saved the day. After that we left and I told them we would discuss over lunch and I’d get back to them today or tomorrow.

On the way home we talked about it, she was super mad about the whole thing, but I eventually calmed her down. I told her I wasn’t totally in love with the Camaro and didn’t want to buy it, and since she had such a bad experience I certainly wouldn’t buy it from them. And then we talked about why I wanted a new car, and then other stuff, and she decompressed, and then we just had fun spending time together as we made our way to the “middle eastern food festival” that we go to every labor day weekend. And I just enjoyed driving the little Cruze. It was never my dream car, but it’s been a good little companion.

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The festival was slammed, it’s usually busy but this year was INSANE, so we cut up a side street to turn around and decided to go to another spot we like for lunch, when I noticed the the Cruze threw a CEL. I got mad and she made the comment that it was just trying to get back at me for cheating on it. We laughed and went on about our day and I didn’t think much more of it.

Fast forward to a few hours ago and I was home and got the laptop and USB/OBDII cable out to go check it out. It’s the dreaded P0299, “Underboost Condition”. Cruzes have a known issue where the guide for the internal wastegate linkage fails and the only way to replace it is to replace the whole turbo unit. I know this because I already did it once at 96k miles, fortunately under warranty. The new turbo was supposed to be a “new and improved” design that wouldn’t have this issue. I’m at 126k miles, so 30k and the “new and improved” turbo is cooked. And I’m out of warranty. I cleared the code, took it out for a drive for about 45 minutes and the code came back. It’s behaving exactly the same way it did the last time the turbo failed. The good-ish news is that this problem is progressive, it didn’t leave me stranded and I got it home. It only “hiccups” now and then, but it will get worse and eventually it will completely fail and the car will be undrivable. I can probably get a few more days out of it but at this point its a roll of the dice.

So now I’m in a dilemma - do I replace the turbo or replace the car? I could attempt to replace the turbo myself, it costs about $750 but I’m very leery of this. I mean I know I have the know how and mechanical skill to do the basic task, but I’ve been reading up and it’s common to snap studs, break the PCV vent at the turbo inlet, and/or snap the turbo oil and cooling lines that have gotten brittle with age and heat. It can easily spiral into a major undertaking, and get significantly more expensive and end up taking a lot longer than day.

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Another option is take it to the shop. I don’t know any good, reputable independent shops around here but I’m sure I could ask around. Of course I’d also have to get on someones schedule and if it’s more than a few days I run the risk of the turbo failing completely while I’m out on the DC beltway or something. The Mrs. and I also work in different directions and different schedules, so making it work with one car is very hard. We’ve done it for a day but doing it for a week or whatever would be very stressful on both of us. So I’d probably end up with a rental car, another expense. The other option is take it to the dealer I bought it from, they are good and have loaner cars, but their shop rate is higher, so at best it’s a draw and maybe even a bit more. Regardless, going this route I’m looking at minimum of $1500 and closer to $2,000 based on what other Cruze people have paid.

But the car is only worth about $3,000, so is it worth sinking over half it’s value back into it? And what if the turbo fails again? Maybe I was right all along to start looking at new cars.

But then the question is, what do I get to replace it? The Camaro was a bit disappointing, so what else is out there? My requirements for a car are pretty easy, 6 speed stick and decent gas mileage, say 30mpg highway or better. I’d like to get something fun, hence the 4 banger Camaro, so now I’m honestly thinking about going to test a Mustang Ecoboost. They have 2 at the dealership right by my house and I’d previously talked to a salesman there about an Edge and he was really great to work with, though we ended up liking the Terrain better. But maybe I’ll see if he’s around tomorrow.

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So it’s been a hell of a day. Thank god for scotch. I’m off to bed, I got some thinking to do, and maybe some car shopping tomorrow.