My wife *just barely* got to work this morning, about 50 miles away, when her car started puking coolant. It’s a 2007 X3 with 207,000 miles.

Now, we recently had the water pump and thermostat replaced, but that was several hundred miles ago; however, I am hopeful that it’s just a slipped hose connection or something. The temp didn’t spike (she was pulling into her office complex at the time) so we aren’t looking at an overheat.

We’ve been talking about upping our AAA membership to Plus so we’ll have 100 miles of towing. This could have brought the car (and her) right back to our house where she could have taken a different car. Diagnose and repair later. However, we failed to do that in advance, so we’re stuck with 5 miles of towing. Annnnnd the nearby shop to her work (where we bought the car) is 8.8 miles from her work. We were stupid not upgrade AAA sooner, with her 50 mile commute (one way) and two aging BMWs as our primary cars. Hell, our third car is a 6 year old Volvo with nearly 100k. Hardly “old” but also far from new.

So I called AAA and asked (in more words than this, very nicely): “We’ve been members for nearly 10 years, haven’t used your services FOR 5 YEARS and we just upped our membership this morning. Can we please have it flatbedded 8.8 miles? ” They said yes. THANK YOU!

With our older cars we’re choosing to make repairs rather than car payments, but last month was one where it hurt, due to a few simultaneous repairs.

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So here’s hoping it’s simple.

[UPDATE: Welp, it’s Tuesday and I heard from the shop]

The Good News: The car didn’t overheat; it appears to have just blown a coolant hose. OK, replace that one and the other obvious one just like it, put coolant in, bleed it, pressure test it.... and it will run again no worries.

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The Bad News: There are a few other things that they pointed out are either in need of attention now, or soon. The shop I use locally is very good, but I don’t push them to fix every tiny thing, and they don’t push back. The shop it’s at now... they specialize in BMWs and they’re concerned for the future of this car, for a bunch of reasons I won’t detail entirely here. It’s not one single big thing, although they are concerned about the lifespan of the transfer case (I think that’s hit or miss), but otherwise it’s things like oil leaks that aren’t catastrophic, but the labor to fix them all would really add up. I don’t have time to DIY all this stuff.

We have two other cars that are fine: the 2012 Volvo and my E46. So we can comfortably sell the X3 and not miss a beat. I even can drive my truck a bunch over the summer, so we can take our time finding my wife a new commuter car, which I think is the next move. Something that will still fit all four of us, but more efficient, and still fun to drive. I’m pushing hard for a GTI, even though I’ve technically never driven one.

The shop where the X3 is now has a red GTI they’d let us drive, but we don’t want a red car. I want to send my wife out there to drive it, at least, and go from there. They also have a couple Minis, which my wife loves (the idea of), but hasn’t driven either. She will miss the X3 but I think she would love a GTI. Her previous car was a 2005 Volvo S40 6-speed manual/ AWD / T5. She loved that car, as did I. An S60 wouldn’t be a bad option, but no manuals. I’m ready not to have two aging BMWs in our fleet. And we both adore the new V60 but it’s too much to spend right now.

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Meanwhile, does anyone want a 207,000 mile 6-speed manual X3? With a brand new water pump, thermostat, and coolant hoses?


The next step will be deciding amongst these options:

- sell it on CL and be totally upfront and forthcoming about its possible future.

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- sell it on CL and only answer questions when asked; maybe don’t be overly detailed, and leave it up to a buyer to have an inspection done if they choose.

- send it to auction and get $1,500 - $2k for it. Guilt-free, walk away.

Then it will be a matter of how long until we replace it. The beauty is, we can wait for the exact right car, because we have 2.5* other functional vehicles. If there’s ever a good time for this, it’s when I’m about to daily the truck from June-August.

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*Truck is not a good daily kid-hauler. I can drive it to work because we have a nanny in the summer who comes to our house. Hell, I could bike to work without much trouble.