Mr. Saturn decided it wanted to leave me hot and very wet for the summer, and now the decision has to be made whether to keep it alive or send it to help other Saturns live on their life.

Backstory: AC is nice in the summer, Mr. Saturn does not have AC at the moment. A systems check found holes in both the AC line and the condenser due to a screw being incorrectly inserted by a previous repair (unfortunately that was at minimum over 2 years ago and I cannot pinpoint exactly which part could have caused it). Both of those parts were replace and -$700 later...

What you are seeing there is the compressor end cap separating from the part just enough to evacuate all of the AC system. It happens at 2lb of refrigerant. The shop quoted me an asinine price (~$1000) to replace it to which I rejected.

This leaves me with a few options

  1. Invest nearly $1k to professionally replace the compressor* (yuck)
  2. Invest $250 and an afternoon sometime to replace the compressor myself*
  3. Drive the remainder of the summer without AC (doable as I have a 10 min work commute, but anything longer distance will be unpleasant). It will go through winter just fine.
  4. Buy new car

*It was noted by the AC tech that the compressor failed so hard they could not adequately check the remainder of the system. He did note that cold air came out the vents for the short time it was able to hold it.


Options 2 and 4 seem to be the most logical. Option 2 illicits the typical response of “is it worth putting money and time into.” Well it is a 17 year old car with 197000+ miles. It will be worth $2 trade regardless of how nice it is. Recent work I have done include replacing the windshield wiper mechanics, power steering rack, radiator, headlight, and all 4 struts. I hate to have all the work go to waste, but that is part of the risk. To be fair the most recent stuff I have done myself, and it has been fun turning a wrench and learning the mechanics of car parts, so putting the time hasn’t been wasteful for me. However, I could not do any of this alone, so idk if it was wasteful to my friends. Performance wise the engine has been indestructible, in the 9 years of ownership I have only had to do valve cover gaskets and a serpentine.

In an ideal world I would just buy a new car and keep this Saturn because trade-in is so low it barely makes a dent in the payments. I could just keep it and have it as my first piece in the barn collection my grandkids find when I am 80 (who knows, maybe Saturns will rise in value, haha, no they won’t who am I kidding). Unfortunately, my current living situation makes that very difficult as I do not have the physical space to keep it, not to mention the responsibilities/costs of holding it.


Option 4 seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I really was hoping to build up at least a years of real world job money before having to make such a decision, but alas things happen. I am perfectly capable of purchasing a new-to-me car, I just wanted some more money in the bank. Right now the leading contenders are the...

Buick Regal


and the Jetta GLI,


I have some others as cheaper “safe” cars (read as boring), but those two are ones I want, and are affordable.

Talking Pros and Cons...

If I were to repair the car it would be a total investment of ~$900 to $1500 in costs depending on how I do it. My new car searches have been for under 20k total and $350 a month (trying more toward 300). Using 300/month I would need to drive the Saturn for a minimum of 3-5 months just to match the repair, and 6- 10 months to recoup the cost. That is not a problem for me, but that is dependent on nothing else going wrong.


Surely nothing else will...

What are your thoughts Oppo? Also if you have any opinions/recommendations on Regals and GLIs I wouldn’t mind it either.