July 21, 2024


Choose Automotive

Is my 12-year-old car worth repairing?



John Paul, AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader having issues with a low-mileage 2010 Toyota.

The 2010 Toyota Camry. Toyota

Q. I have several questions about my 130,000-mile 2010 Toyota Camry. Over the past several months, the check engine light (code PO420) has been coming on repeatedly, and each time our mechanic has read the same code which indicates a problem with the catalytic converter. Over this time, we have replaced the oxygen sensors, cleaned the PCV system, and replaced the exhaust system including the catalytic converter. The engine burns about a quart of oil per 600-800 miles, and we’ve added Techron to the gas. Is the car repairable or is it time to send it to the junkyard?

A. Typically, a 12-year-old Toyota with only 130,000 miles should have plenty of life left. One possible issue is the replacement catalytic converter. It has been my experience that some aftermarket catalytic converters are problematic. The PO420 code indicates an issue with converter efficiency, and I suspect the aftermarket replacement is the problem. The oil consumption issue should just be monitored, and the level topped off between oil changes. Almost any engine that uses oil can last a very long time if the oil level is kept full. 

Q. I recently had my 2016 Jeep Compass’s oil changed at the dealer. The car calls for 5W-20 conventional oil, and in the past, I always asked for 5W-20 synthetic oil. I noticed when I got home the repair order said they used 0W-20 synthetic oil. Is that okay or should I have them put in the 5W-20 oil? 

A. Whenever possible I like to use the recommended grade and viscosity of oil. The correct oil, according to the database I use as well as the Jeep Compass owner’s manual, does list 5W-20 oil, and that is the oil I would use. Will the 0W-20 oil cause any harm? Not likely, but it is always best to use the manufacturer’s recommended oil. 

Q. I have 34,000 miles on my older Toyota Corolla and my auto mechanic tells me that tune ups are obsolete and spark plugs and other components are good for 100,000 miles. What should be done with my car – transmission fluid drain, change fuel filter, anything else?

A. If this were my car, I would change the oil at least once per year and use a good repair shop. A quality repair shop will usually do an inspection of all of the vital fluids, air filter, belts, and cooling system. At 34,000 miles, your car could be close to needing brakes and tires. Depending on its age, changing the brake fluid every 3-5 years is a good idea as well as a yearly battery check. If the car does need tires, either due to age or tread wear, having the wheels aligned makes sense.

Q. So many websites are enamored with the Kia Telluride, claiming it will be much more reliable than a Honda Pilot, to use one example. I remember when Volvo first introduced the newer generation XC90 in 2016. It was hyped as SUV of the Year by various sources at the time, but has since been revealed as a very problematic vehicle. Without a real history of extended miles driven, what are these claims of new introductory cars really worth? The same goes for rates of depreciation as well, it would seem. What do you think?

A. You are correct that without repair/owner satisfaction data, you’re only looking at part of the new car equation. The Kia Telluride is a very good vehicle and functions extremely well. From its ride and handling to its infotainment system, the Telluride is well thought out. Still, it is too new to know how that same vehicle will perform five to ten years down the road. Regarding depreciation, Kia vehicles do depreciate faster than a comparable Toyota or Honda, but I believe that has more to do (perhaps unfairly) with perception of the brand rather than actual vehicle quality. 

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.


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