Author Topic: When Should I Replace My Car?  (Read 1716 times)

ZapRowsdower

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When Should I Replace My Car?
« on: January 06, 2018, 09:48:01 AM »
Hi All,

I'm struggling to figure out when to bite the bullet and replace an older car.

I have a 2006 Honda Civic Coupe - just under 200k miles - which is starting to cost me a few thousand (2,500-ish dollars) a year to repair vs. getting a reasonable used car like a newer Honda Fit for something like $13,000. For reference, I just found a 2016 Honda Fit with 28k on it for a little more than 13,000, which seems like a great deal.

The amount I'm spending just in repairs per year (ignoring insurance, routine maintenance, gas) is now about twice or more than the car's blue book value (Blue Book quote for the old car is roughly $1,000-$1,300).

I've always heard the adage that if you're spending more on repairs to the car than the car is worth, its time to replace the car, which makes sense when looking at the car as an asset.

But to me, it seems smarter (and still potentially cheaper) to spend the money to repair the car, drive it another year (hopefully), and invest the money saved by not replacing the car that year. Or is it smarter to get the used car and hope for a low monthly payment on it (less than $210 per month, since my general repair cost averaged out over the year ends up being roughly $210)?

Is this thinking sound?

Some additional considerations: I currently have a very short and easy car commute (8 miles round trip) and, when the weather is good, I tend bike to work a few times a week, so my car use isn't super high, with the exception of a few longer distance trips per month.

Any ideas for a non-car savvy, fledgling Mustachian is greatly appreciated!

Michael in ABQ

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2018, 06:58:14 PM »
Why not replace it with something around the $5-6k mark that you could pay for in cash. I'm not a fan of debt, even cheap debt, especially on a depreciating asset like a car. At that price you'll probably have some maintenance expenses but far less than you do now. In a couple of years you can turn around and sell it for maybe $3-4k and then upgrade a bit further to something with fewer miles.
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Syonyk

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2018, 08:26:31 PM »
I'm struggling to figure out when to bite the bullet and replace an older car.

What are the repairs?  Can you detail them?  Around 200k, there's a lot of "Stuff that wears out and needs replacement, and probably needed replacement 70k miles ago."  The cost of those repairs isn't always ongoing.  If you replace the shocks and bushings at 200k miles, they'll last the rest of the life of a typical car.

I've owned many "end of life" vehicles (I literally saved one from the junkyard, and I've pulled another one from the junkyard's "eh, some schmuck might pay us for this wreck..." row).  But I also work on my own.

If the body and frame are in good shape rust-wise, there's no real reason to scrap a car.  You can just keep repairing stuff indefinitely.  However, if you're in a rust prone area and the car is rusting badly, there's basically no way to fix the cancer, and that'll put a car in the junkyard when it gets bad enough.

Have you considered learning to do some of your own work?  Doing repairs yourself for a range of issues saves a huge amount of money!
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alsoknownasDean

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2018, 10:55:13 PM »
What's going wrong with it? A 2006 car should have plenty of life left in it (unless it's got 250k+ miles). I've got a car from 2002 that's still been reliable :)

onemorebike

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2018, 05:52:46 AM »
What's going wrong with it? A 2006 car should have plenty of life left in it (unless it's got 250k+ miles). I've got a car from 2002 that's still been reliable :)
+1

I've been driving a 2002 Honda Odyssey and have posted similar questions around here. I have similar repair bills, but mostly.im looking for better gas mileage while maintaining some storage room.

Fwiw, I've decided to keep mine for now as I near 200,000 for the same reason stated above - I've probably made most of the repairs at this point.

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BlueMR2

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2018, 06:42:28 AM »
My experience is having a large chunk of expenses roughly every 100k miles with close to regular maintenance in between.  We've got a '91 with 288k miles, a '95 with 140ish k miles and a '02 rapidly approaching 200k miles...

ZapRowsdower

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 05:24:33 PM »
So to detail my car maintenance a bit more, I just had to replace a fuel sensor ($430), fix a leak in the side timing cover ($883.83) and some more routine stuff like wheel alignment, brake fluid flush, power steering fluid exchange. The final bill for all of that was $1,888 which was a hard hit all at once. Also, just a few months ago, I had to replace the starter motor (about $400 if memory serves).

I guess its been an unusually bad string of luck with my car lately and its interesting to hear from others with older vehicles about sudden surges in car maintenance at certain intervals. It sounds like I should be expecting these surges since I'm just under 200k on my car.

One thing I should point out is that I had the engine block replaced on the vehicle about 5 years ago. Thankfully, that issue was a known defect and was completely covered by Honda. I'm guessing that means I should expect a longer lifetime for the car, engine-wise at least?

I'd be interested in learning how to do some of this maintenance myself but feel like the time involved and the amount of tools and garage space I would need to do it are prohibitive. I'm renting a room out of a townhouse in a D.C. suburb, so I think the best I could manage is learning how to do oil changes.

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2018, 05:41:03 PM »
So to detail my car maintenance a bit more, I just had to replace a fuel sensor ($430), fix a leak in the side timing cover ($883.83) and some more routine stuff like wheel alignment, brake fluid flush, power steering fluid exchange. The final bill for all of that was $1,888 which was a hard hit all at once. Also, just a few months ago, I had to replace the starter motor (about $400 if memory serves).

I guess its been an unusually bad string of luck with my car lately and its interesting to hear from others with older vehicles about sudden surges in car maintenance at certain intervals. It sounds like I should be expecting these surges since I'm just under 200k on my car.

One thing I should point out is that I had the engine block replaced on the vehicle about 5 years ago. Thankfully, that issue was a known defect and was completely covered by Honda. I'm guessing that means I should expect a longer lifetime for the car, engine-wise at least?

I'd be interested in learning how to do some of this maintenance myself but feel like the time involved and the amount of tools and garage space I would need to do it are prohibitive. I'm renting a room out of a townhouse in a D.C. suburb, so I think the best I could manage is learning how to do oil changes.

You need to find a different shop is what you need to do...

$400 for a starter is kind of absurd, unless you have to dismantle the front half of the car to replace it.

What fuel sensor?  Where?  That's still very high for a sensor of any sort.

And why on earth would you fix a leak in the side timing cover on a 200k miles car?  $800 is an awful lot of oil - unless this was like an active-pissing leak, not a drip.

Power steering fluid change?  Huh.  I... I mean, theoretically, such a thing is possible, I've just never heard of it actually being done.

Are you serving it at the dealership or something?
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nereo

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 06:59:32 PM »
Zap - and I say this with the best intentions - I think you got hosed. Some shop convinced you to do a bunch of maintenance you didnít really need and then charged you up the wazoo for it.  The brake-fluid flush and power steering flush are giant flashing signs. And I have no idea why fixing a leak would cost over $800.

First, find a more reputable shop.  Then (if you havenít already) read up on the scheduled maintenance for your vehicle.  Check whatís been done and what has not (including what should have been done 75k miles ago but was skipped).

Literally every car make and model now has an Internet forum.  Find yours and ask others whether theyíve had to replace these things and what the costs were.  Every car has problem spots, but with some understanding and phone calls replacing a fuel sensor might go from a $430 job to a $125 one (or you can do it yourself... typically someone has already posted step-by-step instructions on such things, and most sensors these days require little more than undoing an electric harness and replacing some tie-wraps.  You donít need a dedicated shop to do a lot of these things, just a parking lot and a few hand tools.

Finally getting back to your original question - when is a good time to replace the car? Well first get your repair expenses under control, and have it looked at by someone who isnít swindling you. Provided rust isnít a big issue you ought to have no problem getting a 2006 well past the 240k mark
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 07:58:03 AM by nereo »
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CharlesBronzee

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 10:38:14 PM »
Instead of thinking about the value of the car, I'd compare the "possible" repair costs going forward vs cost of replacing it.  I would also factor how safe you feel driving the car.

I had a corolla that I drove for 19 yrs. I got rid of it after there were various issues starting to come up at the same time.  Prior to that, it was just an issue here and there.

I also had a volvo that I drove for 13 years.  In hindsight, I should have gotten rid of it after the 3rd year.  An educated guess is all we can do.

Syonyk

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 07:55:18 AM »
I find the ďOops, Repairís are expensive, better get a new(er) car!Ē to usually be a justification of a desire for a new car anyway.

Those repair costs really are nuts though.
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civil4life

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 09:34:50 AM »
I am not very car savvy either for repairs.  But anytime I am recommended to do something to my vehicle I do the research online to see if that is a legit issue and how expensive it should be and how much work is really involved.  Most dealers want to switch out your air filter and charge an insane amount of money.  When the filter is about $10 to $15 dollars and takes less than 5 minutes to replace no tools involved.

In general it sounds like the vehicle is probably still in good shape to run a few more year.  In that time start putting away money monthly so when it is time to get another vehicle you can pay cash and not finance.
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mayodt

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 10:09:21 AM »
I did not fully run the numbers but I recently went through a similar issue as this and this is what I did:

I had a 2007 ford f150 that I owned for approximately 3 years and it was starting to have problems every 2-3 months worth $500+ it seemed. I considered selling it and buying a car for a while after starting to read this site but I just couldn't convince myself to sell the truck - probably since it was my first vehicle ever. Eventually while travelling for work I was stranded when a coolant hose blew and left me stranded on the side of the road. That was the final straw and I shortly after bought a 2015 Corolla and so far (~2 months) it has been great!

I was considering purchasing a newer vehicle with a payment plan but decided as Michael said earlier that I do not want to have debt for a depreciating asset, so I kept my search within my budget. I eventually found what seemed to be a pretty good deal on a 2015 corolla so I jumped on it (I also rifled through consumerreports.org and fueleconomy.gov to find the best rated vehicles for reliability and fuel economy and the corolla has been great for years, so I thought it would be a safe bet).

So, long story short, I think it is a good idea to upgrade your vehicle if you are not confident in it's ability to get you from A to B anymore. Don't go into debt for a vehicle, maybe stick it out with your current car for a little longer until you can buy a newer car outright (and only repair things that are essential, things like A/C aren't important) or buy a car a few years older, knowing it's reliability will most likely be less than a newer vehicle. Oh, and definitely get something fuel efficient (don't learn the hard way like I did with the f150 aha).

Good luck in whatever decision you make!

ZapRowsdower

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 06:21:15 AM »
Regarding the $800 dollar side time cover leak, that apparently required work on the pully, crankshaft, cover gasket, and oil pump (according to the bill). Most of that charge came from labor. Also, I had all this work done at a Honda dealership that was recommended to me by a car mechanic in the area.

Unfortunately, I have no idea who is reputable here (I'm new to the area) and don't have much to go on besides something like Yelp and word of mouth, both of which were positive.

Regarding the starter motor and fuel sensor, I did Google what those ought to cost for a Honda Civic and the amount I was charged ended up being pretty much what I found online, though I may not be finding the best resources. I'm certainly open to recommendations and will find a good forum for my car.

One problem with this scenario is how sudden it was. I took my car in to the shop to have a check engine light diagnosed and an airbag recall done. One hour later, I'm shown a laundry list of issues that all seemed pretty urgent (and of course were presented as urgent) so I felt didn't have much time to investigate the issues.

The good news is the car seems to be running quite well and I do still have full confidence in it getting me from A to B. Even if I did get gouged, it was still cheaper than getting a newer used car, and I'm still debt free. Not ideal, but not the worst outcome either. In fact I was still able to invest 10k into my first non-401k/IRA fund (VTSAX) despite the hit.

BlueMR2

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 11:30:31 AM »
$400 for a starter is kind of absurd, unless you have to dismantle the front half of the car to replace it.

That one piece at least sounds reasonable to me on a modern car.  Starter motors for run $250-300 for foreign cars and take 1-2 hours of labor (and $85-90/hr is typical rate).

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2018, 12:13:28 PM »
So to detail my car maintenance a bit more, I just had to replace a fuel sensor ($430), fix a leak in the side timing cover ($883.83) and some more routine stuff like wheel alignment, brake fluid flush, power steering fluid exchange. The final bill for all of that was $1,888 which was a hard hit all at once. Also, just a few months ago, I had to replace the starter motor (about $400 if memory serves).

I guess its been an unusually bad string of luck with my car lately and its interesting to hear from others with older vehicles about sudden surges in car maintenance at certain intervals. It sounds like I should be expecting these surges since I'm just under 200k on my car.

One thing I should point out is that I had the engine block replaced on the vehicle about 5 years ago. Thankfully, that issue was a known defect and was completely covered by Honda. I'm guessing that means I should expect a longer lifetime for the car, engine-wise at least?

I'd be interested in learning how to do some of this maintenance myself but feel like the time involved and the amount of tools and garage space I would need to do it are prohibitive. I'm renting a room out of a townhouse in a D.C. suburb, so I think the best I could manage is learning how to do oil changes.

Holy cow...i just asked for advice on my trashed car and noticed this.  Mine is a 2006 honda civic with cracked engine block....same issue you had, only it's now more than 10 years so they won't cover the repair.  A friend is coming over to take me to look at cars.  It is such bad timing...was going to fire soon and sell it to do international travel.

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2018, 03:29:45 PM »
$400 for a starter is kind of absurd, unless you have to dismantle the front half of the car to replace it.

That one piece at least sounds reasonable to me on a modern car.  Starter motors for run $250-300 for foreign cars and take 1-2 hours of labor (and $85-90/hr is typical rate).

Huh. All the ones I've dealt with have been a "crawl under, bolt off, bolt on" affair.
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Christof

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2018, 04:31:27 PM »
I'm writing software for car repair shops and just looked up the prices.... A starter has a wholesale price of 290 Euros including VAT here (a price that will be different in other places) and requires 50 minutes to be changed. Details vary with the model. I used a Honda Civic VIII Hatchback from 09/05 which was the closest that matched the description.

In a German car repair shop I would expect to pay around 400 Euros or $500 which is a 20% markup on parts plus labor at 50Ä an hour.

That doesn't mean, though, it needed yet to be replaced. Car repair shops tend to suggets a repair if it's more likely to break than survive until the next scheduled maintenance.

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2018, 04:34:18 PM »
$400 for a starter is kind of absurd, unless you have to dismantle the front half of the car to replace it.

That one piece at least sounds reasonable to me on a modern car.  Starter motors for run $250-300 for foreign cars and take 1-2 hours of labor (and $85-90/hr is typical rate).

Huh. All the ones I've dealt with have been a "crawl under, bolt off, bolt on" affair.

IIR from replacing my parents' starter on their '06 civic, Honda put the starter way up against the firewall.  It's bolt-on/bolt-off as you said (basic socket wrench) but its friggen hard to reach.  You have to remove the gravel-guard first.  Not hard, just a lot of feeling around since there's no way of reaching up while also seeing what you are doing. Compacts are always tighter to work on than, say, an older pickup.
entire repair toook maybe 2 hours for me, but it was my first time.

The one I used (Denso) runs $110 online - there are cheaper options too but that one had good feedback on the Civic forum and its served my parents well for the last 3 years.  OEM Honda starters are on ebay for $200.

$400?  You're getting overcharged on both the part and the labor.
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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2018, 04:36:58 PM »
Wow.

A rebuilt starter for my truck, which has a truly massive starter, is about $100.  $350 buys me an exotic geared starter that's a huge upgrade over the OEM unit.

I'm really surprised.  A 2006 Civic starter is around $200 for a reman unit.  I had no idea they were more expensive than a diesel truck starter.  Everything on my truck is expensive.
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nereo

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2018, 04:45:11 PM »
is it common for car parts to be so much more expensive in Europe than the US?
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Christof

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Re: When Should I Replace My Car?
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2018, 05:21:49 PM »
Yes, car parts are more expensive here. For one VAT is higher here than VAT or sales tax in most other places. Secondly, labor is more expensive due to various social aspects, so parts prices increase proportionally.