Author Topic: Buy another car or fix this one?  (Read 3974 times)

Kimmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Buy another car or fix this one?
« on: April 21, 2014, 12:25:27 PM »
Timing chain broke on my 2001 Chevy Tracker. This is a car that is our backup. Husband uses it to drive a few miles to the train station and occasionally uses it on the days he needs to drive into work for some reason. The car is worth $2600. (Husband says he thinks it's more like $1800.)

The timing chain broke, which means a complete take apart the engine repair. ($1,000 if the chain didn't break anything else in the engine. Not likely.)
Also, we were just about to put new tires and new struts on the car. $600.

Would you spend $1600 to fix an $1800 car? How about a $2600 one?

Thegoblinchief

  • Guest
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2014, 12:33:51 PM »
Considering the overall track record of that model, no. I'd probably put it to pasture.

luigi49

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2014, 12:37:29 PM »
Really depends on your financial situation.

svi

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 17
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 12:44:53 PM »
The tracker has an interference engine. This means that when the chain broke it is likely that your pistons smashed into the valves bending or breaking the valves and possibly the pistons themselves. This may be a great opportunity to get a cheap toolset and a hanes manual and pull the engine apart to see if it is salvagable, especially if it is not a primary car for you. Regardless i would definitely get a new car if you are not mechanically inclined,  fixing it will likely be more expensive than the car is worth, if you outsource this to a shop.

Kimmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 12:54:42 PM »
We have some debt (HELOC, paying off a house reno). No cc debt, no other car loans. Expensive mortgage= 40% of takehome after retirement, insurance and taxes. But we'd likely buy a car in the $5,000-$8,000 range. My husband, I think, wants to get a new one. I am really balking and trying to get him to see the wisdom of used.

luigi49

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 291
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 01:44:10 PM »
YOur finance is good but if SVI is right about the motor I will get another used car or new car if your husband wants one. 

eil

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 246
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 03:53:14 PM »
! This is all my personal opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. !

When something inside a car engine breaks that requires it to be torn apart, there are only two economical options:

1) Buy a new car
2) Buy a new engine to put into the car

Having an engine rebuilt is almost never worth the money spent, unless replacement engines are prohibitively expensive due to scarcity. The only way to come out ahead rebuilding an engine is if you have the tools, skills, and free time to do it yourself. And even then, the odds are not in your favor once you get around to adding up the costs of new pistons, valves, miscellaneous seals, gaskets, and so on.

Between the two options listed above, #2 is only viable if your mechanic is extremely trustworthy: a family member or a very good friend. Engine replacement is not for the amateur, there are too many corners to cut and things to forget that can cause serious problems later on.

For a ~$2000 car, I don't think I would bother with an engine replacement.

Now I'm going to suggest that perhaps you don't need a backup vehicle and the considerable expenses that such a luxury incurs... insurance, registration, repairs, gasoline, maintenance, and so on...

1) Does your husband really need to drive to the train station a few miles away? Is he not physically able to bicycle there?

2) Driving in to work... how far away? Within bicycling distance? Is carpooling not an option? Is the primary car in use every single day? If you have two separate jobs, can you move closer to one of them? Or better yet one of you change jobs closer to home or at least near one another so you can carpool?

Not trying to be a douche, just planting ideas in your head. This is MMM's forum and I'm reasonably certain that if he happened to be within earshot of a phrase like "backup vehicle," there would be some faces a-gettin' punched.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 03:58:14 PM by eil »

CarDude

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 611
  • Location: Chicago, IL
  • Beep Beep!
    • The CCD
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 04:27:05 PM »
Everyone else has already covered it. The point in buying cheap cars is that it affords you the ability to replace them immediately when the need arises. Why spend $1600 on a vehicle worth $1800 when you could simply spend $1600-1800 on a different vehicle with an already working drivetrain?

As a sidenote, although I'm loath to recommend them from a safety perspective, if you absolutely needed something reliable and cheap for under $2k, there are plenty of Tercels, Civics, and Corollas from the '90s that would fit the bill, and will be good for at least 200k, if not much farther. To be honest, all three vehicles I mentioned would actually still be safer than the Tracker, based on driver death rates.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 04:31:53 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

Kimmer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 04:35:47 PM »
Thanks all!
I looked into seeing how long it would take me to bike to work, but it's 22 miles. Also, public transportation would take 2 hours plus each direction.
I do keep an eye out for jobs in my field of expertise closer to home and we'll be looking into any possible working from home a couple days a week in the future.

The hubs won't be needing the car in a year or so when the train system gets to within a mile or two within the house, but at the moment, if I am the only one with the car, that means I have no option to take on extra work or overtime because there's no way for the husband to pick up the kids.

I did look into someone else's idea of an electric motorcycle, but once again, not feasible if anyone needs to do pickup from daycare or any kind of transporting the kids.

(We have two kids under age 7. Both have bikes, and have gone short jaunts, but a 4 year old plus traffic is enough to pull the hair out at times. Not something I'd want to do all the time.)

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2008
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 06:20:21 PM »
Considering the overall track record of that model, no. I'd probably put it to pasture.

I'd have to agree.  I hate seeing vehicles go to scrap when it's still possible to fix them, but certain vehicles are not worth much effort due to their design/nature.  This would qualify as a vehicle I wouldn't waste any time or money with.

AccidentalMiser

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 659
  • Age: 51
  • Location: SE Tenn
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 06:34:13 PM »
Considering the overall track record of that model, no. I'd probably put it to pasture.

I'd have to agree.  I hate seeing vehicles go to scrap when it's still possible to fix them, but certain vehicles are not worth much effort due to their design/nature.  This would qualify as a vehicle I wouldn't waste any time or money with.
All this.  Go find a decent used car in the 4-6k range.  Please don't buy new.

thurston howell iv

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 415
Re: Buy another car or fix this one?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2014, 07:12:47 AM »
Before buying another car why not try pulling the head?  It's a simple 4 cylinder (IIRC) and that means it's a little tiny head. Pop it off and see what the damage is. Most likely it's just some bent valves. No biggie. Any competent machine shop can get that handled for you cheaply and then you just pop it back on, put a new chain and you're back in business...

If the pistons are damaged (and I think this is less likely- but totally possible), then it's probably cheaper to source a used or rebuilt engine... It will not cost $1600.
You can probably source a decent engine from your local pull-a-part salvage yard for $300 or less (Even cheaper if you go on one of their 50% off days!)