Author Topic: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?  (Read 4891 times)

DTown

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Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« on: October 28, 2013, 11:14:49 AM »
I have a '99 Corolla that is in poor shape. To be honest, I don't even like the car very much. It's an automatic sedan, and I would really like a manual hatchback. I just took it in for some maintenance and found out a few more things that it really needs to have done despite only having 135k miles:

  • Needs new struts - parts and labor run $1300
  • It goes through a quart of oil in every 1500mi due to burning oil, a valve gasket leak, and an oil pan leak. New valve cover gasket - ~$200 for parts and labor? Oil pan is not worth fixing.
  • Needs new tires this coming summer - $400 est.
  • The serpentine belt tensioner is functional, but makes a racket. Mostly a cosmetic issue. $???
  • The front sway bar links are also functional, but make a racket. Also mostly a cosmetic issue. $200.

The car also has lots of cosmetic damage - the clear coat is all flaking off, and it has a few big dents I didn't bother to repair. It really looks like hell. Only positives are there no rust (yet...), and I don't care if someone runs into it in the parking lot.

So here are my options:
  • 1) Keep and fix the car. I would need to put in about $2000 for new struts, new tires in a few months, and pray I can just keep pouring oil into it and not have any big issues. I would consider the new sway bar links and tensioner with this option.
  • 2) Sell the car now. I could probably sell the car for about $2000 in its current state while being honest about it's condition. I wanted to pay off all my student loans this coming spring before buying a new car, which would delay me 2 or 3 months. It would be replaced by a used Mazda 3, Toyota Matrix, or Scion xA in the $5000-$8000 range. It will of course be a manual hatchback, and I'll pay cash.

Fixing the car then selling it is a losing proposition. I would cost MUCH more to fix than I would get back in resale value. Attempting option 1 just to end up selling it in the next year would not be good.

Mustachians, what would you do in this situation?


imbros

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2013, 11:22:46 AM »
Unless the struts are totally collapsed you shouldn't really need to change them.
New serpentine belt and sway bar links are not going to make a big improvement, so why not ignore them.
OTOH, things like headgasket and tires are not really optional items. I would do those and keep the car until a more costly repair is needed.

DTown

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 12:36:17 PM »
Unfortunately, the struts aren't optional. They're causing my tires to wear much more quickly than they should. The current set has around 20k miles on them, and will only last another 10k at most with the current struts. These are good tires rated for 70k miles that I bought new.

Although I don't personally mind the noise, selling the car when it makes some nasty noises from the serpentine tensioner and the sway bar links will be a little harder. I agree they really are optional though.

madage

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2013, 12:49:05 PM »
You can save some money replacing the struts yourself. You can use a product like Monroe Quick-Strut to replace the whole assembly and not have mess around with the spring. After a discount and the $120 rebate for purchasing four, struts for my 2001 Corolla cost about $360.

TrulyStashin

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2013, 06:58:52 PM »
I replaced all the struts in my car ('01 Maxima) for about $500.  I bought the parts online and paid a handy friend $120 to install them.  If you're not up for doing it yourself using these:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhT9YltDvAI

I bet you can ask around and find a backyard mechanic who would do it for a C-note.   You'll feel like a badass when you buy your parts here http://www.1aauto.com/1A/shocks_struts/Toyota/Corolla/1ASFK00097/389900-2000?utm_campaign=gb_csv_br&utm_content=SFK&gclid=CIyhi-zquroCFcuZ4AodCwcAzw for $300 and spend another $100 getting them installed.  You can give a big middle finger to the repair shop when you drive by.

You can follow this plan for everything on your list.  Nothing you have here is a complicated or tricky repair.  I bet you can do all the work here for half the price the shop quoted.  As a result, you'll not only be ahead, money-wise, but your sense of yourself as a badass will be significantly greater.  That's one of the intangible benefits of Mustachianism.  I feel stronger, more savvy, more competent to manage my life. 

You will too.

Forcus

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2013, 10:07:32 AM »
No problem with selling an auto sedan to get a manual hatchback. Manuals make low powered economy cars much more fun to drive and hatches are infinitely more usable for hauling stuff.

The strut job should not cost $1300 in any form. I second what others said. As far as tire wear, I am assuming you mean tread wear on the inside edges, not high and low spots on the tread. Tires wearing quickly on one side would not be caused by struts but possibly by weak springs. Either way the Quick Strut is a cheap and easy way to go.

But personally I would just sell it and be done with it.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2013, 09:58:17 AM »
The stuff you describe sounds more like excuses to buy something else (ie: not mustachian!).  *face-punch for you* :)

These are all easy fixes and should run a few hundred bucks. They are all within the realm of even what a novice should be able to handle. Or you can probably find a guy who does this on the side to handle it for you cheaper.  A 1999 Corolla is a very cheap and easy car to maintain. It gets great mpg and is virtually unkillable. Fix it. Put the cash you want to spend into your stash!!


Couple of notes:
Just went to advance auto website (I check all the local stores first) 
$65 per strut (check the others to get best price)
Valve cover gasket set is $19.99 and you can do it your self in 10 minutes
Oil pan gasket set is $9.99 ""   ""
Sway bar link kit $17.99
I just purchased tires for my little civic (exact size as your corolla) at Wal-Mart - Goodyear brand $55 per tire.


***These prices I quoted are listed on the advance auto website (I don't recommend one over another - it's just for example purposes)  Also, note that purchases over $75 have free shipping and 15% of ordered online. 

How much money did we just save you?

« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 10:15:32 AM by thurston howell iv »

Forcus

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2013, 10:24:42 AM »
The stuff you describe sounds more like excuses to buy something else (ie: not mustachian!).  *face-punch for you* :)

I agree in part, but for example, back in '05 we thought about buying a new Focus for the wife. The only one they had on the lot was an automatic. The automatic sucked every ounce of fun out of the car. We didn't buy a new car but I did drive a stick '05 a bit later and it was a completely different animal. I've had sedans before but essentially if a sedan was my only car I'd have to have a trailer. With a hatch, I can haul 95% of what I need to without having a trailer, and I can find another solution for the other 5%.

So I'd say if it was just the issues with this particular car, they would be excuses, but the OP sounds like he/she wants the fun to drive of a manual and the utility of a hatch.

DTown

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2013, 04:35:15 PM »
I'm still right on the line of deciding what I should do.

Forcus, you know exactly what I mean. The added cargo capacity of a hatchback would be very useful for me. A hatchback would be very useful for scoring last-minute craigslist deals on furniture and appliances (renting a truck for this means you would miss out on a deal, or make it a much bigger hassle and more expensive). It would also be much better for moving (which happens at least once per year). I also go camping/snowboarding/backpacking/rock climbing pretty often, and the added space would be helpful for that as well.

The manual transmission is just as much for fun as it is practical. It gives you a much better ability to hypermile the vehicle, and often has better fuel economy to begin with because of its lower weight, lack of a torque converter, and typically has a taller final gear ratio.

That said, I want to keep my costs to a minimum. I would obviously lose money in getting another car. The cost of another car over fixing what I have DIY is probably around $4k. Is this cost worth it for the advantages above, plus having more life left in it? Not sure.

Assuming I DIY fix it:
I don't have a garage, so I really don't want to deal with fixing it in the winter. I roughly estimate that I'll drive 4000mi before April, so it can probably wait till then. Rear struts on a Corolla a bit of a pain because it requires disconnecting the brake line and later bleeding the brakes. I'd still need to get the alignment done after replacing the struts and sway bar links. As far as tools go, the only thing I really have is a socket set. I'll need a decent floor jack, jack stands, some sort of rotary tool (ok, it might be possible to get away with just a hacksaw), maybe an impact wrench, and likely several more tools for the brakes. I'm hesitant to acquire all of that since I move so often. It would be useless / I would need to sell it if I moved back into an apartment. Maybe I could find a super-nice mechanically inclined friend and borrow their tools...

Forcus

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Re: Fix the car, or sell it and get something else?
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2013, 09:28:32 AM »
Maybe I could find a super-nice mechanically inclined friend and borrow their tools...

That's something that I haven't seen posted a lot of but is definitely a MMM-type line of thinking - trading favors with people who have specialties. I would rate my car repair skills as advanced, my home repair skills as intermediate, my computer repair skills as poor / non-existant. So if I need some computer work done I try to hit up someone I know and trade car repair. I knocked about 30% off my roofing costs last year by getting assistance in that area. In trade I repaired his baler and replaced the steering system in his farm tractor this year. And so on. If you have zero tools, no knowledge, no place to work, it's kind of hard to get started on SOME aspects of car repair. For instance, I use air tools, specialized tools that I've gotten over time, and knowledge I've gained from experience to fix stuff. Not something that everyone can just jump in to.

All that being said, the repairs (except suspension) you've outlined can probably be done with basic handtools (I don't know much about Toyotas so making assumptions here, like not having to drop the subframe to get at the oil pan). The suspension I would engage a friend / trade favors. Especially if rust is an issue in your area (it is here... usually heat, presses, etc. are required for anything over 7-10 years old).

Of course that's if you want to keep it. I've sold around 60 cars in my life and have pretty much found it is not worthwhile to try to fix up a cheap car for sale (barring easy to fix stuff that adds considerable value). People go for low price over perfection every time (in the price range I typically sell a car). If I was going to do anything I'd replace the belt and tensioner, and sway bar links, and maybe the oil pan / valve cover gaskets if they are leaking substantial amounts of oil. These should be cheap / easy to fix and take care of some of the noises and leaks that are really noticable.

Then go get a cheap hatch. Focus, Mazda 3, Fit, etc.