Author Topic: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?  (Read 4454 times)

CestMoi

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Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« on: July 17, 2014, 12:55:55 PM »
I've been considering retiring in a year or so. My net worth is ~750k. I own a 1996 Honda Civic DX that has about 130k miles on it. The car's engine light went on two months ago; my mechanic tells me I need a new distributor (would cost ~$500). I've tried a number of other things to fix it with other mechanics, and so far nothing's worked: new sparkplugs, new distributor wires.

My car also has other issues. It burns oil, about a quart per month, sometimes more. For some reason, the clear paint coating on the back trunk hood has entirely peeled off, revealing the matte coat of paint. And recently, the speedometer works only intermittently (could this be related to the check engine light?). The car also needs new hubcaps and sun visors.

Given all it needs, would it make financial sense for me to replace it with a newer (used) Honda before things get any worse with the oil burning, engine light, etc? I took a look on Craigslist, and there are 2001 Civics available with the same mileage for around $2700, and 2003 Civics with 81k miles around $6200 (which I think is high). Should I assume things are going to get worse? Or is it worth it to make the repairs and keep my car, which runs well in spite of these issues?

« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 02:31:38 PM by CestMoi »

enigmaT120

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2014, 01:28:36 PM »
That's low mileage for a Honda to be having that many problems.  Of course, my newest was an '89 so maybe they went downhill.  I think I would be looking for another car.  I don't know why the check engine light is on.  I could probably change the distributor myself if that's really the problem.  But the burning oil is a bigger problem and is more difficult to fix.  The easiest fix still involves pulling the cylinder head and replacing valve seals. 

Congratulations on your incipient retirement though.


CestMoi

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2014, 01:48:39 PM »
Yep, I wish I could do the repairs myself, or knew someone who could (for payment) rather than go through a mechanic's shop.

What's it usually run to pull the cylinder head and replace the seals? Is it crazy?

guitar_stitch

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2014, 02:02:17 PM »
Check Engine Light is probably due to the EGR valve plugging up from the burnt oil.  Not a common problem on Honda motors, but Chryslers.....  *shudder*

The distributor is exceptionally easy to change if you have the same motor I'm thinking of.  You should really consider DIY.

The valve seals are not for the DIYer.

clarkfan1979

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 02:05:11 PM »
I know nothing about cars but I didn't have a problem with the burning oil issue. Once my 2000 Hyundai Accent got to 150,000 miles it started to burn about one quart every 800-1,000 miles. I would get an oil change every 4,000 miles so that required me to put 2-3 additional quarts in between oil changes. I drove it to 194,000 miles and it's now done. I stop fixing things after 150,000 because I didn't want to make any repairs that would be more than the cost of the car. The cost of the oil was an extra $22.50/year give or take $5. I drove about 12,000 miles a year.

My check engine light went on at 120,000 miles and would randomly turn on and off. One mechanic told me after an oil change at about 160,000 miles, "You know you need to get that checked out before you do any damage to your car." I said, "Thanks, but the light has been on for about 40,000 miles so I think I'm ok." He was embarrassed because he laid it on me real thick acting like I'm an idiot and he quickly stopped talking.

If you are close to FI I would try to pick a location that is central and decreasing the need for a car. I would keep driving a junker and know that if it ever breaks down I could still get everywhere I need while I was trying to get it fixed or get a new one. I think many people are risk averse and want to pay extra for the "reliable car" What happens if you don't really need a reliable car or a car in general? Then you can get a really good deal on a car that might act up on occasion. 

CestMoi

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2014, 02:35:31 PM »
Check Engine Light is probably due to the EGR valve plugging up from the burnt oil.  Not a common problem on Honda motors, but Chryslers.....  *shudder*

The distributor is exceptionally easy to change if you have the same motor I'm thinking of.  You should really consider DIY.

The valve seals are not for the DIYer.

-Really? Someone with no experience fixing cars can reliably change the distributor? OK. I can look into that then.

I'm not suggesting I try to change the valve seals. I was just wondering what it costs to have a mechanic do that.

CestMoi

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2014, 02:38:59 PM »
"Thanks, but the light has been on for about 40,000 miles so I think I'm ok."

Your post underscores one of the reasons I wish I personally knew someone who was good with cars.

What is this engine light going on thing then? Why's it go on if it doesn't really mean anything?

RapmasterD

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2014, 08:55:45 PM »
Dump the car and buy a used Prius. Get one with 125k mikes for about 8k. Get the brakes done and ride it for another 200,000 miles, like urban taxi drivers do. Cloth interior, not the pleather. UberX dude who picked me up the other day for an airport ride (half the price of a taxi) had this exact car. Lovely. Boom.

kendallf

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 09:12:28 PM »
You probably need to decide if you want to start learning to do your own mechanical work on this car, and if you wish to do so now.  If the answer is no, I'd probably dump it, especially since it sounds like you're in a comfortable position re: FIRE and the cars you're considering are reasonable.

Your 1996 should be OBDII compliant, so you can go to an Autozone or the like and use their scanner to read the code and see why the check engine light is on.  You can Google for common causes for your specific code, or just post back here.  The oil burning problem could be (relatively) simple, like valve seals, or it could be major (rings).  The former would be a few hundred, the latter would be a rebuild or replacement of the motor.  If it's not visibly smoking heavily, I'd probably live with that and just put oil in it regularly.

MMMdude

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2014, 09:43:53 PM »
My car has been burning oil for about two years now and i put in a quart every 1500KM or so.  Still way cheaper than a new car and there is no smoke, no real visible leak on my garage floor.  Love everything else about my car so will continue driving it til it just gives up

CestMoi

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2014, 08:50:34 AM »
kendallf, I've brought the car to Autozone to read the check engine light code. Their scanner only reads back to '97 cars, so they couldn't read mine.

However, a few mechanics have read the code as well, and it seems to point to random cylinders misfiring, which is why, after what I've already had done, my current mechanic suggests changing the distributor.

Good point on the oil and learning to make these repairs myself or get a new car. And thanks for all the info from everyone.

OneDogGP

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Re: Make Sense to Replace Old Car with Newer Used Car?
« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2014, 09:01:43 AM »
C'est Moi - check out YouTube for videos for repairs on your model car.  Seeing the repair done via a video helps me decide if it's something I want to tackle on my own or have a shop take care of.