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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: mh1361 on February 07, 2014, 01:48:34 PM

Title: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: mh1361 on February 07, 2014, 01:48:34 PM
Hello! I hope you guys will be able to help me think some things out.

I currently drive a 1990 Toyota Camry station wagon, with a touch less than 95,000 miles on it. My main question is, at this point, how much is too much to pay for a car repair? As far as I know, there aren't any major mechanical issues with it. It was valued by a dealership at $800-1000. So at what point is a repair too costly to be worth paying for? When I'm thru with this car, I'll need another one, which will probably be an early 2000 Honda CRV. That's what my fiance's heart is set on, and it isn't a bad car from what I've seen. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Greg on February 07, 2014, 01:57:04 PM
You've got a lot of mileage yet to put on your car... my daily driver has 305K on it. CRV's are a little tippy.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Milspecstache on February 07, 2014, 09:23:17 PM
Here's my viewpoint:

If I know the car well and can reasonably predict that the engine and tranny are good, I will dump money into the rest of it.  I wouldn't do this for a Dodge but I would for a Toyota.  For instance, I keep my cars a long time and I keep up with fluid changes and I really listen to the condition of the car.  That makes it more valuable to me than the KBB cost.

When something expensive breaks, like the AC compressor, I waited a while to fix it because I wanted to make sure that it wasn't the start of the snow-ball of end-of-life for the car.  Here I actually made a mistake because at first it was just the clutch but soon the compressor made a mess of the all the refrigerant lines so the repair became more expensive.  But usually this would make sense.  What I am trying to do is to spread repairs out to make sure the benefit side is more heavily weighted than the cost side.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: greaper007 on February 07, 2014, 09:32:07 PM
I think something like an older toyota is a great place to learn how to fix cars.   The first car I worked on was my 1990 Nissan Maxima (god I still miss that car).   I kept it until the rust was eating its body like an unstoppable rebel force about 8 years ago.   

Like the previous poster said, anything short of major engine or tranny work (total replacement), don't worry about cost, go ahead and try to do the work yourself.   I can't think of a non-major fix that costs more than a few hundred dollars in parts if you do it yourself.    And, you won't believe the sense of accomplishment you feel when your car actually runs after you do your first timing belt.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Stache In Training on February 07, 2014, 11:17:16 PM
You've still got plenty of mileage left in that car.  My parents have one that has well over 200K miles, and still no major problems.  The fact that you have that low of miles on that, means that you are not a big driver, which means that you'll be able to re-coup any repair costs you need, instead of buying a new (to you) car, because it'll last for a very long time.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: theSchmett on February 08, 2014, 02:07:45 AM
at the very least don't let the dealer or kbb assign the value. the value is what you think it is, but in my opinion more closely related to replacement cost.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: soccerluvof4 on February 08, 2014, 04:27:49 AM
I think everyone pretty much agrees that the car has alot of life on it and as long as the drive train is strong dont be afraid to put some money into it. I do like the idea as well of somethings dont need to rush to be fixed so see how it goes for awhile and or learn to fix on your own. However, the flipside is the car is 23/24 years old and depending on your finances and needs I wouldnt be afraid to slowly transistion into something 10 years newer as long as you know the strength of that cars drivetrain and you can get a hell of a deal. So i guess i would keep exploring both options to stay in touch with the market until/ if you decide to get a little newer. But i agree with a toyota like that 200k is doable if not alot more.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: mh1361 on February 08, 2014, 08:18:07 AM
Thanks for all the advice! I haven't done any car repairs myself but it would certainly be a good time to learn. The reason the car doesn't have more miles is that it was sitting in my Grandmom's garage until about 2006. But at this point, I won't be putting more than 7,000 miles on it a year (and realistically less than that). Again, thanks for the advice. I'm hoping to hang onto it as long as possible and now I won't worry as much about what to do if a repair comes up that I need to address.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: b4u2 on February 08, 2014, 09:06:04 AM
My wife drives a 1995 Toyota Camry. 154k miles on it right now. Runs like a top. Only thing to watch for is electrical issues. The wires in the doors start to break, mainly where they run through the rubber. Other than that no major issues. She drives it daily for her job and we drive it to St. Louis a few times a year as well. We paid $1500 for it 2 years ago. I do my own fluid changes on it.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Mini-Mer on February 08, 2014, 06:11:07 PM
First, congratulations on your car's age and mileage!

I just had to make that call.  13-year-old car, worth just over 2K, mileage just under 110K.  The AC and heat had never broken; the engine hadn't quite reached the point of needing to be rebuilt...  It had numerous issues, but it was so very paid-for!  I was pretty much waiting to hear the word "transmission".

Part of my reasoning was that I had enough saved for a new car.  If I only had $3K in the bank, maybe I would gamble that a 2-3K transmission repair would keep me going for a while.
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Faith2014 on February 08, 2014, 06:24:54 PM
I'm a Toyota woman, and my car is a 2001 with 115K miles on it.  You are coming up to a big repair at around 100K - the timing belt (or chain - it varies).  Depending on how the engine is set up, it can be a pricy thing to fix.

While I put in a fair amount of money into my car (tire replacement, brakes, etc) and some people said I put too much into a car that wasn't worth it, I considered instead the replacement cost.  My original plan was to drive it 15-20 years, possibly replacing the engine at some point if need be.  As it is, I'm going on 13 years, and consider my car still "low mileage" for a Toyota.  So I'd rather pump in 2-3K over the next 5-7 years than buy a new car. 

And yes, I wrote new and meant new.  I grew up on the poor side, and my first couple of cars were the rip-off ones sold to poor youth.  The family wasn't much better in terms of having success with cars.  I cannot tell you how much time and agony (and money that I didn't have) were spent in my youth with beater cars.  Never again.  I bought this one new (at a fair price) with 2.99% financing, and paid it off a little earlier to get rid of the car payment.  I didn't worry about 'losing' all the money from driving it off the lot that I would never 'get back' since I didn't really plan to sell or trade it in.  That money I "lost " was what I paid for peace of mind. 

But what a stroke of luck to get this car!
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: greaper007 on February 08, 2014, 10:18:01 PM
I agree with you Faith.   It's nice getting a car new and knowing that it was always taken care of.  Both my cars were in my family before I drove them.   I knew the oil and fluid change history and how the drivers treated their cars.   So far I haven't had to replace any major engine or transmission parts on either one of them.   I only got rid of my 90 Maxima because after 10 Cleveland winters the rust was pretty much making the car unsafe.   If it was a Colorado car I'd still be driving it.

Also, a timing belt is generally a 120,000 mile item in my experience, a timing chain comes in at around 180 to the life of the vehicle.    I think I paid 500 for the belt on my Maxima, and I did it myself last year for the VW.   I bought a kit with all OEM parts that included engine mount bolts and the water pump.   I think it was $150.   YMMV
Title: Re: My 1990 Toyota Camry
Post by: Greg on February 08, 2014, 10:30:34 PM
Also, a timing belt is generally a 120,000 mile item in my experience, a timing chain comes in at around 180 to the life of the vehicle.

In the 80's timing belts were 60K service items, and even then it was iffy.  Belt quality has come a long way, but if you have an interference engine the prudent thing is to change the belt sooner than later.   Seals, tensioner and idler bearings, and any other timing-belt driven accessories (sometimes oil pump, water pump) have to be renewed as well.