Poll

What should I do with my car? (Details below)

Repair ($1500)
20 (51.3%)
Patch ($300)
12 (30.8%)
Replace -- brand new car ($15k+)
0 (0%)
Replace -- newer car w/ESC (~$10k)
2 (5.1%)
Replace -- older car (~$3-$7k)
5 (12.8%)

Total Members Voted: 39

Author Topic: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]  (Read 4193 times)

Felicity

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Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« on: May 03, 2017, 10:57:59 AM »
Constraints and Background
We're likely looking to do a year-long trip around the world in the next 3-4 years. We would either sell the car, or we could offer it to little brother or another family member for the year. Only problem is closest family is halfway across the country, and if we got a Honda Fit, it sounds like it's not the best road trip vehicle.

Current car:
2000 Toyota Camry
155k miles
Currently driving ~5k miles a year
Rough private party sale value (estimating based on Craigslist): $700-800
Dealer trade in price quote: $500
Cost to repair exhaust fully: $1500
Cost to patch exhaust (mechanic said would be good for ~9 months): $300

It's an heirloom (grandmother, dad, and older brother all dive it once. Brother even hit a deer in it). It has seen better days. It has some paint damage, some rust, but is mostly holding together. Except that on a recent visit to our mechanic (they do good work and always quote first, and end price is always the same or lower than quote -- consistently cheaper than other mechanics nearby), turns out our exhaust is pretty much shot. I'm not 100% on what exactly is wrong with it, as I was out on business when husband took the car in, but it sounds like the entire exhaust system would need to be replaced. The mechanic recommended we buy a new car as opposed to repairing the exhaust.

If we just patched the system, it would give us more time to look for a replacement vehicle. It probably wouldn't last us until the year-long trip. I guess technically we could just keep patching?

New car:
Not really seriously considering this one, but put it in the poll just for fun. Honda Fit 2017 MSRP is roughly $16k base priced MSRP.

Newer car options:
Honda Fit is top of our list, and we were thinking a 2011 model or newer, as that was the year Electronic Stability Control (ESC) was first standard for that model (random side note: Honda calls it something like Vehicle Stability Assist). The IIHS has done some studies and seems to suggest that ESC is one of the biggest safety advances lately.
Tons of 2013 Honda Fits on the market now for lowish mileage and ~$10k

Estimated depreciation:
$1k first year ownership
$800 next year
Then it starts leveling off more

Insurance cost:
Double if not triple our current insurance
$500 more per year easy (mostly same levels, but also adding collision and comprehensive)

Gas savings:
$100 - $150 per year, more of gas prices go up

Older Car Options:
Tons, really. Some higher mileage Fits for ~$6k, older Camry and Corolla models. Probably looking at spending roughly $5k, with a bit of an increase in insurance costs, but not a ton of depreciation each year.

Thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 11:13:39 AM by Felicity »

Enough

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2017, 11:16:07 AM »
If you can DIY, I would recommend getting a new exhaust online or going to a pull-a-part / junkyard for a used part and self installing.

If you can't DIY, you are probably headed in the right direction with a  newer used car.  You'll get enough use out of it in 4 years to justify the expense.

I had a similar issue with a 1998 Nissan maxima with ~180k mi.  Fun, reliable car, but the muffler cracked.  I patched it twice in one year to keep it going.  When the exhaust started getting loud again, I went to a pull-a-part and got a newer exhaust section (~$60?) off of a maxima with fewer miles.  After replacing that section, I didn't have any further issues and sold it two years later for $1500. 

catccc

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2017, 11:23:50 AM »
At 155K miles, your car sounds like it still has a lot left in it.  I personally would need more that "they exhaust is completely shot" to proceed with work.  The exhaust is a lot of parts, no?!  How is everything else on the car holding up?  (If you get the exhaust fixed, does everything else look like it'll go for a while longer?)

Who will be in the car on 1/2 way across the country road trips?  If your family is 5 people, I agree a Honda Fit would be tight for a road trip.  But if it is 4, I think a Fit is fine for a road trip.  (My family of 4 is fine road tripping in a toyota matrix.)

Also, 1/2 way across?  I might just fly.   You can travel hack to get this for cheap/free, or just shop sales from low cost carries like spirit and frontier.  Or, if you really like driving, just rent a car for the trip.

I'm leaning towards getting the Camry fixed.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2017, 11:28:27 AM »
1) I need more details on the exhaust issue to decide if it's worth fixing.  I'd lean towards fixing, but I would likely DIY it, so your costs may be different.

2) If I understand your post correctly:  you're not driving this car on your around-the-world trip, but just loaning it to your relative for the year while you're gone, and then you'll take it back.  Why do you need to deliver it to the relative?  (have them come get it)

v8rx7guy

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2017, 11:55:19 AM »
An exhaust repair "only lasting 9 months" is mechanic BS... get the patchwork done and it will last for years.

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2017, 12:45:26 PM »
1) I need more details on the exhaust issue to decide if it's worth fixing.  I'd lean towards fixing, but I would likely DIY it, so your costs may be different.

2) If I understand your post correctly:  you're not driving this car on your around-the-world trip, but just loaning it to your relative for the year while you're gone, and then you'll take it back.  Why do you need to deliver it to the relative?  (have them come get it)

Yeah, for (1) we may end up taking a dog walk by the mechanic tonight to get more details

On (2) Yes, car would not be part of our round the world trip, unless we including some USA roadtripping. We also might move after this big trip (going from MA to WA maybe), so it could get us halfway there. Good point of having family get the car! That's a possibility.

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2017, 12:47:00 PM »
If you can DIY, I would recommend getting a new exhaust online or going to a pull-a-part / junkyard for a used part and self installing.

If you can't DIY, you are probably headed in the right direction with a  newer used car.  You'll get enough use out of it in 4 years to justify the expense.

I had a similar issue with a 1998 Nissan maxima with ~180k mi.  Fun, reliable car, but the muffler cracked.  I patched it twice in one year to keep it going.  When the exhaust started getting loud again, I went to a pull-a-part and got a newer exhaust section (~$60?) off of a maxima with fewer miles.  After replacing that section, I didn't have any further issues and sold it two years later for $1500.

I haven't DIY'd much car stuff before, but I may be able to get some more knowledgeable friends to walk me through specifics. 😃

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2017, 12:52:42 PM »
At 155K miles, your car sounds like it still has a lot left in it.  I personally would need more that "they exhaust is completely shot" to proceed with work.  The exhaust is a lot of parts, no?!  How is everything else on the car holding up?  (If you get the exhaust fixed, does everything else look like it'll go for a while longer?)

Who will be in the car on 1/2 way across the country road trips?  If your family is 5 people, I agree a Honda Fit would be tight for a road trip.  But if it is 4, I think a Fit is fine for a road trip.  (My family of 4 is fine road tripping in a toyota matrix.)

Also, 1/2 way across?  I might just fly.   You can travel hack to get this for cheap/free, or just shop sales from low cost carries like spirit and frontier.  Or, if you really like driving, just rent a car for the trip.

I'm leaning towards getting the Camry fixed.
Everything else is mostly fine. The transmission might be the next big ticket item, but that would most likely be after 200k miles, so quite a ways to go!

2 people + dog currently -- it just seemed like every review of the Honda Fit said it wasn't good for road trips, saying it's noisy and not comfortable for long journeys. Capacity-wise and for reliability I think it would be fine.

I'll work on getting more info about what's needed on the car before deciding.

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2017, 12:55:01 PM »
An exhaust repair "only lasting 9 months" is mechanic BS... get the patchwork done and it will last for years.

Part of me was thinking this too...especially with how we drive. The mechanic mentioned it had been patched before, which must have been around 2012.

catccc

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2017, 01:00:36 PM »
For a future car (or for this car, if you get it repaired)... I might consider getting it washed more frequently in the wintertime?  I'm wondering if corrosive salt build up from new england winters is to blame for some of the damage?  When I visit my sister on the west coast I see far more older cars on the road.  Someone said it was because these cars never see salt.

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2017, 01:05:33 PM »
For a future car (or for this car, if you get it repaired)... I might consider getting it washed more frequently in the wintertime?  I'm wondering if corrosive salt build up from new england winters is to blame for some of the damage?  When I visit my sister on the west coast I see far more older cars on the road.  Someone said it was because these cars never see salt.

Good point -- the salt for sure is not gentle on cars!

rothwem

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2017, 01:26:36 PM »
Fixing an older car is almost always cheaper than buying a new car.  A 2000 Camry is also one of the most reliable vehicles ever made, even if it drives and looks pretty mediocre throughout its entire lifespan. 

Also, a running, driving car that passes a state inspection is almost always worth >$1500. 

Sure, the dealership will lowball you, but that's because they don't want a beater on their lot, so they're going to offer you $700, then auction it off to a buy here pay here lot for $1500, who will then turn around and put it on their lot for $3500 or $200/month with a $1500 down payment. 

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2017, 02:04:44 PM »
So for what it's worth, I just checked the transmission fluid -- nice and pinkish like it's supposed to be, and no particles or burnt smell. Yaay! I'm not actively wrecking my transmission! 😀

We also are good about oil changes and the like. About every other year we pass inspection without needing anything done, and the other half of the time, repairs to get up to snuff are $200-$400 typically

Fixing an older car is almost always cheaper than buying a new car.  A 2000 Camry is also one of the most reliable vehicles ever made, even if it drives and looks pretty mediocre throughout its entire lifespan. 

Very true! It's been good to us. Every so often it'll need a big repair (once every five years or so, $1k+), but average annual cost for repairs is quite reasonable.

Also, a running, driving car that passes a state inspection is almost always worth >$1500

See, I thought so too, but Craigslist and the like seem to disagree, at least around this area. I saw a 2001 Camry on there listed for something like $750 (private seller), and it had roughly the same miles as ours and had fewer cosmetic defects. Also, with the whole "brother hit a deer with it"/accident history, that knocks some value off. I'll check more into the market just for curiosity's sake though. 😃 Could be those cars I'm seeing on the market have some major issues they're not disclosing.

Reynolds531

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2017, 07:21:18 PM »
I would see if a shop around you can fab you a single wall stainless exhaust. Ùsually cheaper here.

Brings to mind my mechanic spraying rustproof in my muffler as a joke so it would smoke. No smoke but honestly the xhaust lasted 16 years.

Spiritual_Lobotomy

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2017, 08:17:44 PM »
An exhaust repair "only lasting 9 months" is mechanic BS... get the patchwork done and it will last for years.

I completely agree, to be able to estimate this at 9 months you would need a magical crystal ball.  I would replace it, however $1500 is insane.  See if they are willing to replace from the Catalytic converter back.  Most shops are quick to take advantage because they assume most people dont know anything about cars... but I would push back and explain that you are just trying to get by.  Also, a Camry with only 155k miles is in the prime of its youth!  I had an '85 Camry that had near 200k when I got rid of it and it still ran like the day I bought it.

jane x

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2017, 12:45:18 PM »
I like your post.  I'm debating something similar myself with a 1996 Honda Accord that probably needs a new transmission.  My initial thought is to get rid of it.  I'm worried that this new large expense will lead to even more expenses like timing belt, brakes etc.  We've had times in the past where we spent way too much money on a dying car and later regretted it.  But since you only need yours for a short time, it makes sense to see if you can make this one last. 

yyc-phil

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2017, 08:05:41 PM »
Sell the car, find a used Toyota Landcruiser, and travel the world in it.

kayvent

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2017, 05:35:27 AM »
I voted for 'Newer Car' and was surprised to see that only one other person selected it. I voted that way because the repair options don't seem to work mathematically. A 2001 Camry would be about the same price of the repair cost. The two options, a Corrolla or Camry, you laid out for an older car don't seem to fit your use cases either. You drive around 22 KM a day. If that is mainly city, a Camry seems to be a waste. But then a Corrolla doesn't seem suitable for your other scenario of a long trip. A Corolla drives great in a city but I've always found that it is not a very comfortable car on the highway.

So by the process of elimination, a Newer car seems like the best option imho.

nick663

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace?
« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2017, 07:36:54 AM »
If you can DIY, I would recommend getting a new exhaust online or going to a pull-a-part / junkyard for a used part and self installing.
This only works if you need the rear section of the exhaust.  Every junkyard I've been to cuts the midpipe to get the cat off (they're not allowed to resell them).
I haven't DIY'd much car stuff before, but I may be able to get some more knowledgeable friends to walk me through specifics. 😃
Exhaust is super simple.  Usually 2-3 bolts holding each section together and a few rubber hangers that slip over rods on the exhaust/chassis.  The only pain is usually the fasteners are rusty because they've been subjected to the same conditions as the rest of the exhaust.

$1500 is honestly insane for a new exhaust.  You're talking about less than $500 in parts at full retail and there is no way the book time is 10 hours for an exhaust replacement.  I would love to see their quote breakdown to see where they're gouging you on that.

Clean Shaven

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2017, 07:58:54 AM »
If this repair requires a complete exhaust system - manifold(s), downpipe(s), catalytic converter(s), oxygen sensor(s), muffler(s) and assorted pipe, then it's going to be expensive.

But for the car to be in such condition, I would expect the rest of it to have a bunch of rust too, and might need other repairs that - when all added up - could push more in the direction of replacement. Preferably from a southern or western location without rust.

dhlogic

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace?
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2017, 03:59:58 PM »
$1500 is honestly insane for a new exhaust.  You're talking about less than $500 in parts at full retail and there is no way the book time is 10 hours for an exhaust replacement.  I would love to see their quote breakdown to see where they're gouging you on that.

My car's OEM exhaust lasted 12 years and 81k miles in a salty winter environment before a small leak developed. I opted to replace the entire exhaust system from the header/exhaust manifold back. A Honda OEM catalytic converter for a civic was going to be $800+. I opted for an aftermarket catalytic converter and aluminized steel for the rest of the exhaust. Since replacement, it has lasted an additional 10 years and 90k miles. It was under $500 for parts and installation. The past 10 years the car has seen minimal winter weather however.

Just wanted to add my philosophy:

Nearly all "repairs" are worth it to me, because its not like these are unexpected repairs, it is just normal maintenance and all cars need maintenance.

I've replaced the timing belt and water pump on my car once already and its actually overdue on it happening again. I will get this maintenance done in the near future and it will cost close to what the car is "worth". But all vehicles with a timing belt need this done. I could buy a newer car, but that newer vehicle exists on the maintenance schedule continuum someplace and will need to get it replaced in the future as well. So why get rid of something I already own to buy something that will eventually need the same service performed on it?

Nearly everything on the car is a consumable if you own it long enough: brakes, suspension, clutch, exhaust, charging system, transmissions, and eventually even engines!

So I will continue to put new tires, timing belts, exhausts and anything else that comes up on this car because all cars need these things.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 04:32:13 PM by dhlogic »

JLee

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2017, 05:06:47 PM »
Sell the car, find a used Toyota Landcruiser, and travel the world in it.

I love this plan. :D

BlueMR2

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace?
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2017, 05:27:39 AM »
Nearly all "repairs" are worth it to me, because its not like these are unexpected repairs, it is just normal maintenance and all cars need maintenance.

It's always so sad to me when I see someone that doesn't have money to spare scrap a perfectly sound car that could be expected to provide several more years of good service just because it needs maintenance plus a minor repair.  I'll hear things like "ugh, I need a timing belt plus an exhaust, that's going to be $1300 and it's only worth $2500, need to buy a new car".  Then the person goes off and drops $35,000 on a new car (with a high interest loan because they don't have any cash), losing $5k as soon as it leaves the lot (plus now paying a LOT more in insurance).  Sigh.

sequoia

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2017, 11:07:50 AM »
Just want to comment that one thing to consider when replacing older vehicle with newer ones are safety measure. Stability control, side impact airbags for front and rear passengers, better crush zones in case of accidents etc.

Yes money is a consideration, I mean this is MMM forum :) but how much is the value of your (and your passanger safety)? Something to think about...

Felicity

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Re: Old Car -- repair or replace? [Poll]
« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2017, 04:46:25 PM »
So update!

We did get the car repaired, at a total cost of $1150. Mechanic gave the following base prices for replacing (with brand new parts):

|Part Name||Mechanic Cost (labor incl)||Online Part Cost (no labor)|
Catalytic Converter
$615
$376
Resonator
$284
$182
Muffler
$324
$177
Misc
($73) "discount"
$27 (gaskets, etc)
Total
$1150
$762

Unclear if they were using OEM parts or something and I was using aftermarket, or if there were 5+ hours of labor involved. If we had had more of a time luxury, we would have shopped around a little more (downside of single car household when you rely on your car).

At any rate, it's working beautifully now and we're happy with our decision.

I wrote about this, and mostly comparing repairing vs. replacing car here if anyone's interested: https://fetchingfinancialfreedom.com/just-spend-1150-repairing-500-car/


Just want to comment that one thing to consider when replacing older vehicle with newer ones are safety measure. Stability control, side impact airbags for front and rear passengers, better crush zones in case of accidents etc.

Yes money is a consideration, I mean this is MMM forum :) but how much is the value of your (and your passanger safety)? Something to think about...


Totally! This is something we struggled with. I mean, technically speaking, a tank-like 2017 SUV would likely be the safest vehicle, but we're not even considering that. Where do we draw the line?

I actually covered this in my post too :)

"
Saying no to fancy new safety tech really came down to two reasons for us:

  • There will always be new safety advances, which is awesome, but this doesn’t mean we should all buy a new car every year. We were perfectly happy with our old Camry before the big repair bill came up, so should we suddenly be displeased?
  • Driving habits are so much more important than having the latest and greatest safety features. Two friends of mine come to mind when I bring up driving habits. One is a typical “Masshole” driver, while the other drives as if she actually wants to live until tomorrow. I would feel so much safer riding in a rust bucket with this latter friend than in a tank of an SUV with the former. The best thing we can do for our own personal safety is to practice safe driving habits and say no to distracted driving. Side benefit: Also free!
"
If this repair requires a complete exhaust system - manifold(s), downpipe(s), catalytic converter(s), oxygen sensor(s), muffler(s) and assorted pipe, then it's going to be expensive.

But for the car to be in such condition, I would expect the rest of it to have a bunch of rust too, and might need other repairs that - when all added up - could push more in the direction of replacement. Preferably from a southern or western location without rust.

Mechanic says the car's in pretty good shape -- engine runs great and transmission's still got a lot of life left -- should be mostly problem free for the next few years (fingers crossed!) :)