Author Topic: Repair old car or buy another?  (Read 3005 times)

Melisande

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Repair old car or buy another?
« on: February 10, 2017, 08:16:05 AM »
I've just found out that my 2004 Toyota Corolla will need $2556 worth of repairs (including replacing a coil, spark plugs, clutch, sway bar links and other things.) I'm at a repair shop I trust, so I don't think there is some kind of massive up-sell going on. Plus, it was pretty obvious to me that the car was having some problems.

We tend to hang on to cars until they die, but the question is how do you define "car death"?

Also, our current financial situation would allow us to buy a newish pre-owned or even a new car w/o financing ($85,000 in cash; 1.8M net worth)

What would you do or advise?

Melisande

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2017, 08:19:48 AM »
And the 2004 Toyota has 125,000+ miles on it -- not particularly high.

Melisande

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2017, 08:40:48 AM »
Nevermind. We decided to go with the repairs ...


J_Stache

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 08:46:28 AM »
I still drive an '04 Subaru Outback.  A few years ago, rebuilt the head gasket.  My rule of thumb, assuming the car is in good working order otherwise, is amortize the repairs over two years and if the repairs are less than or close to $100 per month, I'll do the repair.  So my $2,200 or so head gasket repair (including a few other things) was under, so I did it.  The math works out for you too ($106.5/month).  This is an arbitrary number that I came up with, but it gives me a good place to evaluate repairs from.

neo von retorch

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2017, 08:55:20 AM »
I'm sure you paid them to replace the coil and plugs along with the other repairs; in the future, consider doing that part of the job yourself. (Assuming you mean "ignition coil.") It's "the same" job - you remove the ignition coils, which as easy as one simple bolt per coil, plus a little plastic clip you easily undo. Once they are out, spark plugs are slightly harder - you need to have a spark plug wrench to remove them (it's a $5 ratchet piece), a spark gap gauge (less than $5) and ideally a torque wrench $30) for tightening the right amount, but it's overall about a 15 minute job, and probably saves you $80-160 in labor.

HipGnosis

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2017, 05:51:36 PM »
I know you said you already did the 'repairs', but...

One could argue that those are not really 'repairs'.  They are (more like) consumable maintenance.

And I agree that almost everyone should be able to do coil and sparkplug replacement.  There are videos on youtube that show you how it's done on your car/engine.   And lots of videos for doing lots of other things.

Melisande

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2017, 06:20:41 PM »
I know you said you already did the 'repairs', but...

One could argue that those are not really 'repairs'.  They are (more like) consumable maintenance.

And I agree that almost everyone should be able to do coil and sparkplug replacement.  There are videos on youtube that show you how it's done on your car/engine.   And lots of videos for doing lots of other things.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

neo von retorch

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2017, 07:40:10 PM »
Yes - I almost feel that way about mending clothing :) The main reason is that a car, at first glance, feels like a "black box." What might shock you is that changing a spark plug is no more complicated then a combination of mending clothing and, quite literally, changing a light bulb. It's a physical object screwed into place, and you measure a gap about the width of a needle. Of course it's nice if you can get someone to help you the first time you do it, to build some confidence. Just know that I changed my ignition coils and spark plugs without having anyone helping me. I did watch videos on YouTube first! That helped me realize how easy it is. I probably could do more advanced things, but I have the same kind of (irrational) fear about things like valves and gaskets. But I have done disc brakes and rotors a few times, and that is also pretty straight forward.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2017, 07:43:13 PM »
I know you said you already did the 'repairs', but...

One could argue that those are not really 'repairs'.  They are (more like) consumable maintenance.

And I agree that almost everyone should be able to do coil and sparkplug replacement.  There are videos on youtube that show you how it's done on your car/engine.   And lots of videos for doing lots of other things.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

Spark plugs are probably about as easy a light bulbs. Honestly. You tube it. You might be surprised; many people that do their own car repairs are not rocket scientists, and I doubt the people that work at your auto shop are either. 

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 07:59:39 PM »
Nevermind. We decided to go with the repairs ...

I know it's a done deal, but it looks like the repairs came up to about 75% of the car's person to person sale value.

At that percentage, and given your stash, I would let it come down to if you like the car or not. If you don't like it, it would be a good time to scrap it. If you like it, the repair is cheaper than buying another one.

Syonyk

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2017, 08:35:42 PM »
We tend to hang on to cars until they die, but the question is how do you define "car death"?

Generally, for a utility grade car (nothing special, which applies to yours), I define "car death" as "serious body rust/rot issues that are starting to look structural."

Or, post-crash damage that involves significant frame issues such that a proper alignment is impossible.

Otherwise?  Fix it.  IMO.

Or until you're sick of dealing with it, but the above is where I would put a car in the junkyard.  "Sick of it" or "found a less-crappy car" just means sell the previous one.

Quote
Also, our current financial situation would allow us to buy a newish pre-owned or even a new car w/o financing ($85,000 in cash; 1.8M net worth)

Huh.  Not what I expected given the car in question.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

Buy him a toolset, set him in the garage with a fresh set of spark plugs, a new coil, and a laptop with access to YouTube...

I can do pretty much all my own work, though on rare occasions I decide not to (dead of winter is usually enough to convince me to go pay a shop to do something, or exhaust work - I can't weld).  I learned because I had to.  My options were fix a car, bike, or walk, and biking and walking weren't options for some of the distances, payloads, or temperatures involved.  And it went from there.  Being able to do your own work opens up great options - my cheapest cars were $100, $150, $200, $350 (plus a fuel pump), and then up from there, but I lived many years of my life on those cars (in the 2002-2008 timeframe, so pre cash-for-clunkers value screwuppery).  And then did jobs for other people for food money.

There's pretty much no excuse for not being able to do basic work on a bog-standard car in the YouTube era.  I wouldn't expect someone to start out with clutch replacement unless you had some friends who worked on cars who were easily convinced by a six pack, but plugs and coils?  That's about as trivial as you can get on most cars.

Reynolds531

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 08:37:43 PM »
I know you are long gone op but 2004 car and 1.8 million net worth.

BRAVO, slow clap

dcozad999

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2017, 08:13:31 AM »
We tend to hang on to cars until they die, but the question is how do you define "car death"?

Generally, for a utility grade car (nothing special, which applies to yours), I define "car death" as "serious body rust/rot issues that are starting to look structural."

Or, post-crash damage that involves significant frame issues such that a proper alignment is impossible.

Otherwise?  Fix it.  IMO.

Or until you're sick of dealing with it, but the above is where I would put a car in the junkyard.  "Sick of it" or "found a less-crappy car" just means sell the previous one.

Quote
Also, our current financial situation would allow us to buy a newish pre-owned or even a new car w/o financing ($85,000 in cash; 1.8M net worth)

Huh.  Not what I expected given the car in question.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

Buy him a toolset, set him in the garage with a fresh set of spark plugs, a new coil, and a laptop with access to YouTube...

I can do pretty much all my own work, though on rare occasions I decide not to (dead of winter is usually enough to convince me to go pay a shop to do something, or exhaust work - I can't weld).  I learned because I had to.  My options were fix a car, bike, or walk, and biking and walking weren't options for some of the distances, payloads, or temperatures involved.  And it went from there.  Being able to do your own work opens up great options - my cheapest cars were $100, $150, $200, $350 (plus a fuel pump), and then up from there, but I lived many years of my life on those cars (in the 2002-2008 timeframe, so pre cash-for-clunkers value screwuppery).  And then did jobs for other people for food money.

There's pretty much no excuse for not being able to do basic work on a bog-standard car in the YouTube era.  I wouldn't expect someone to start out with clutch replacement unless you had some friends who worked on cars who were easily convinced by a six pack, but plugs and coils?  That's about as trivial as you can get on most cars.


Perhaps he values his spare time and doesn't want to learn to do the work.
If everyone did their own auto work (and house renovations), there would be a lot of people without jobs.

I've changed my brake pads myself a few times, but my mechanic will do it in 20 minutes and only charge me $20 for the labor. Not only does this save me 2 hours of my time, I get to help him out as well. I say fuck the dealerships, but I'm happy to throw any work that needs to be done to a small time mechanic.




JLee

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 08:15:38 AM »
We tend to hang on to cars until they die, but the question is how do you define "car death"?

Generally, for a utility grade car (nothing special, which applies to yours), I define "car death" as "serious body rust/rot issues that are starting to look structural."

Or, post-crash damage that involves significant frame issues such that a proper alignment is impossible.

Otherwise?  Fix it.  IMO.

Or until you're sick of dealing with it, but the above is where I would put a car in the junkyard.  "Sick of it" or "found a less-crappy car" just means sell the previous one.

Quote
Also, our current financial situation would allow us to buy a newish pre-owned or even a new car w/o financing ($85,000 in cash; 1.8M net worth)

Huh.  Not what I expected given the car in question.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

Buy him a toolset, set him in the garage with a fresh set of spark plugs, a new coil, and a laptop with access to YouTube...

I can do pretty much all my own work, though on rare occasions I decide not to (dead of winter is usually enough to convince me to go pay a shop to do something, or exhaust work - I can't weld).  I learned because I had to.  My options were fix a car, bike, or walk, and biking and walking weren't options for some of the distances, payloads, or temperatures involved.  And it went from there.  Being able to do your own work opens up great options - my cheapest cars were $100, $150, $200, $350 (plus a fuel pump), and then up from there, but I lived many years of my life on those cars (in the 2002-2008 timeframe, so pre cash-for-clunkers value screwuppery).  And then did jobs for other people for food money.

There's pretty much no excuse for not being able to do basic work on a bog-standard car in the YouTube era.  I wouldn't expect someone to start out with clutch replacement unless you had some friends who worked on cars who were easily convinced by a six pack, but plugs and coils?  That's about as trivial as you can get on most cars.


Perhaps he values his spare time and doesn't want to learn to do the work.
If everyone did their own auto work (and house renovations), there would be a lot of people without jobs.

I've changed my brake pads myself a few times, but my mechanic will do it in 20 minutes and only charge me $20 for the labor. Not only does this save me 2 hours of my time, I get to help him out as well. I say fuck the dealerships, but I'm happy to throw any work that needs to be done to a small time mechanic.

If everyone was an epic mustachian and never ate out, rode bikes everywhere, etc, there would also be a lot of people without jobs.

A large percentage of normal car maintenance is incredibly easy -- and you know as well as I do that $20 for a brake job is not the norm.

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 08:30:34 AM »
I know you said you already did the 'repairs', but...

One could argue that those are not really 'repairs'.  They are (more like) consumable maintenance.

And I agree that almost everyone should be able to do coil and sparkplug replacement.  There are videos on youtube that show you how it's done on your car/engine.   And lots of videos for doing lots of other things.

To be honest, I can't even begin to imagine either myself or my husband doing our own car repairs. I can cook, mend clothing and change light bulbs -- that's about it as far as my "handiness" goes. For my husband, subtract the cooking and add some caulking. I have a hard time even imagining us doing our own painting or home improvement, much less car repairs. I am in awe that people here are that handy.

Spark plugs are probably about as easy a light bulbs. Honestly. You tube it. You might be surprised; many people that do their own car repairs are not rocket scientists, and I doubt the people that work at your auto shop are either.

It depends on the car.  The above is probably true of the OPs Corolla.  I had a 1999 Ford Expedition (facepunch) that I would gladly pay someone to replace the plugs/coil packs.  It required specialized tools and was just ridiculously designed such that 4 of 8 of the cylinders were hopelessly unreachable by human beings.  (I presume they had highly trained, double jointed chimpanzees that did this at the mechanic's shop.)

Syonyk

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2017, 09:25:51 AM »
Perhaps he values his spare time and doesn't want to learn to do the work.

That wasn't the impression I got, but it could be.

Quote
If everyone did their own auto work (and house renovations), there would be a lot of people without jobs.

And if you want to go down that slope, my wife is a terrorist, because her staying at home instead of earning money to pay a babysitter is damaging the economic conditions of the country - she could be contributing to GDP and Jobs, and isn't!  ::rolleyes::

Quote
I've changed my brake pads myself a few times, but my mechanic will do it in 20 minutes and only charge me $20 for the labor. Not only does this save me 2 hours of my time, I get to help him out as well. I say fuck the dealerships, but I'm happy to throw any work that needs to be done to a small time mechanic.

Your mechanic is an exception.

I'm at a point in my life where I'll pay someone to do things I don't want to do, or in conditions I don't want to do them in (dead of winter?  I'll pay someone with a heated shop), but I can do them, and generally have a pretty solid idea of what needs to be done and what it involves, so I'm not going to get BSed into something I don't need.

dcozad999

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 09:45:11 AM »
Perhaps he values his spare time and doesn't want to learn to do the work.

That wasn't the impression I got, but it could be.

Quote
If everyone did their own auto work (and house renovations), there would be a lot of people without jobs.

And if you want to go down that slope, my wife is a terrorist, because her staying at home instead of earning money to pay a babysitter is damaging the economic conditions of the country - she could be contributing to GDP and Jobs, and isn't!  ::rolleyes::

Quote
I've changed my brake pads myself a few times, but my mechanic will do it in 20 minutes and only charge me $20 for the labor. Not only does this save me 2 hours of my time, I get to help him out as well. I say fuck the dealerships, but I'm happy to throw any work that needs to be done to a small time mechanic.

Your mechanic is an exception.

I'm at a point in my life where I'll pay someone to do things I don't want to do, or in conditions I don't want to do them in (dead of winter?  I'll pay someone with a heated shop), but I can do them, and generally have a pretty solid idea of what needs to be done and what it involves, so I'm not going to get BSed into something I don't need.


I was just trying to raise an alternate point.  Nothing wrong with doing the work yourself. But if you have the finances, there's nothing wrong with contracting out work you don't care to do.

Your example of your wife being a terrorist is a little over the top, but if that's your thing, keep doing you.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2017, 09:04:25 PM »
I was just trying to raise an alternate point.  Nothing wrong with doing the work yourself. But if you have the finances, there's nothing wrong with contracting out work you don't care to do.

It was a reasonable point. I'd pay to get the work done as well. I'm not planning to learn any car repair skills in this life. I'm okay with that.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2017, 01:05:17 AM »
It depends on the car.  The above is probably true of the OPs Corolla.  I had a 1999 Ford Expedition (facepunch) that I would gladly pay someone to replace the plugs/coil packs.  It required specialized tools and was just ridiculously designed such that 4 of 8 of the cylinders were hopelessly unreachable by human beings.  (I presume they had highly trained, double jointed chimpanzees that did this at the mechanic's shop.)
Ugh. I have cars with oil filters in locations such as this. "Your picture book tells me to place hand around hot exhaust pipe to reach dirty filter and turn to release hot liquid that will drain across multiple car parts to drip onto the floor at several unpredictable points like a messy game of masochistic plinko. Is this correct?"  'Yes. Our engineers are the best.'

Syonyk

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2017, 08:33:04 AM »
Toyota's transverse V6s.

You had to reach down, from the top, past the exhaust manifold, to undo the filter.

Most quick oil change guys I knew looked like bad cutters from all the scars from those cars.  You ended up with scars across your arm in just about the right spot.

I like my old Subarus.  Sideways mounted filter with nothing under it.

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #20 on: February 17, 2017, 08:46:05 AM »
It depends on the car.  The above is probably true of the OPs Corolla.  I had a 1999 Ford Expedition (facepunch) that I would gladly pay someone to replace the plugs/coil packs.  It required specialized tools and was just ridiculously designed such that 4 of 8 of the cylinders were hopelessly unreachable by human beings.  (I presume they had highly trained, double jointed chimpanzees that did this at the mechanic's shop.)
Ugh. I have cars with oil filters in locations such as this. "Your picture book tells me to place hand around hot exhaust pipe to reach dirty filter and turn to release hot liquid that will drain across multiple car parts to drip onto the floor at several unpredictable points like a messy game of masochistic plinko. Is this correct?"  'Yes. Our engineers are the best.'

The original oil filter on my Triumph TR6 is a cannister mounted at 90 degrees to the engine, just beneath the steering linkage.  You unbolt it and a quart of oil splatters down the side of the engine, across the I-beam frame and at least half of it misses your catch pan.  Then you have to wiggle it while turning the steering wheel to get it out, reach in and pull out the filter element, drenched in oil, and clean out the cannister.  Reverse the process to re-install.  Some genius noticed that if the car had an optional oil cooler, it was bolted on the cannister location with pipes leading to the cooler and a dangling spin on filter.  They manufactured that part without drilling out the holes for the oil lines and BINGO... instant spin on oil filter.

Melisande

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #21 on: April 13, 2017, 08:23:47 AM »
So, after the $2,550+ repair job in February, the "check engine" light just came on again. And I don't even drive the thing every day. Shudder.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2017, 08:32:17 AM »
So, after the $2,550+ repair job in February, the "check engine" light just came on again. And I don't even drive the thing every day. Shudder.

$0.01 worth of electrical tape will cover that right up and you can ignore it. ;)

Syonyk

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2017, 08:37:02 AM »
So, after the $2,550+ repair job in February, the "check engine" light just came on again. And I don't even drive the thing every day. Shudder.

So pull codes and see what it is...

neo von retorch

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Re: Repair old car or buy another?
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2017, 08:37:26 AM »
Ha! Yeah it could be anything. Earlier this week, my wife's 2010 Corolla was making a funny noise. She took it to the dealership, who quoted $500 for an alternator (and $68 for air filters, and $18 for a light bulb.) I paid $180 for an alternator, about $20 for air filters and $3 for a bulb. Took me maybe 90 minutes to replace all those, most of the time was running over to my laptop to watch some more video to double check things. One big struggle was a 14mm pivot bolt, which would've been pretty easy if I owned a $15 breaker bar, so that's on my shopping list.

Oh, and the dealer claimed her check engine light (CEL) had come on while they were checking it out, but we never saw it and it isn't on after I worked on the car... wacky.

One time a couple months ago, the Corolla wouldn't start. I suggested she take her gas cap off and put it back on. It worked! Corolla will almost certainly keep running for a long time, CEL or not. It's an engine on wheels; a very reliable engine. If it has fuel, air and spark, it's running. Pretty simple, really. Don't let the "black box" stress you out.