Author Topic: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?  (Read 4333 times)

Valencia de Valera

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Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« on: August 12, 2015, 08:26:11 PM »
We have two Honda Civics, a 2001 Coupe and 2004 Sedan, both with about 110K miles. DH just took his (the 2001) to the dealership for a recall and was told that the following repairs will need to be done in the near future (dealership prices):

Timing belt / water pump / spark plugs - ~$1100
Lower ball joint boots - $208
Oil pan replacement (damaged by a different dealership during an oil change) - $737
Check engine light is on - $?????? (it's $100 just for them to check it)

Also needs a new battery, and the tires are getting pretty worn.

Kelley Blue Book is showing his car to be worth between $1350 (dealership trade-in) to $2600 (private party sale) in fair condition. I'm assuming with the repairs needed we wouldn't be able to get that much, and this was a high school/college vehicle so it's not in great shape appearance-wise, having spent at least 6 years of its life without a garage. So far though all we've had to spend by way of repairs (other than a battery replacement 8 years ago) is $400 for a broken bearing, over 10 years of ownership.

Here are the options we're considering:

Option 1: Do (some of?) the repairs - We would probably just do the check engine light at first and see what that turns up. I'm inclined to assume that the dealership is overcharging us; does anyone know if these prices are fair? Or how long we could reasonably expect the car to last after making them?

Option 2: Sell the car or trade it in and either -

a. Buy another used car. If we go this route DH wants a certified pre-owned, and wants to spend $13-14k, but I think this is overkill and we could spend more like $10k(?). We would want another compact sedan. Any recommendations?

b. Attempt to live with only one car. We both work, and DH often works out of town so he would be the one with the car. We live about a mile away from my office and I usually ride my bike or walk to work, unless the weather is bad. Temps vary from 100+ to single digits in the winter, with rain, snow, ice, etc. As I said this is a small town, with zero public transportation options. Any suggestions on making this work? I do need to look presentable when I get there (business casual). Precipitation is my main concern although I also hate the cold.


My other concern is that if his car needs these repairs, mine can't be far behind, and it's been showing some signs of problems lately (it's going to the dealership for the recall soon too so we'll see what they say). I'm actually worried that we don't have a reliable car for a trip that we're planning to take at the beginning of next month. Sell one car and use the proceeds to repair the other? Trade them both in for one newer car (do they even let you do that?)? Or just give up and splurge on twin F-150s?
« Last Edit: August 12, 2015, 08:48:45 PM by Valencia de Valera »

firewalker

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2015, 08:45:07 PM »
My hunch is fix em and keep em. 110k miles on an 01 civic is awesome low. This is likely your first costly repair(?) so think about how little you have invested so far.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2015, 08:51:37 PM »
I second the fix em and keep em suggestion.   You can definitely do better than the dealership quotes.

Check out the following website for a fair estimate of what these repairs will cost in your zip code:

http://repairpal.com/estimator

Then keep in mind that the dealership tends to be on the high end, and the "around the corner" garage can be much cheaper than some of these figures.  Expect to pay roughly what this website suggests and don't settle for more.

mrshudson

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2015, 10:15:24 PM »
Definitely worth repair and keep. Dealership is ripping you off on the oil pan replacement, it is ridiculously simple to do:

http://honda-tech.com/honda-civic-2001-2005-78/01-civic-oil-pan-replacement-question-2554144/

I would go to an autoparts store to request they read the error code for the check engine light (usually done for free). Google the code and diagnose the problem yourself and see if it worth fixing. Check engine light can go off for things like occasional burning rich mix of fuel to air.

Timing belt and water pump are inevitable. You can actually DIY, but the belt tensioning can get tricky, so I would take it to a well reputable independent mechanic NOT a dealer. I have no idea on the lower ball joint boot - as in is there actual damage?

Spark plugs actually don't need replacement unless you notice issues during start - as in poor starting voltage due to gap being incorrect etc.  Dont take their word for it that the repairs are all necessary. Get a second opinion on the ball socket boot.

mrshudson

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2015, 10:23:04 PM »
Timing belt/water pump changes need to be done every 100k miles. Spark plugs don't swap out unless you notice starting issues. Good ones last at least 150k, no problems. Oil pan as I said needs to be DIY'd soon. I have no idea as to how long your car can go without the ball joint thing. Civics usually last at least 200k miles no problem with minor issues like this, which when averaged over the life of the car is insignificant relative to replacing the whole vehicle every 100k miles or so.

As to your 2004 Civic, barring the timing belt, water pump change, I can't think of anything that needs to be repaired pronto just by virtue of its age.

Cole

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2015, 10:35:03 PM »
Get under the car and look at the ball joint boots. If they are ripped they need replacement if not then they don't.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2015, 10:58:00 PM »
Agreed that oil pan replacement is an easy DIY.  Of course, my car has had a dented oil pan for the last 120k miles with no ill effect.
Check engine light can be diagnosed for free at Autozone.  Most probable causes: gas cap not on tight, or oxygen sensor needs to be replaced.  Both are easy DIYs.
Timing belt does indeed need to be done at that mileage.  Yes, it's expensive.  It's possible to do it yourself and save boatloads of money, but it takes several hours of hard work (I've done both ours in the last year).
You can inspect your own ball joint boots.  If they need to be replaced, ball joints are cheap ($20 for good ones at rockauto) and fairly easy to DIY.

Valencia de Valera

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2015, 07:08:59 AM »
Thank you everyone! That's quite a consensus and what I was figuring you all would say, I just kept hearing the advice to never spend more than 50% of a car's value on repairs in my head.

Some more details on the repairs, in case anyone is interested:
The oil pan needs to be replaced because it's aluminum but the cap is steel, and it was screwed on too tightly at the last oil change so the threads are all warped and torn up and it's going to (could?) start leaking.
The lower ball joint boots are cracked which would eventually cause damage the ball joints themselves, which are currently in good condition.

So far the plan is:
1) Take it to AutoZone for the code (thank you thank you zolotiyeruki and mrshudson!!) and see what's going on with the engine.
2) Depending on what that says (i.e. not imminent catastrophic engine failure), get that, the timing belt, water pump, and ball joints done.
3) Wait a bit on the oil pan. I'm also thinking about trying to see if the place that messed it up would give us a discount on installation of a new one, hubs is opposed to that idea because he says they'll just screw it up (ha) again.

Cole

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2015, 09:02:33 AM »
Thank you everyone! That's quite a consensus and what I was figuring you all would say, I just kept hearing the advice to never spend more than 50% of a car's value on repairs in my head.

Some more details on the repairs, in case anyone is interested:
The oil pan needs to be replaced because it's aluminum but the cap is steel, and it was screwed on too tightly at the last oil change so the threads are all warped and torn up and it's going to (could?) start leaking.
The lower ball joint boots are cracked which would eventually cause damage the ball joints themselves, which are currently in good condition.

So far the plan is:
1) Take it to AutoZone for the code (thank you thank you zolotiyeruki and mrshudson!!) and see what's going on with the engine.
2) Depending on what that says (i.e. not imminent catastrophic engine failure), get that, the timing belt, water pump, and ball joints done.
3) Wait a bit on the oil pan. I'm also thinking about trying to see if the place that messed it up would give us a discount on installation of a new one, hubs is opposed to that idea because he says they'll just screw it up (ha) again.
The shop that messed up your oil pain is definitely on the hook for the pan. They were paid to complete a job and they failed to complete the job and in the process actually caused harm to your car. You could demand they pay to fix it at another more reputable shop.

oneday

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2015, 02:08:51 PM »
Thank you everyone! That's quite a consensus and what I was figuring you all would say, I just kept hearing the advice to never spend more than 50% of a car's value on repairs in my head.

Some more details on the repairs, in case anyone is interested:
The oil pan needs to be replaced because it's aluminum but the cap is steel, and it was screwed on too tightly at the last oil change so the threads are all warped and torn up and it's going to (could?) start leaking.
The lower ball joint boots are cracked which would eventually cause damage the ball joints themselves, which are currently in good condition.

So far the plan is:
1) Take it to AutoZone for the code (thank you thank you zolotiyeruki and mrshudson!!) and see what's going on with the engine.
2) Depending on what that says (i.e. not imminent catastrophic engine failure), get that, the timing belt, water pump, and ball joints done.
3) Wait a bit on the oil pan. I'm also thinking about trying to see if the place that messed it up would give us a discount on installation of a new one, hubs is opposed to that idea because he says they'll just screw it up (ha) again.

Hi V de V, I had the same issue on my 08 Civic's oil pan. If you can, get the shop that screwed it up to fix it or pay to get it fixed. If that fails for some reason, ask your trusted mechanic about a heli-coil. Basically it puts new threads in place of the ruined ones. In the future, only take it to trusted mechanic for oil changes...I found it helps to mention that you have the heli-coil repair at the time you are taking it in for service. Just so they remember to take the extra care to hand tighten your oil plug instead of using the air wrench. Which they should not be doing anyway.

Rant: who are these knuckle-daggers who ruin the aluminum oil pans, anyway? There are so many of these Civic's out there that this should be a known issue by just about every oil change shop...

Valencia de Valera

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Re: Repair or sell a 15-year-old car?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2015, 08:03:05 PM »
Thanks oneday! We'll definitely look into doing the heli-coil option. Today hubs took the car to AutoZone as suggested, and we looked up the problems. Both could have been due to blown fuses so we checked those (no such luck) and tried swapping a part between his car and my car to see if that was the issue (also no luck... but, yet another time that having duplicate cars has come in handy), so we're going to call around and find the best place to take it for further testing, along with the timing belt/water pump and ball joint boots. I also checked the suggested prices online so we have a point of comparison. I feel like I really learned something today! Thank you everyone for your help!