Author Topic: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?  (Read 2272 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« on: December 20, 2015, 05:23:37 PM »
My frugal fancy woman and I recently bought a 2006 Honda Accord with 150000 miles on it for $5000.  It was mostly my idea.  We had mechanical problems right away with the car but had trouble with the dealer and could not get out of the sale.  Now we're another $500 into it and it's currently at the shop down the street and will not start.  So, what to do?

We are ready to get a different car, but want to minimize our losses.  Running the math on MMM's calculator shows that it's pretty much a wash unless we buy a used, perfect condition Scion Xa and drive it for ten years.

Does anyone have experience getting out of a bad car purchase?  We are unsure whether to stick with the Accord and get what use we can out of it, but it is just a matter of time until we will have spent way too much money on a car we did not get enough use out of.  If we are looking for a used car for under $5000, does anyone have any suggestions?  Is it worth it to buy a more expensive car with lower miles on it and better gas mileage, even if that means taking out a small auto loan?

These novice Mustachians need help!  Thank you!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 06:07:22 PM by libhistmus191 »


  • Stubble
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2015, 05:53:13 PM »
Hm. I cant speak to your exact situation, but my $4k Hyundai is in the repairs stage. I'm probably looking at $1k of repairs to get it back to perfect condition (already $600 in). My logic is this: think of all the possible repairs needed, add up the cost. If I can buy a good car for that, do it. If not, repair this one.

For me, 1k couldn't get me a car as good as the one I have, so I stay to the repairs.

I'd say take it to a mechanic you really really trust (or search for one with rave reviews) and have them do a very thorough check of the whole thing and quote you on all the repairs and maintenance it needs. If you think you could just buy a car again for that amount, do it. If not, do the repairs. Honestly, the repairs are probably going to be the way to go unless something really nasty is going on. (Eg needs a whole new engine)

And $500 in repairs isn't unheard of. It's not a lot especially for a used car. Thats like a set of tires or brakes, which any used car might need. I mean, you could buy a brand new car, and it's only a matter of time till you get hit with a big repair. So I wouldn't fret the $500 in repairs so far. That seems pretty par for the course.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2015, 06:05:19 PM »
We had a smiler issue with a used Subaru we purchased. I have no advice because our solution was to throw money at the problem. It was a private party purchase. After $1500 in repairs ($500 of which we were expecting) and it probably needing a new transmission, we couldn't sell it to someone in good conscience so we cut our losses and traded it in at the dealer for a certified used Prius. We've had it for a couple of years and love it. The Subaru is just a bad memory that cost us a lot of money!

The above advice is good though! Trusted mechanic, and depending on the repairs, totally expected.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2015, 06:07:02 PM »
Thanks all-that makes sense.  It just feels bad to pour money into a car that wasn't what we bargained for.  We'll know tomorrow (when the shop opens) what our real situation is as far as repairs go.  They said the computer indicated it needs a catalytic converter, which is a big expense, but I don't think that would explain why it wouldn't start on Friday.  It wasn't the battery or the starter, and the ignition coils were recently replaced. 


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2015, 06:12:12 PM »
Find it what all is really wrong with it first. How long have you had the car? What was wrong the first time?

Our mustachian vehicle is a 99 Toyota Camey we purchased 2 years ago with 88k mi for $5k from a Toyota dealer. First thing we did was the 90k mi service per the manual, $750. It was having some starting issues, like yours, and my fiancÚ bought new battery terminals for it and that fixed the issue. It had been "clunking" over bumps for a while, and needed new struts/mounts, which were around $800.

While the two bigger items weren't cheap, they were also wear and tear items basically. Stuff required after miles accumulated and due to age.

I cringed at the struts, and know there will be more items this year, however doing the math it's still far cheaper than getting like a $15k car which will need these things replaced as well. Taken care of well this car can last 200k more. The check engine light is on for some exhaust sensor, but that's like $1100 to fix and really does nothing (multiple mechanics said to ignore it.)

For what it's worth, next week we are starting a 3000 mile road trip and are taking the Camry instead of my 2013 truck. That is how confident I feel about the car.

Don't give up yet. Find out what the issues are and address. If the car hasn't been maintained the last 150,000 that may really be an issue. If it's some minor stuff here and there and your typical wear and tear items you'll be good to go.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2015, 06:17:27 PM by Trixr606 »


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2015, 06:16:59 PM »
Thanks, the issues started with a check engine light.  A cylinder misfire, an 02 censor, dirty ignition coils, and dirty spark plugs.  Those problems were supposedly addressed by the original mechanic (he did the work for free after much back and forth), but the most recent problem has come since then.  I feel like all the mechanics may be dealing with the symptoms and not the root cause.  I will definitely take the information and ideas you've provided into my discussions with the mechanics.  We'd love to be able to be like you- choosing our well taken care of car for a big road trip!

thurston howell iv

  • Bristles
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2015, 06:42:57 AM »
op:  Have you considered trying to do any of the repair work yourself? Changing plugs and coils in a Honda is so simple a kid could do it (literally!) It's also way cheaper. An O2 sensor requires a special socket which you can "rent" at a local parts store for free.

Most of your expense will always be labor on ANY car you buy. If you want to continue to drive a car and not be at the mercy of mechanics, you might want to try doing a few things on your own.  Everything you ever wanted to know is available online (web forums, and youtube).

BTW a CEL or check engine light merely tells you that there is an issue with the emissions system. (anything from a loose fuel cap, to a bad cat) It should not cause the car to not start.


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Used Car Dilemma-What do we do?
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2015, 08:41:01 AM »
Also look into your State's lemon laws. You might as well see if there is any recourse depending on your particular circumstances.