Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

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Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:53 pm

I just had oil change on my 16-year old Honda Civic and asked for an estimate of the 105,000-mile maintenance service. The mechanic told me that, in addition to the regular maintenance, I need:
1. Timing belt
2. To change the left axle because the CV boot is cracked-open and leaking.
3. Optionally change the right axle because the right CV boot is cracked.

He showed to me the cracked CV boots and the leak.

The mechanic will give me an estimate tomorrow, but I anticipate that the total bill to be fairly high. My natural tendency is to pay to get it fixed. However, as a student of cognitive biases I am recognizing that I may be acting on one. Specifically, I got attached to my Civic after all these years. It has never caused me problems, and I never had to pay for expensive repairs. And so my thinking may be similar to that of Taleb's turkey that was increasingly convinced in her master's benevolence ... all the way to the Thanksgiving dinner.

My Civic may eat me alive if after the currently suggested repairs I will find out that I need to fix transmission or something like that. And so to avoid a protracted Thanksgiving, should I just buy a new car? Here is how I see my options:
1. Fix the Civic and hope for the best.
2. Buy a new car and sell the Civic.
3. Drive the Civic until the axle breaks or the timing belt fails. Then abandon the Civic and buy a new car.

With respect to option #3, how much trouble will I be in at the time of failure?

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby 123 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:06 pm

It will all depend on where you are at the time of the failure. If it dies in your driveway it would be convenient but cars (like most people) don't die at convenient times. If it dies on the way to driving to Las Vegas (from anywhere) it could be costly for towing/disposal and replacement transportation for the balance of the intended journey. If most of your driving is town then it will likely die in town. If you venture outside of town there's a chance it will die outside of town. Kind of like living in a Stephen King novel if you know what I mean.

I had a car that got totaled due by another car while it was just parked on the street. While I got a quick and fair insurance settlement it happened 6 weeks before the new models came out. I did a few cheap weekend car rentals until the new models were out and I was happy with my approach. Regardless of when the car dies you'll be able to handle it.

But with that low mileage if I could be comfortable with the car for repairs less then $1,000 I'd probably get them done and hold onto it.

If the mechanic is at a dealer I'd look around for an independent garage for more economical repairs. When I switched after my car was 7 years old my I found the cost was less then half of what it cost me at the dealer.
Last edited by 123 on Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:25 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby curmudgeon » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:11 pm

My answer would be to choose repairs based on your usage mode for the car. There are things I would do for a car I take on cross-country trips that I wouldn't do for a car used around town. Given the age and mileage, I suspect cross-country is not on your agenda.

I would replace the timing belt, because you are running on borrowed time there, and those tend to fail abruptly and leave you completely stranded. CV joints/axles, on the other hand, tend to be far more tolerant of abuse and usually give ample warning before they fail (in terms of grinding noises, clunking on accelleration/turns etc). Unless you are in a high-salt environment, I'd probably let them be for now. I haven't owned a civic myself, so others may have more specific experience to offer.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby yosef » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:12 pm

Wait and see what the repairs will be, and then decide between options 1 and 2. Option 3 IMO is a bad idea because either of those components failing will strand you, and then you'll have to find something new in a hurry, which could cost you.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby nodenuff2 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:12 pm

Did you know this day was coming and are you prepared for it? If so then say goodby old friend and start your search for the next one. If not then repair the vehicle if those repairs do not exceed 50% of the value of the repaired vehicle while you search for the next one in a more relaxed mode. If this is our only vehicle. You need to have faith it will not put you down. Nice 3-4 year old car will last a long time especially as you must take excellent care of them. if you do or don't repair the old one you should disclose the true condition when you sell it.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby YttriumNitrate » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:15 pm

VictoriaF wrote:3. Drive Civic until the axle breaks or the timing belt fails. Then abandon Civic and buy a new car. With respect to option #3, how much trouble will I be in at the time of failure?


For the timing belt failure, it depends on whether or not you've got an interference engine. Check this list to see if your car has one.

http://www.aa1car.com/library/timing_belts_interference_engines.htm

If it's on the list and the timing belt breaks you need an new engine. If it's not on the list, you just need a new timing belt.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby hicabob » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:15 pm

I bet it will be about $1500 total but ...

-timing belt is a must fix - if it fails you trash the engine (I think it's an "interference engine") as are bad cv joints and once the boots crack, dirt gets in and they do go bad .

I'd get it fixed and keep on truckin'
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:24 pm

Thank you, all! Here is additional information:

Current Usage:
- I now live within walking distance from work and don't use the car for commute.
- I drive to business meetings and social activities, most of which are within 40-mile radius.
- Occasionally, I drive 200-300 miles, but I try to avoid it because my car is old.

Planning:
- In about half-year my circumstances will change. I may start driving more and farther.
- If I do get a new car, it will be a new one, so that I will keep it for another 16 years.
- I am assuming that the resale value of my current car is $0, because I hate dealing with this. If I buy a new car, I will probably donate this one.

Given this additional information, does it make sense to keep Civic until January as is (without any repairs), and just buy a new car in January?

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby johnep » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:31 pm

Since you will need a newer car by January, I recommend you get the timing belt fixed and see what you can get for your car (personally, I would never dispose of a car with that kind of problem unless it was being junked). Carmax will buy it from you at a wholesale price which may not be much but an old Civic has some value. Buy your new car now before you have to invest in further repairs. Best wishes.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby 123 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:34 pm

My vote is to drive it to January without repairs. Based on your assumption of no resale value repairs would not increase it. The money saved on repairs will become your contingency fund if earlier replacement turns out to be necessary. There doesn't seem to be a real safety hazard issue, the car will just stop running. Pretend you didn't hear what the mechanic said.

On the other hand, I'm very tempted to agree with johnep. Start shopping for a replacement now and get it all off your mind.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:43 pm

Maintenance information:
- The Owner's Manual recommends replacing the timing belt and inspecting the water pump every 105,000 miles or every 7 years, whichever comes first.
- I had this service done in 2003, when my car had 55,000 miles and 6 years.

And so mileage-wise I don't need a new timing belt, but it's been 10 years since I changed it, which is greater than 7 years recommended by Honda.

Does it change your recommendation to change the timing belt now?

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Random Poster » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:47 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Maintenance information:
- The Owner's Manual recommends replacing the timing belt and inspecting the water pump every 105,000 miles or every 7 years, whichever comes first.
- I had this service done in 2003, when my car had 55,000 miles and 6 years.

And so mileage-wise I don't need a new timing belt, but it's been 10 years since I changed it, which is greater than 7 years recommended by Honda.

Does it change your recommendation to change the timing belt now?

Victoria


No. You are overdue on the timing belt. Get it changed.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:49 pm

johnep wrote:Since you will need a newer car by January, I recommend you get the timing belt fixed and see what you can get for your car (personally, I would never dispose of a car with that kind of problem unless it was being junked). Carmax will buy it from you at a wholesale price which may not be much but an old Civic has some value. Buy your new car now before you have to invest in further repairs. Best wishes.


John,

I will disclose the car condition to whoever gets it.

How does Carmax operate? If I call them, will they come over, pick up the car, give me a check, and that's it? My price anchor is $0, and anything above that is fine for as long as I don't have to do much to get it.

Thank you,

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby curmudgeon » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:52 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Thank you, all! Here is additional information:


Planning:
- In about half-year my circumstances will change. I may start driving more and farther.
- If I do get a new car, it will be a new one, so that I will keep it for another 16 years.
- I am assuming that the resale value of my current car is $0, because I hate dealing with this. If I buy a new car, I will probably donate this one.

Given this additional information, does it make sense to keep Civic until January as is (without any repairs), and just buy a new car in January?

Victoria

If you think it is likely that you will want a new car soon, then there is no point in sinking substantial dollars into preventive maintenance on the old one.

On the other hand, the better cars of the last 20 years have pretty good longevity. If you'd rather not buy a new car soon, you can do those items, make sure tires and brakes are in good shape, and reasonably use this one for another 50-100K miles.

Sometimes you are just ready to have the additional safety/comfort/convenience features of a new car (and a higher degree of confidence on trips). The choice is another form of asset allocation, though it has different aspects than the stock/bonds type.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Random Poster » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:55 pm

For the record, I used to have a 1994 Honda Civic, which I bought from my mother when it was 4 years old and I kept it until it was 15 years old.

The only reasons I sold it were: (i) It was increasingly difficult for me to get in and out of, as it was very low to the ground; (ii) I got very tired of having the headlights of other cars burn spots in my eyes through the rear-view mirror when I was driving to and from work in the mornings and evenings; (iii) I wanted a car that could hold more stuff; and (iv) the car was due for a whole bunch of maintenance (the timing belt, for one, plus new tires, plus the state inspection was coming up and the car registration fee was just around the corner). After 15 years of faithful service, I just wanted something new and it seemed like a good time to get what I wanted. So I got a Honda CR-V. Higher riding, more carrying capacity, no tires or maintenance issues to worry about for a while.

Quite frankly, if I had the room for it, I would have kept the Civic and bought the CR-V anyway. But I didn't, so and I traded the Civic in. I still miss the car, and I have no doubt that had I done the maintenance, it would still be running strong today.

My point of the story is this: if the car has been reliable so far (and it appears that it has been), its current issues are pretty common issues and give no hint of any impeding issue with the car. So unless you have other substantive reasons to want to get another car, just keep what you've got and get the work done.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 2:57 pm

curmudgeon wrote:If you think it is likely that you will want a new car soon, then there is no point in sinking substantial dollars into preventive maintenance on the old one.


I don't know if I will need a new car. I might. It depends on several other decisions I have to make, and those decisions are much more important.

curmudgeon wrote:On the other hand, the better cars of the last 20 years have pretty good longevity. If you'd rather not buy a new car soon, you can do those items, make sure tires and brakes are in good shape, and reasonably use this one for another 50-100K miles.

Sometimes you are just ready to have the additional safety/comfort/convenience features of a new car (and a higher degree of confidence on trips). The choice is another form of asset allocation, though it has different aspects than the stock/bonds type.


I don't want safety, comfort or convenience. If my car lived forever, I would be happy with it forever. However, I am realizing that it is limiting my options. For example, I have been avoiding long drives to avoid getting stranded.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:02 pm

Random Poster wrote:For the record, I used to have a 1994 Honda Civic, which I bought from my mother when it was 4 years old and I kept it until it was 15 years old.

The only reasons I sold it were: (i) It was increasingly difficult for me to get in and out of, as it was very low to the ground; (ii) I got very tired of having the headlights of other cars burn spots in my eyes through the rear-view mirror when I was driving to and from work in the mornings and evenings; (iii) I wanted a car that could hold more stuff; and (iv) the car was due for a whole bunch of maintenance (the timing belt, for one, plus new tires, plus the state inspection was coming up and the car registration fee was just around the corner). After 15 years of faithful service, I just wanted something new and it seemed like a good time to get what I wanted. So I got a Honda CR-V. Higher riding, more carrying capacity, no tires or maintenance issues to worry about for a while.

Quite frankly, if I had the room for it, I would have kept the Civic and bought the CR-V anyway. But I didn't, so and I traded the Civic in. I still miss the car, and I have no doubt that had I done the maintenance, it would still be running strong today.

My point of the story is this: if the car has been reliable so far (and it appears that it has been), its current issues are pretty common issues and give no hint of any impeding issue with the car. So unless you have other substantive reasons to want to get another car, just keep what you've got and get the work done.


It appears that an optimal approach is:
1. Change the timing belt (about $500?).
2. Don't bother with the right CV boot, because it still has some cracking margin.
3. Fix the left (already cracked) CV boot if the cost is under $500. Otherwise, don't drive too far, listen for funny noises, and once they appear buy a new car.
4. The total cost of repairs should be less than $1,000--otherwise, don't do the CV boot.

How does it sound?

Victoria

P.S. Honda CR-V is huge. I would be looking for another Civic, or possibly Honda Fit.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Fallible » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:08 pm

If you wait a half-year to sell, you'll have more time to say goodbye. :(
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:11 pm

Fallible wrote:If you wait a half-year to sell, you'll have more time to say goodbye. :(


But what if a protracted good-bye saying will make me so sentimental that I will never want to abandon it?

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby YttriumNitrate » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:18 pm

VictoriaF wrote:- I now live within walking distance from work and don't use the car for commute.
- I drive to business meetings and social activities, most of which are within 40-mile radius.
- Occasionally, I drive 200-300 miles, but I try to avoid it because my car is old.


If you're going to drive it until the engine goes, you may want to look into getting AAA plus. I think it's $130 a year, but includes three or four tows (up to 100 miles each) per year.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:22 pm

YttriumNitrate wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:- I now live within walking distance from work and don't use the car for commute.
- I drive to business meetings and social activities, most of which are within 40-mile radius.
- Occasionally, I drive 200-300 miles, but I try to avoid it because my car is old.


If you're going to drive it until the engine goes, you may want to look into getting AAA plus. I think it's $130 a year, but includes three or four tows (up to 100 miles each) per year.


Excellent suggestion!

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby reggiesimpson » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:25 pm

I would get another opinion from a different mechanic.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Random Poster » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:25 pm

VictoriaF wrote:It appears that an optimal approach is:
1. Change the timing belt (about $500?).
2. Don't bother with the right CV boot, because it still has some cracking margin.
3. Fix the left (already cracked) CV boot if the cost is under $500. Otherwise, don't drive too far, listen for funny noises, and once they appear buy a new car.
4. The total cost of repairs should be less than $1,000--otherwise, don't do the CV boot.

How does it sound?

Victoria

P.S. Honda CR-V is huge. I would be looking for another Civic, or possibly Honda Fit.


I don't know if what you have proposed is the "optimal approach," but it is certainly a reasonable one.

That said, I'd expect the timing belt change to cost more than $500. I don't have any frame of reference for a CV boot replacement.

As an aside, I looked at getting a Fit. The price difference between it and the CR-V was around $2500, as I recall, but the CR-V was roomier, higher up, and felt sturdier. When I sat in the Fit and wiggled my body, I could feel the whole car shake, which didn't inspire too much confidence (the same level of car shake was not apparent in the CR-V). For me, the CR-V was, and remains, perfect.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Mike Scott » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:26 pm

It sounds like it's time to let it go while it has some value beyond scrap metal price. These repairs are likely to cost more than the current value of the car. On the other hand, I sold my last two cars for "parts" after having them towed home.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Fallible » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:28 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Fallible wrote:If you wait a half-year to sell, you'll have more time to say goodbye. :(


But what if a protracted good-bye saying will make me so sentimental that I will never want to abandon it?

Victoria


But remember (and don't tell your faithful Civic I said this), you'll be new-car shopping while you say goodbye, a sure cure for excess sentimentality. :D
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:31 pm

123 wrote:But with that low mileage if I could be comfortable with the car for repairs less then $1,000 I'd probably get them done and hold onto it.

If the mechanic is at a dealer I'd look around for an independent garage for more economical repairs. When I switched after my car was 7 years old my I found the cost was less then half of what it cost me at the dealer.


The mechanic is not at a dealer. I chose this mechanic from Washington Consumer's Checkbook as a highly rated one for quality and price. So far, it's been fine. Until today. When I said that the axle was a monkey wrench, he laughed.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby patriciamgr2 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:34 pm

a friend just sold his car through CarMax. you bring car in for an appraisal (takes about 1/2 hour); they give you bid good for 7 days. when you return with title, they issue you a bank draft. (no pickup or courtesy shuttle in our town). He got a good price, but less than he could get selling privately (not an option I'd consider unless I had a death wish).

I'd strongly suggest calling CarMax or any similar service & ask them the questions you posted. in general, a secondhand car dealer will get better pricing on repairs than you will get, so they may deduct less from the Kelley Blue Book value for repairs than you would have to pay. Getting an estimate of what your car is worth (i) as is and (ii) fixed, may help you decide. (I personally wouldn't pay more than 1/2 of current value of car for repairs).

I wouldn't drive a car with a timing belt about to go even for a few months; that's a safety issue. If you're not the sort of person who inspects your car frequently, you might not have much warning of your belt shredding. "Just having your car stop" doesn't sound too bad on a side street in your neighborhood; more problematic on the freeway or at night in an area unfamiliar to you. I try to replace boots before/as they crack because otherwise all of the dirt, etc. gets in (I live in a sandy, hot area, however) & one is faced with a much more expensive axle repair down the road.

My main question:
Is the change in circ's in 6 mos or so really enough to change a car decision? You'll want something with good gas mileage no matter what. Buying a car at the end of a model year (providing that the models for next year don't represent a radical redesign) is often a cost-effective way to buy new.

Good Luck from proud owner of a 13-year old Subaru.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby 123 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:36 pm

There are nice things about having a new car and (hopefully) not have to be concerned about significant repair issues.

There are also nice things about having a car you consider "disposable".

Of course there are other things that often come into play. If your present living arrangements preclude secure parking (if that's an issue in your neighborhood) but the January change includes secure parking then you're better off with a "disposable" car for now.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:37 pm

nodenuff2 wrote:Did you know this day was coming and are you prepared for it? If so then say goodby old friend and start your search for the next one. If not then repair the vehicle if those repairs do not exceed 50% of the value of the repaired vehicle while you search for the next one in a more relaxed mode. If this is our only vehicle. You need to have faith it will not put you down. Nice 3-4 year old car will last a long time especially as you must take excellent care of them. if you do or don't repair the old one you should disclose the true condition when you sell it.


As my expected value of the car is $0, any repairs are exceeding its half. It is my only vehicle and getting alternative transportation is difficult, because using public transport here is very difficult. On the other hand, with my currently low mileage I can wait. I think.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:46 pm

Honda recommends changing the timing belt at 60,000 miles and then 120,000 miles - but if you are going to change the timing belt, you might as well change the water pump since they are in the same vicinity and it requires the same parts to be removed to gain access to it. My independent mechanic quoted me $360 - labor, timing belt and pump. It's the labor that costs the most with changing the belt, a new belt OEM costs about $35, the pump is more costly - the labor is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
I would not recommend driving a car whose axle is about to break - I've never been in a car where that has happened, but I can't imagine the law of physics makes for an enjoyable end to your driving. That all said, if you maintain that car, it will last longer than you can imagine, usually the body will go before the mechanical pieces do.
I've had two independent mechanics tell me it's miles over time.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby johnep » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
johnep wrote:Since you will need a newer car by January, I recommend you get the timing belt fixed and see what you can get for your car (personally, I would never dispose of a car with that kind of problem unless it was being junked). Carmax will buy it from you at a wholesale price which may not be much but an old Civic has some value. Buy your new car now before you have to invest in further repairs. Best wishes.


John,

I will disclose the car condition to whoever gets it.

How does Carmax operate? If I call them, will they come over, pick up the car, give me a check, and that's it? My price anchor is $0, and anything above that is fine for as long as I don't have to do much to get it.

Thank you,

Victoria


Victoria,
You take your car to Carmax and they assess the value of it and give you a price which is good for 7 days. As I said, the price is wholesale which may not be too much for a 16 year old car, although a Civic with 105k miles still has a more value and appeal than you might think. Carmax is a reputable company to deal with. They do not haggle on buying or selling cars which has its appeal to many people. They have dealerships in most US metro areas, so there should be one near you if you live in or near a major city. If not, you should be able to sell that car easily to someone who buys cars wholesale.

Best wishes.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:49 pm

patriciamgr2 wrote:a friend just sold his car through CarMax. you bring car in for an appraisal (takes about 1/2 hour); they give you bid good for 7 days. when you return with title, they issue you a bank draft. (no pickup or courtesy shuttle in our town). He got a good price, but less than he could get selling privately (not an option I'd consider unless I had a death wish).


Thank you. I have just found CarMax locations within 10 miles from me. And so it's doable.

patriciamgr2 wrote:I'd strongly suggest calling CarMax or any similar service & ask them the questions you posted. in general, a secondhand car dealer will get better pricing on repairs than you will get, so they may deduct less from the Kelley Blue Book value for repairs than you would have to pay. Getting an estimate of what your car is worth (i) as is and (ii) fixed, may help you decide. (I personally wouldn't pay more than 1/2 of current value of car for repairs).


I honestly don't expect anything for it. Any money I would pay for its repairs now would be the cost of driving it for several more months.

patriciamgr2 wrote:I wouldn't drive a car with a timing belt about to go even for a few months; that's a safety issue. If you're not the sort of person who inspects your car frequently, you might not have much warning of your belt shredding. "Just having your car stop" doesn't sound too bad on a side street in your neighborhood; more problematic on the freeway or at night in an area unfamiliar to you. I try to replace boots before/as they crack because otherwise all of the dirt, etc. gets in (I live in a sandy, hot area, however) & one is faced with a much more expensive axle repair down the road.


I have a pretty high tolerance for danger. I have been stranded in quite uncomfortable situations, and once I lost a wheel while driving on an interstate.

patriciamgr2 wrote:My main question:
Is the change in circ's in 6 mos or so really enough to change a car decision? You'll want something with good gas mileage no matter what. Buying a car at the end of a model year (providing that the models for next year don't represent a radical redesign) is often a cost-effective way to buy new.


I am dealing now with more important things and decisions. I really don't want to have another thing to think about. And the fact that I walk to work makes any investment in the car superfluous. I moved here so that I would not need to think about the car.

patriciamgr2 wrote:Good Luck from proud owner of a 13-year old Subaru.


Cheers,
Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:51 pm

123 wrote:If your present living arrangements preclude secure parking (if that's an issue in your neighborhood) but the January change includes secure parking then you're better off with a "disposable" car for now.

It's the other way around. My current living arrangements are as safe as it gets. When I move, it will be more urban and less safe.

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:00 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:Honda recommends changing the timing belt at 60,000 miles and then 120,000 miles - but if you are going to change the timing belt, you might as well change the water pump since they are in the same vicinity and it requires the same parts to be removed to gain access to it. My independent mechanic quoted me $360 - labor, timing belt and pump. It's the labor that costs the most with changing the belt, a new belt OEM costs about $35, the pump is more costly - the labor is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.


The recommendations may depend on the year and the model. For the 1997 Honda Civic DX, it's every 105,000 miles or every 7 years, whichever comes first. My planned "budget" for the timing belt is $500. If I could get the timing belt and the water pump for $600, I will pay for it.

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:I would not recommend driving a car whose axle is about to break - I've never been in a car where that has happened, but I can't imagine the law of physics makes for an enjoyable end to your driving.


If I stop posting, this may be the reason {gallows humor}.

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:That all said, if you maintain that car, it will last longer than you can imagine, usually the body will go before the mechanical pieces do.


I do maintain it! I never skip oil changes or other recommended repairs. But I may also be fortunate to come across several repairs at the same time to tip my decision towards winding down on this car.

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:I've had two independent mechanics tell me it's miles over time.


You mean that the low mileage of 105,000 supersedes the advanced age of 16.5? How does this apply to the low mileage since the last timing belt change (50,000 miles ago) vs. many years since the last timing belt change (10 years ago, which is larger than the recommended 7 years)?

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby allenneal99 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:02 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
nodenuff2 wrote:As my expected value of the car is $0, any repairs are exceeding its half. It is my only vehicle and getting alternative transportation is difficult, because using public transport here is very difficult. On the other hand, with my currently low mileage I can wait. I think.

Victoria



Your sixteen year old low mileage civic is worth more than you may think. That is a broke college students dream right there. I know several that could easily "find" $2000 for that thing.

Your repairs are the usual wear and tear and do not seem detrimental to the operation of the car...yet.

If cost is the issue, an option is to spread out the repairs over a few months/weeks. I used to do this when I drove really old cars and had very little money.

Just prioritize the issues and fix them.
1. Replace timing belt first.
2. Then replace left axle + cv boot next month.
3. Replace right axle + cv boot the following month. Or do both at the same time.

This way you won't feel as bad getting a big bill all at once. Of course, if you can get it all repaired for less than $1000 (I honestly think less than $600 total for your repairs) that is a fine job.

Ironically, my regular "scheduled maintenance" on my newish car can get very close to $1000 at either the dealership or independent shop -- and that's with nothing being broken.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:17 pm

allenneal99 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
nodenuff2 wrote:As my expected value of the car is $0, any repairs are exceeding its half. It is my only vehicle and getting alternative transportation is difficult, because using public transport here is very difficult. On the other hand, with my currently low mileage I can wait. I think.

Victoria



Your sixteen year old low mileage civic is worth more than you may think. That is a broke college students dream right there. I know several that could easily "find" $2000 for that thing.

Your repairs are the usual wear and tear and do not seem detrimental to the operation of the car...yet.

If cost is the issue, an option is to spread out the repairs over a few months/weeks. I used to do this when I drove really old cars and had very little money.

Just prioritize the issues and fix them.
1. Replace timing belt first.
2. Then replace left axle + cv boot next month.
3. Replace right axle + cv boot the following month. Or do both at the same time.

This way you won't feel as bad getting a big bill all at once. Of course, if you can get it all repaired for less than $1000 (I honestly think less than $600 total for your repairs) that is a fine job.

Ironically, my regular "scheduled maintenance" on my newish car can get very close to $1000 at either the dealership or independent shop -- and that's with nothing being broken.


Paying the bill is not a problem, it's more of an annoyance. Today, I used my furlough day to find out that I need expensive repairs. In a few weeks I will spend another furlough day to get and pay for these repairs. Then a few weeks after that, I will learn about some other problems. And so it goes.

On the other hand, may be I should just bite the bullet and keep the Civic? Or is it bite the Civic and keep the bullet?

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby HueyLD » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:20 pm

Victoria,

I have a suggestion for your consideration.

If you plan to buy a new car in 2014 anyway, you might want to drop the maintenance on your 16 YO Civic and rent a comparable car in the interim on an as needed basis. You can donate your old car to charity after the new car arrives.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:27 pm

HueyLD wrote:Victoria,

I have a suggestion for your consideration.

If you plan to buy a new car in 2014 anyway, you might want to drop the maintenance on your 16 YO Civic and rent a comparable car in the interim on an as needed basis. You can donate your old car to charity after the new car arrives.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.


HueyLD,

It's a great suggestion, but it would not work for me. Where I am now, there are no conveniently located car rentals, and the public transportation is awful. A couple years ago, I tested it by getting home from Dulles airport. It took six segments (including a 20-minute walk at the end) over 5.5 hours.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:36 pm

yosef wrote:Wait and see what the repairs will be, and then decide between options 1 and 2. Option 3 IMO is a bad idea because either of those components failing will strand you, and then you'll have to find something new in a hurry, which could cost you.


Thank you, Yosef. The question is whether the risk of getting stranded is higher than the risk of doing the repairs. If the risks are as follows:

    Risk of the repairs = $1,200 (cost of repairs) x 25% (probability of a mechanical failure after the repairs) = $400.

    Risk of getting stranded = $500 (cost of getting un-stranded) x 60% (probability of a mechanical failure without the repairs) = $300.

If my numbers are close, then I may as well plan on getting stranded. But of course, the devil is in the assumptions.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:41 pm

nodenuff2 wrote:Nice 3-4 year old car will last a long time especially as you must take excellent care of them. if you do or don't repair the old one you should disclose the true condition when you sell it.


I do take excellent care of my cars, but I don't trust and cannot verify that the previous owners do. Thus, my strong preference for buying new cars.

And when the time comes to part with my loyal Civic, I will tell the new owner about it, warts and all.

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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby sdaehelgob » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:43 pm

Do you have to replace the axles? You may be able to replace just the boots wihtout replacing the axles. If they cracked fairly recently, there may not be a lot of wear on the axles -- esp if there are no noises when you turn. I don't think I'd leave the right boot cracked -- as I understand it's a function of lubricant fluid leaking out.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby HueyLD » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:46 pm

Do you have any Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in your area? I think they will deliver rental car to your home and pick it up from your home.

If car rental doesn't work out, I suggest that you get the timing belt replaced because any break in timing belt could cause serious engine damage in addition to possible injury to the driver.

I am not clear if your car needs both CV boots and axel repairs. If the CV boots have been cracked for a while, the axels could be in bad shape and may need to be rebuilt or replaced. But you may be able to just replace the CV boots and defer the axel replacement. Or you can ask to have the axels rebuilt instead of replaced.

Ask your mechanic for price quote on various repair options and the pros and cons of each option.

Good luck and stay safe!
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby fsrph » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote: I need:
1. Timing belt
2. To change the left axle because the CV boot is cracked-open and leaking.
3. Optionally change the right axle because the right CV boot is cracked.

He showed to me the cracked CV boots and the leak.

Victoria


Victoria,
I would never drive a car where the axle is in danger of failing. I speak from experience. I was driving home from work one day and I heard a slight creaking under the front of the car. I didn't think anything of it as I was driving on snow covered roads. I came to a stop sign near home and everyting broke loose. The CV joint failed and the car fell upon and broke the left axle. The left side of the cars body was lying on the ground and had to be towed by a flatbed. The dealer said the CV joint failed because the boot was defective and allowed water to deteriorate the joint till it failed. If I was traveling at a normal to high rate of speed I could have easily been seriously injured or even killed. I can't tell you to buy a new or used car now just that I wouldn't drive your present one if it isn't repaired.

Francis
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 4:58 pm

sdaehelgob wrote:Do you have to replace the axles? You may be able to replace just the boots wihtout replacing the axles. If they cracked fairly recently, there may not be a lot of wear on the axles -- esp if there are no noises when you turn. I don't think I'd leave the right boot cracked -- as I understand it's a function of lubricant fluid leaking out.


The mechanic showed to me the cracked boots, but I am not sure that he was recommending to change the axles. I may have inferred it myself.

The lubricant is leaking on one side (the left side). On the right side, the rubber is cracked on the surface but not all the way through. I asked if we can use Krazy glue; he laughed.

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby likegarden » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:01 pm

We usually drive/drove Buicks for 11 years and 110,000 miles when more costly repairs come up which are not worth it to deal with. This just happened and we bought a new Toyota Camry. Why deal with stress due to upcoming failure of an old car when you can enjoy safety of a new car? What are you significantly gaining by driving a 16 year old car?
Selling the old car at Carmax seems to be a good solution. I sold our old car via Craigslist, had fixed an oil leak and provided new tires on the old car for $1,000 total, similar price as yours, which resulted in a safe and quick sale below KBB private sales price. I still got stressed out in that whole new/old car process. I think avoiding getting stressed out is also important to consider.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:07 pm

HueyLD wrote:Do you have any Enterprise Rent-A-Car location in your area? I think they will deliver rental car to your home and pick it up from your home.


I have not thought of that! I have just checked that there is an Enterprise location about 6-7 miles away from me. So it may work.

HueyLD wrote:If car rental doesn't work out, I suggest that you get the timing belt replaced because any break in timing belt could cause serious engine damage in addition to possible injury to the driver.


I will wait for the estimate. I think there is a consensus about the timing belt, and my natural inclinations are being overruled. Which is exactly why I am asking the Bogleheads {satisfied smile}.

HueyLD wrote:I am not clear if your car needs both CV boots and axel repairs. If the CV boots have been cracked for a while, the axels could be in bad shape and may need to be rebuilt or replaced. But you may be able to just replace the CV boots and defer the axel replacement. Or you can ask to have the axels rebuilt instead of replaced.

Ask your mechanic for price quote on various repair options and the pros and cons of each option.

Good luck and stay safe!


I have no idea for how long my left axle has been leaking. If I authorize the boot replacement, will the mechanic see if the axle has been affected?

Thank you again,

Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:13 pm

fsrph wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: I need:
1. Timing belt
2. To change the left axle because the CV boot is cracked-open and leaking.
3. Optionally change the right axle because the right CV boot is cracked.

He showed to me the cracked CV boots and the leak.

Victoria


Victoria,
I would never drive a car where the axle is in danger of failing. I speak from experience. I was driving home from work one day and I heard a slight creaking under the front of the car. I didn't think anything of it as I was driving on snow covered roads. I came to a stop sign near home and everyting broke loose. The CV joint failed and the car fell upon and broke the left axle. The left side of the cars body was lying on the ground and had to be towed by a flatbed. The dealer said the CV joint failed because the boot was defective and allowed water to deteriorate the joint till it failed. If I was traveling at a normal to high rate of speed I could have easily been seriously injured or even killed. I can't tell you to buy a new or used car now just that I wouldn't drive your present one if it isn't repaired.

Francis


Francis,

From your story, it appears that the creaking of a failing axle is not prolonged, and thus it can't be used as a reliable warning system. So here goes one of my theories. Start to think of it, my car has been creaking for several years now. Is it a sign that it has developed immunity to the cracked boots?

Victoria {using humor to deflect the reality}
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby HueyLD » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:19 pm

Yes, your mechanic should be able to tell you if the axels are in need of repair/replacement.

When I had the CV boots replaced on my old Honda Civic DX, the mechanic at the dealership said that the axels were still o.k. because the cracks in CV boots were relatively minor.
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:21 pm

likegarden wrote:We usually drive/drove Buicks for 11 years and 110,000 miles when more costly repairs come up which are not worth it to deal with. This just happened and we bought a new Toyota Camry. Why deal with stress due to upcoming failure of an old car when you can enjoy safety of a new car? What are you significantly gaining by driving a 16 year old car?
Selling the old car at Carmax seems to be a good solution. I sold our old car via Craigslist, had fixed an oil leak and provided new tires on the old car for $1,000 total, similar price as yours, which resulted in a safe and quick sale below KBB private sales price. I still got stressed out in that whole new/old car process. I think avoiding getting stressed out is also important to consider.


Stress avoidance is my highest priority now. I have a lot happening in other aspects of my life, and my preference is to delay the car-related stress until several other things get resolved by January. At that time I may, in fact, buy a new car.

Thanks,
Victoria
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Re: Expensive repairs on an old car. Opinions?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:22 pm

HueyLD wrote:Yes, your mechanic should be able to tell you if the axels are in need of repair/replacement.

When I had the CV boots replaced on my old Honda Civic DX, the mechanic at the dealership said that the axels were still o.k. because the cracks in CV boots were relatively minor.


Thank you!

Victoria
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