99 Problems and a Car is One
November 30, 2010 7:24 PM Subscribe
Should I repair my damaged car for significantly more than its original cost, or buy a new cheap used vehicle?
posted by ajarbaday to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total)
I have a 95 Ford Contour with around 165k miles that I bought for $800 last year from a friend. The car runs fine, except for an occasional electrical problem that has caused the car to stall out twice. Both mechanics recommended I take the car into the dealership to fix what they suspected was a wiring problem, but I avoided doing this because of the high costs associated with a dealership. Besides this, I haven’t had problems with the car.
Two weeks ago, I rear ended a truck that stopped suddenly to avoid hitting a car that cut them off their lane. They had a small scratch, while my car was significantly damaged. Both air bags went off, the hood crumpled, the front left light and frame for light was broken, and the windshield cracked in multiple places. That was just the damage that I could see. I don’t have collision insurance, so while I won’t have to pay for damages to the other car I won’t get any help with the repair of my vehicle, either.
So, I took the car into a mechanic specializing in body work that a friend recommended. His assessment was that it would cost at least 1k to fix the car, using parts salvaged from a salvage yard and not including the cost of replacing the airbags. However, this estimate does not include the possible damage to the radiator, which he hasn’t yet taken a look at, since he would charge me to open up the car and take a closer look.
Should I cut my losses on my old car and buy a cheap car to take me from point A to point B? Or should I attempt to repair my old car, despite the fact that the estimate may cost up to double or more of my original buying price? My spending money for this situation is quite low.
As a corollary, would it feasible to buy used parts myself and do the repairs on my car, or would the difficulties of replacing a hood and installing a new light frame be outside of the expertise of someone with basic tools? In addition, does an impact like this cause other damages that might not be immediately seen that could affect the car’s performance in the future?
If I didn’t have this car fixed, I’d be looking to buy another cheap car in the 1 – 2k range, which could potentially come with lots of other defects. And I’m not sure how much money I could get selling my car for parts, either – I’ve sold a non-working car for $200 in the past, which I guess it what I’d expect in this situation.