Join 3,496 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

$2200 to fix my car?
April 5, 2011 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Is it crazy to spend $2200 to fix my car? Then replace the car in a year or two…

I have a 2003 Honda CR-V with 140K miles on it. It needs $2200 worth of work, and I can’t figure out if that’s worth it. Help me get some clarity?

- Otherwise runs fine, and I assume this will be the only major repair
- Is worth maybe $5-6K bluebook (assuming the repair is made I think)
- Will buy a new car in a year or two
- Could/would pay cash for a used/replacement car, roughly $18-20K
- Insurance/registration on the replacement car would be maybe an extra $400/year

Why don’t I just buy a new car?
- Don’t feel like I need one
- I’m waiting because I’m cheap and scared (but don’t want to be pennywise/pound-foolish)
- I’m concerned about used cars being a little more expensive (in general, relative to new ones) these days due to economic conditions and incentives. Assuming things would normalize in a year or 2
- Tires are pretty new, in good shape

Details: yes, it’s the A/C compressor and I need it unfortunately. So I could sell or trade it in as-is, but I’m not comfortable selling it on craigslist or similar without disclosing the problem (it’s not a cheap fix).

Or… heck, maybe I offer to sell it for 3K to somebody who doesn’t need A/C… and they’ve got themselves a fair deal and I have a quick/easy sale and move on.

Thank you
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
$2,200 for an A/C compressor? If they're not doing something else, I'd be getting several second opinions...

If the AC isn't working, you'll get crappy resale if you tried to sell it now. If you pay to get it working, you really need to keep it over a year to get value from it.

However, if it doesn't need an engine or a transmission, $2.2K is stupidly expensive. Is that a dealer quote? Have you tried independent specialists?
posted by Brockles at 6:06 PM on April 5, 2011


Yeah, $2200 seems like about 5x what the job should cost.

Even if it did need $2200 worth of work, you are probably still better off fixing it. Because replacing the car would be more expensive.
posted by gjc at 6:09 PM on April 5, 2011


I'd probably replace it if it were my car and if I knew that other than the A/C it was in good condition and not needing some other astoundingly expensive work. (In my experience, all cars are astoundingly expensive to have work done.)

Just for reference: The replacement compressor is about $450 for the OEM version and about $325 for an aftermarket version. With replacement lines—and the other bits that are usually recommended to be replaced at the same time— the parts runs under $600. The bug-a-boo is the labor. On the CRV the compressor is in a tough spot and your quote at $2200 is actually about $800 to $1200 less than many Honda dealers are asking to do the job. You may be able to find a competent non-dealer mechanic to get it all done for under, say, $1500.
posted by bz at 6:35 PM on April 5, 2011


Oh, and many people report A/C compressor failures in the CRVs of that era.
posted by bz at 6:36 PM on April 5, 2011


Generally, AC compressors are *not* cheap to replace, regardless the vehicle make. $1200 - $1500 is a good figure, but $2200 seems exorbitant, unless there are some other things being done at the same time.
posted by tgrundke at 6:46 PM on April 5, 2011


On the CRV the compressor is in a tough spot and your quote at $2200 is actually about $800 to $1200 less than many Honda dealers are asking to do the job.

It can't be in *that* tough of a spot, they had to get it in there in the first place. You could replace the whole engine for that kind of money.

I'm not disagreeing that they are charging that amount, just that it is necessary.
posted by gjc at 6:49 PM on April 5, 2011


That seems steep for the AC compressor. We own a 99 CRV with 190k+ miles on it and we just put ~$600 into it for timing belt/water pump, other belts & hoses, tune up, valve adjustment and some work on the power locks. We felt it was well worth it since the car has been extremely reliable otherwise and it should go many more miles before we'll be done with it.
posted by pappy at 6:58 PM on April 5, 2011


It can't be in *that* tough of a spot, they had to get it in there in the first place.

Well, when they put it in, the engine wasn't in the car. It's the bits of chassis and bodyworkmthat make the access expensive. However, if the parts roll in at $600, then I'm a flying kipper with pointy shoes if the labour to get in there is really worth $1600... At high level shop rates that is over 17 hours of labour. Hell, I could change the engine, transmission and valet it in that time. And sit down to watch a film.
posted by Brockles at 7:04 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


So here's how I rationalize car repairs:
If the total annual repair cost is greater than the total annual payment payments + insurance differential of a new car, then the repair is worth it. I currently drive a twelve year old Subaru with 188K miles on it. I am shooting for 4 more years out of it. When I dump the car, I want $50 for it.

Give Car Talk a call this weekend... Also peruse the site for some recommendations for a local mechanic.
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2011


If you're not in a hurry to get this done, you might be able to get a bit of a break on the price by chasing down a reconditioned compressor and/or finding an independent mechanic who's willing to cut you a bit of a deal in exchange for waiting around until he doesn't have a lot of other jobs lined up (this may be easier if you know a mechanic, and it may be difficult or impossible--my buddy who works on cars has more work these days than he can handle).
posted by box at 7:30 PM on April 5, 2011


Anecdotal, but as to your last point... I'd totally buy a car with no a/c if it was going for 2k less than I'd pay otherwise.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:44 PM on April 5, 2011


Equally anecdotal, but I would be very reluctant to buy a car with broken a/c (granted, it gets hot where I live), because it would make me worry about other maintenance and repairs that might have been put off or left undone.
posted by box at 7:54 PM on April 5, 2011


Air conditioner repairs are the worst, because they're ridiculously expensive. Given that, despite you not feeling like you need a new car, signs are pointing you in that direction.

Putting 33% of a vehicle's value into a repair doesn't seem worth it, and the CR-V, being an SUV, is going to depreciate in value exponentially as the price of gas goes up this summer (even though I know they get better mileage than full-size SUVs, but that's just how the game works).

Honda specifically is running some amazing financing and leasing deals right now (I just leased a new vehicle there myself). And they're likely to give you the largest amount for trade-in on the CR-V, since the repair will cost them next to nothing in parts, and just a little bit in labor. $2200 is almost one full year's worth of payments on a new car.
posted by erstwhile at 8:07 PM on April 5, 2011


Before you buy another car, please post an askme from the dealership so we can help you avoid getting stuck with a 485 dollar per month car payment.

Find another mechanic. Find used parts.
posted by roboton666 at 10:34 PM on April 5, 2011


I wouldn't buy a car w/o a/c because the defroster/defogger makes use of the air drying capacity of the a/c system to work effectively.
posted by bz at 10:53 PM on April 5, 2011


Dunno how much you've Googled around, but there are shedloads of people who've had these problems with their CRVs. Some people relate that Honda replaced the part for free, etc. I didn't wade too far into it, but it looks like there are some thoughts about how long it takes to do the job.

(That aside, dunno where you are, but I've had pretty good luck with finding mechanics via Yelp.)
posted by ambient2 at 11:20 PM on April 5, 2011


Definitely fix it. Though, I'd also look for a different quote on the compressor, just to make sure the dealer isn't gouging you too much.

We're "drive it til it drops" people. Our '01 Maxima has 375,000 miles on it and it's still going strong. We had to put a new steering rack in it last year, but that's still cheaper than car payments.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:02 AM on April 6, 2011


Putting 33% of a vehicle's value into a repair doesn't seem worth it, and the CR-V, being an SUV, is going to depreciate in value exponentially as the price of gas goes up this summer (even though I know they get better mileage than full-size SUVs, but that's just how the game works).

A car is not an asset, it is an expense. It is a thing that gets used up. Its value is in how cheaply it gets you from point a to point b. Buying a new car always makes it more expensive to get from point a to point b.
posted by gjc at 5:22 AM on April 6, 2011


$2200 is almost one full year's worth of payments on a new car.

Maybe lease payments, but probably not payments to a purchase loan. Less than $200 a month?
posted by getawaysticks at 5:56 AM on April 6, 2011


From the OP:
Thanks for the input so far. My question is not if the price is right -- it's whether or not it can make sense financially. Yes, $2200 is a lot and it sucks, but it's the price (at the dealer, after Honda corporate pitches in saying "sorry for the crappy design," and it's a little less than my independent guy).

I've done research on this compressor problem and am going to get it fixed at the dealer if I get it done at all. The person on Yelp may cost less, but these compressors have a nasty reputation and I want new parts and somebody who'll warranty the work (at least for a little while).
posted by jessamyn at 8:32 AM on April 6, 2011


Give Car Talk a call this weekend...

Not that this was realistic advice in the first place, but Car Talk prerecords their show from calls that they screen during the week. They call the most interesting folks back during their tapings on Wednesdays, and then select the most interesting of those to finally air on the weekend. They get ~2,000 calls a week.
posted by schmod at 7:22 PM on April 6, 2011


« Older Help me help my 6yr old with m...   |  Erotic-story-filter: looking f... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.