My '03 Hyundai Accent has serious mechanical issues. I'm working poor. Would it be wiser to see if it's worth it to shell out for repairs or immediately pass her on and do without a car until I can get a replacement (that might not be much better)?
posted by batmonkey to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
(Summary & questions at end of details)
• '03 Hyundai Accent, automatic, GL (base 4-dr sedan).
• Currently runs, but it's a risk every single outing. My sole vehicle, and the only reliable transportation within my social and familial circles.
• As is common with this model/vintage, it has a transmission issue that started showing itself last November - a big shudder, a couple of thuds, a knock, and then it behaves as if it is stuck in 2nd gear, losing power on inclines. Stopping and restarting generally "reset" it, but I did take it into a reputable, honest repair shop I'd used before; recommendation: transmission flush to start, but might need transmission replaced.
- They also recommended a coolant flush.
- In addition, they confirmed a suspected oil leak, but they didn't know where it was coming from - it needs to have the more in-depth dye & drive test to find out exactly where it is. It seems to leak a quart+ over ~4wks.
- The passenger-side CV axle needs to be replaced.
- Rear driver-side brake needs work (either adjustment or components replacement - it was reassembled prior to me with a non-standard part (not remembering right this second - plate, maybe?); same repair shop found it when doing full brake job and let me know that until the full brake mechanism on that wheel is replaced, maintenance work can't be warrantied).
- Timing chain is overdue for replacement (also, anything else that needed to happen at 100kmi).
• Worst: it is now starting to overheat. I have to keep the heater on full blast (a pleasure during summer in TX, I assure you) to lengthen the distance it will go before the needle hits the red. It hasn't overheated to a stall yet, but only because I'm nursing it along. It will happen, I know it, and it might be the last gasp rather than a stall. When it gets in the red, I pull over to the nearest safe spot and wait at least 15min before starting off again.
• Complication: state inspection expired last month (end of June).
• Full, hands-on diagnostics to get a firm idea if it's salvageable for another year or so of driving would be ~$350. Total repair bill is likely to be between $1,200 and $2k.
• FWIW, has new-ish tires and windshield wipers :/
• Purchased secondhand from a seemingly trustworthy but ultimately shady used car lot in '09, she has a regular title but was likely a storm salvage that had also been in a serious accident, and many issues were discovered only during things like major brake repairs.
• Broke. I have a regular job that pays just over the bare necessities. I have about $500 at the end of the month after rent, utilities, car insurance & fuel, and vital household/personal items.
• Complication: I'm supposed to be getting childcare with that, as my co-parent is increasingly unwell and caring for a toddler is steadily eroding his already-diminished coping abilities. Without childcare (him or someone/where else), I can't work. I'm in the process of determining eligibility for childcare aid from a state agency, but it doesn't look good because I make just over their guideline. Without a car, getting her to childcare becomes a much, much bigger deal. I mention this complex mess because it's part of why urgency and financial intelligence have to be held in equal measure in this decision.
• Worst: due to past illness (better now) and previous long-term unemployment, I now have verifiably poor credit. Loans to resolve any of this are out of the question. I do not have friends or family to resort to for help.
• If I sell the car, it will likely only be $800 max, as this is what I've seen similar vehicles with similar issues get. If the diagnostic option was selected, part of that hole in the budget will be covered, and the rest will go to bus pass and the replacement vehicle fund.
• My commute is ~15mi each way. I can't move closer to work until end of October. Closer to work = higher rent & less walkable/busable area.
• Mobility impaired, but I can ride the bus for a while (2-3mos) to save up for whatever option is wiser (repairs or eventual replacement).
• Toddler is already banned from the car, so we're already having to work around that.
• I'm in Austin, TX.
• I am seeking more gainful employment, but it took over 2yrs to get another full-time job after my last lay-off, so I'm not going to rely on that.
(Summary) I have two options:
• I can get a full diagnosis (~$350) to see if the car is worth repairing ($1,200-$2k) for another year or so of driving...
• ...I can sell the car without ever knowing and start saving for the eventual replacement, which will cost at least as much as the full repairs, likely have its own mechanical issues, and could potentially come with punishing (perhaps rightfully so) interest rate & terms if I need to finance (if financed, will also require comprehensive insurance coverage).
Does it make more sense to get the diagnostic done (investing in the major repairs if it'll last at least another year +, selling if not), OR cut losses and sell the car without ever knowing?
I have to decide by Sunday night.