How do you know the point at which your car becomes a money pit?
August 27, 2012 12:05 PM Subscribe
At what point with my current used car (2001 Honda Accord) is it financially smarter to try to sell it and find a new used car than to keep putting money into repairs? How do previous and future repairs, age, mileage, brand, location, and the current economy affect this decision? Somewhat detailed history of the car inside.
posted by vegartanipla to travel & transportation (27 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I have a 2001 Honda Accord sedan. I bought it a little over two years ago in New York and drove it down to where it now resides in Louisiana. When I bought it, it had about 99,000 miles on it. It now has almost 110,000 miles. I've listed repairs below, but I do want to say on behalf of my car that it has never stopped working/stranded me anywhere and instead waits patiently for me or my mechanic to notice something is off.
Things that were repaired shortly before I got it:
New timing belts and water pump.
Things I've repaired:
Last summer, I put about $1300 into it to fix the evap system, repair a leaky brake line, and get new tires. (The evap system was faulty when I bought it but had to be fixed to pass state inspection. I kind of consider that $600 portion to be part of the intro cost of the car.) A few days ago, I put another $900 into it to fix three wheel bearings, get a new battery, replace all four break pads, replace the front two rotors, and resurface the back two rotors.
Known things to repair in the future:
I am told that at some point in the not-urgent future the fourth wheel bearing will need to be replaced and the rear spindles are really rusted and will also need to be replaced.
My mechanic, who I trust, said this is the most work he's done to a Honda in a really long time but he thinks I should be pretty much good for a while. I certainly hope so. I'm just wondering:
If another repair comes up, or when the known future repair stuff comes up, or [fill in the blank], at what point does it make more financial sense to buy a new used car than to keep going with this one? Also, I'm hindsight curious - was that point in fact earlier this week, or was I right to put the $900 into it?
I'm not sure how accurate online sales estimates are, but according to one of those sites my car is currently worth about $4,100 in a private sale and would cost about $5,300 from a dealer. This is the first car I have owned (though I've driven cars owned by my parents) and I realized this week that I don't really know how these calculations play out.