Getting rid of a dead car from far away.
November 6, 2008 7:14 PM   Subscribe

My car died far from home. What's the best way to get rid of it?

Relevant points:
I already have another car, so I definitely want to get rid of the old car.

The old car is in Waynesboro, VA.

My home is very close to Washington, D.C.

It's a long trip.

The car is a 2000 Honda Accord V6 2-door, 115,000 miles, the extra-fancy edition, with a some visible but non-obvious damage on the rear bumper area.

The engine has very low compression in two cylinders, for which the recommended repair is to replace the engine, which is projected to cost $3,500 to $4,000.

I put $750+ in new Michelins on the car a month before it died.

The mechanic made an offer to buy it as is for $500.
I want to be rid of it quickly but I also need to make sound money decisions, so what should I do?
posted by NortonDC to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, the faster you want to get rid of it, the less money you make. You can be done now for $500, or if you spend a month advertising it and showing it, you can get more. Decide how much time/effort you want to spend on it, spend that much time advertising it, etc., and then take the best offer you've got so far.
posted by winston at 7:23 PM on November 6, 2008

I would at the very least take it to a second mechanic to get an opinion on the repairs.

The Blue Book value of a Honda Accord like yours is around $8,000 (from Less the $4,000 in repair cost for the engine and maybe $500 for the bumper means that the mechanic is going to be making a pretty nice profit. I'd say it's definitely worth it to get it towed and fixed, even if you just sell it after that.
posted by jefeweiss at 7:23 PM on November 6, 2008

Response by poster: Everything I read says that new and used car prices are crashing due to lack of financing and demand, so I don't know how much faith to put in the book values.

And Waynesboro is not a hot market for Hondas. There is one (empty) dealership in the whole region.
posted by NortonDC at 7:28 PM on November 6, 2008

If you can't find a buyer, you could donate it to charity and at least get a tax deduction.
posted by i_love_squirrels at 7:30 PM on November 6, 2008

do you have friends or relatives there?

if so, have them take picts and list it on ebay. let the winning bidder pick it up there, send your friend/relative a couple bucks for helping once it sells
posted by Mr_Chips at 7:33 PM on November 6, 2008

winston speaks wisely--as with almost everything in this world, the amount of money you'll make is pretty closely proportionate to the amount of time and hassle you want to put into it.

But jefeweiss makes a good point too--make no mistake, selling it to the mechanic for $500 is about as far to one end of the money/hassle continuum as it's possible to go. Even a little bit more effort (like, say, pointing out the blue-book value and trying to haggle with the mechanic a little) might produce significant rewards.
posted by box at 7:34 PM on November 6, 2008

Bummer. This happened to me once. I talked to some local dealers. No one wanted to buy it, but they put me in touch with the local auction company, who gave me a pittance for it. It's possible $500 is good offer, sorry to say.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:13 PM on November 6, 2008

Very low compression in two cylinders? I would not jump to the conclusion that the engine needed replacing.

Most likely problem is a blown head gasket. If it's worn out between two cylinders, both of them will have very low compression because they've essentially been turned into one big one. There are other symptoms that would confirm this; usually loss of coolant, and/or oil in the coolant (makes it turn milky white). If the two with low compression are next to each other, this would be a strong candidate. Normally this would cost in the $800-$1200 range to repair, and it's not unheard of after that many miles. A new one would last you a long, long time.

Another possibility is that you've somehow chipped or bent two valves. The odds of that happening are pretty low, but they can be replaced. Again, probably a $1200 repair.

Finally, replacing the engine could cost you a hell of a lot less than $3500. In Japan, emissions standards are incredibly strict, such that engine replacement before 100k miles is fairly common. As a result, there's a surplus of used Japanese motors that are perfectly usable in the US. Companies import them by the containerload and sell them here. They usually come with a one year warranty, a mileage guarantee, and are compression and leakdown tested before sale. I just found one for your car at a west coast importer I have used, for $550. $3000 in labor to install an engine seems a bit much, yes? When I had to replace the engine in my Acura, I bought a used Japanese one and had it replaced by a shop that deals mostly with engines and "performance" stuff. The engine cost me $1200, the shop charged me $700 and did the work in 24 hours. I then sold the old engine for $900 to someone who wanted to repair it and build it up into a racing motor.

This has gotten long, I apologize. Basically, I hate to see people scrap their cars, especially reliable Japanese ones, because of problems that seem fatal but really aren't. The mechanic is offering you a pittance, he will replace the motor (or maybe even repair this one - I'm suspicious of his diagnosis, given what he stands to gain if you unload it on him) for a cost similar to what I've outlined above, and then sell it for $5000. If it's not worth any hassle to you, let him have it. In non-running condition, yeah, it's worth very little. But if you're trying to make sound money decisions, it makes more sense for you to make a short term investment in repairing it cheaply, and then sell it for something closer to what it's worth.
posted by autojack at 8:41 PM on November 6, 2008 [4 favorites]

I've done a little research. I may have been incorrect about the engine your car has - it sounds like the V6's had 3 liter 200 HP VTEC motors, so that would cost more than $550.

Noyan USA is one engine importer in your area that a few people recommended. They're in Chantilly, VA.

There's also JEI in Sterling, and Makota Engines in Chesapeake. You'd have to call them to get a definite quote, but it's a place to start. The first two could probably also refer you to someone to do the replacement.
posted by autojack at 8:59 PM on November 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: The mechanic diagnosed the compression issue and then begged off, urging me to take it to the one local dealer because they don't regularly work on Hondas. The dealer, based on the information I relayed from the mechanic, said that it sounded like it would take a new engine to fix it. I called my long-time mechanic, who is intimately familiar with the car and discussed it with them for 10 minutes or so, and they said a rebuild or new engine were two options, and it didn't surprise them that "out there" they'd lean toward dropping a new engine in rather than dealing with a rebuild.

I had to be really persistent, over a couple of weeks, to get the mechanic to come up with an "as is" number, and they pushed to have the car leave them, so I do not believe that they are trying to set me up.

Thanks for research, autojack.
posted by NortonDC at 9:00 PM on November 6, 2008

The Kelly Blue book has a value for of $5000-6000 for a running car with that mileage, sold to a private party. I don't know if the KBB is accurate considering the economy these days. Trade in value is given as $3500-4700.

If you don't sell the car to the mechanic, will you be left with a bill from them?
posted by exogenous at 6:13 AM on November 7, 2008

To clarify my last comment, I wonder if the price offered by the mechanic includes a waiver of what otherwise would be a bill.
posted by exogenous at 6:37 AM on November 7, 2008

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