Should I fix my car before trading it in?
February 16, 2006 8:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm ready to trade in my 13-yr-old Civic, but it has a bunch of little problems. Hard starts, occasional (though rare) stalls, buzzy speakers, rust, a couple small dents, and some moron recently ran into my side mirror and broke it. Is it worth fixing any of these things in order to get a better trade-in value?
posted by booth to Shopping (14 answers total)
Off the cuff - no. I didn't research the value of '93 Civics, but I can't imagine it's worth significantly more in ok shape than in the beat-up shape it's in right now. You're probably lucky to get $300 for it from the dealer on trade-in.

With that in mind, why trade it in? Sell it yourself. You'll get $600-800 depending, and it's lots more than you'd get otherwise.
posted by unixrat at 8:14 PM on February 16, 2006

Probably not. Like unixrat said, you're better off selling it yourself.
posted by Meredith at 8:26 PM on February 16, 2006

Maybe a better question would be whether or not it's worth it for him to fix it up before selling it himself.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:31 PM on February 16, 2006

A 13-year-old Civic has essentially zero value to a dealer -- they're not going to resell it themselves. They'll take it as a trade-in for a nominal amount if that's what it takes to sell you a new one, and pawn it off to a low-end used car lot or auction house for pennies on the dollar.

Sell it yourself for the best value. You may want to see if the stalling thing can be easily fixed before you do so (fresh spark plugs?). On the cosmetic issues, you're not going to recoup that investment in paint or new speakers, so just clean the car as best you can and hope for the best.
posted by frogan at 8:56 PM on February 16, 2006

The side mirror might be worth fixing, if only because you can then sell the car as fit or certifiable or whatever the equivalent is where you live; a car that needs work before it can be registered as fit to drive will be a lot more inconvenient to a potential buyer than one whose speakers don't sound great on the drive to and from the DMV.
posted by mendel at 9:01 PM on February 16, 2006

If you're a charitable type and willing to deal with itemized deductions on your taxes, you could consider donating your car to charity rather than hassle with selling it yourself. Just be sure to do some research.
posted by junkbox at 6:04 AM on February 17, 2006

It is President's Day Weekend, if you're looking to buy right this second, you may come across one of those "We'll give you $1500 for whatever you bring in -- even if you have to tow it to the lot!" deals.

But to answer your question, not worth fixing it at this point. Too far gone, too many things wrong. You're better off dumping the money that you'd spend on fixing the car into the downpayment on the new car.
posted by jerseygirl at 6:43 AM on February 17, 2006

I wouldn't put in the effort if I were going to have a trade-in opportunity. Last time I bought a car at a dealer, they gave me a lot in trade-in, as opposed to reducing the sales price. I suspect it affected the salesperson's commission.
posted by theora55 at 7:16 AM on February 17, 2006

Fix it up and keep driving it! Hondas are great cars over the long haul. Save yourself the expense of a car payment and put it toward other goals.

Failing that, sell it to me. I am interested.
posted by toastchee at 7:32 AM on February 17, 2006

If it were me, I'd replace the mirror with one from a junk yard and then sell it. Trading it in isn't going to really get you much, and unless you have absolutely no time or desire to deal with people, your best bet is a private sale. You certainly shouldn't spend any money on repairs if you're going to try to trade it in.

The bodywork probably isn't worth doing in either case, though.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:08 AM on February 17, 2006

I'll second toastchee's suggestion! I'm rounding 195k on my 1992 accord. Vrrrroooom!!! I was looking for a site that breaks down the cost of repairing an older car vs buying a new car. There are several, but not the specific one I wanted. At any rate, look at the cost of repairs for a year, vs what you'll be paying for insurance + car payments. Of course if aesthetics are premium get a new ride; Oddly enough, it's difficult to find 1990-1995 honda parts at junkyards. I'm of the opinion that they haven't made it there yet. G/L!
posted by AllesKlar at 8:36 AM on February 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. I am determined to get a new car purely for vanity's sake. I'm approaching mid-life and this is a safe way to participate in the associated crisis.

I am now prepared to get little on trade for it. And thank you for the advice to sell it myself (toastchee, I'll send you an email). I'm giving that another consideration. I will look into the donation thing. I hadn't thought of that, and I think it's a great suggestion.

I will at least take it to Matta Motors, an independent local garage that specializes in Hondas, and see what they quote me for repairs.
posted by booth at 8:59 AM on February 17, 2006

I wouldn't get involved in selling that yourself. The used market is soft what with the huge number of people who have bought at discounted rates and interests. Additionally (and recognize that I myself am one of the people I'm talking about here, so no cries of elitism please) the caliber of people you'll have to deal with when selling a $900 car isn't the greatest. Those of us who buy (sorry) junkers are looking for the bargain basement deal and will haggle with you over every dime and scrutinize every flaw.

If you're gonna purchase your next car at a dealer just let them deal with this unless you're willing to take your payout in deduction for charitable donation.
posted by phearlez at 9:01 AM on February 17, 2006

My Honda has 240,000 miles and still going...I love that car! If you want to sell it, advertise at the local college, we students are poor and still need transportation.
posted by yodelingisfun at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2006

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