Keep the 93 Civic or the 2002 Aerio?
May 19, 2008 7:20 PM   Subscribe

1993 Honda Civic or 2002 Suzuki Aerio? I love my Honda, with 125K miles, and have taken very good care of it. The engine is great, but I'm at the point where it needs things that cost $500 to $1,000 a pop, plus the interior is really worn. My mom's Aerio, at 65,000 miles, is still under warranty. So I could drive it for a few years and not have to spend any money. I know the Honda is the better car, but does it make sense to keep it and sell the Aerio?

I'm still kicking myself for selling my '84 Toyota pickup nine years ago.
posted by skuchinskas to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
It sounds like you love this Honda, what I'd do is:

Sell the Aerio, use the money to upgrade the Honda. Honda parts are plentiful and cheap. If you're looking to have more fun with the car, their are many options, such has a new motor, suspension, and new clutch/shift linkages. A few thousand dollars will keep this a fun and reliable car for another 15 years.
posted by limited slip at 7:35 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, I just remembered. If you haven't already, buy the Haynes or equivalent manual for your Civic, it will walk you through every single repair you can think of, helping to keep costs down and fix problems while they are small and cheap.
posted by limited slip at 8:54 PM on May 19, 2008

I agree with limited slip. I would have a mechanic (or DIY) check for rust on the Civic's underbody and axels/suspension. That is, if you live in a snowy or wet area.

The car may run well, but rust can make a car unsafe, no matter how great the engine is.
posted by vkxmai at 9:08 PM on May 19, 2008

My mom's Aerio, at 65,000 miles, is still under warranty. So I could drive it for a few years and not have to spend any money.

Check the warranty. If it's a power-train warranty, you will still be on the hook for all the other things that go wrong with a car, and you'd end up screwed.

I'd sell the Aerio in a heartbeat. You'd pry a Honda Civic from my cold dead hands.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:20 PM on May 19, 2008

Third the "keep the Honda."

Unless you care about things like newness, these thousand dollar things are cheap in the long run. And a worn interior? Are you trying to impress a date?

If so, rent a car. The $35 you spend on that will be a lot cheaper than a different car!

I'm presuming, of course, that you kept up with scheduled maintenance and especially replaced the water pump and timing belt at the appropriate time. (The scheduled maintenance actually just calls for the timing belt to be replaced, but it's cheaper to just replace the water pump anyway, since it requires doing everything you do to remove the timing belt to get to the water pump) If you didn't, either have it done or get rid of the Civic.
posted by wierdo at 2:47 AM on May 20, 2008

Err, fourth. Whatever.
posted by wierdo at 2:47 AM on May 20, 2008

I disagree with sinking a lot of money into the Civic, especially in the form of major upgrades like motor swaps. It's not a good investment; the car does not increase in value much at all. In fact, many people prefer to stay away from heavily modified cars, because they tend to be mistreated and/or of questionable reliability.

I would keep the Civic in good repair and keep driving it, personally, because gas prices probably won't get any better than they are today.
posted by knave at 5:13 AM on May 20, 2008

I'll chime in with don't spend a lot on the Honda. In my area they are considered high theft targets because the parts are always in demand. Making it look better just makes it a more visible target. In a crash it also won't be as safe as the newer vehicle. Even most American built cars can go 100K miles without needing major repairs now (my 98 Chrysler did 120 K with no major repairs) so I'm sure a Suzuki with only 65K on it still has a lot of life left in it.

if the interior is really the only concern (and not the increasing repair costs, which frankly won't stop occurring as it gets older), buy seat covers and floor mats.
posted by inthe80s at 6:23 AM on May 20, 2008

Just as an alternative idea: Why not sell both and buy a newerish Honda or Toyota?
posted by SampleSize at 7:03 AM on May 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the good advice -- even if it's inconclusive! That's a good tip to check the terms of the warranty, CPB.

I think my big concern is trying to get a handle on how much the car might cost me to maintain in the next few years.

The engine is in excellent shape and I did have the water pump and timing chain replaced in 2005. There's no rust underneath or on the body. I also replaced the master cylinder, the battery and the radiator.

Re the interior, it's more than shabbiness: The seat covers are pristine, because I've always kept them covered. But the driver's seat is saggy and uncomfortable, the stereo is broken, and there's something funky going on with the electrical system: Sometimes the dashboard lights don't come on right away.

Well, maybe I've just answered my own question. Those things seem kind of minor, don't they?
posted by skuchinskas at 10:29 AM on May 20, 2008

I feel you...I have a '91 low-mileage Integra that has been relatively wonderful. My dad bought it new and handed it down to me about 6 years ago, and it was always well maintained, still gets good gas mileage, and is dead reliable. Except for those times when it's just...dead. Yes, in the past 3 years the age of the car has really begun to show. A lot of the medium-size repairs will need to be done when the parts just go bad (master brake cylinder, front axles--I've replaced these a few times, clutch if you have one) and each job will set you back several hundred dollars.

Also, something nobody has mentioned yet but which is really important is that, after 15 years, all the rubber and plastic parts of a car start to degrade. The seals keeping water out of your windshield collar may leak, causing water to pool in the footwells every time it rains. The spring in the inside door handle may get stretched, so that you have to roll down your window to open the door. That little rubber knob near your brake pedal could fall off, causing your brake lights to remain on until you tape some replacement thing in its place. The hydraulic fluid in the struts that hold up the hatch will lose their effectiveness, causing the trunk to slam down on your head as you load the groceries. Okay, so these things are my car's problems (a few of them) but you get the idea. Still--not having to make car payments has been awesome.

At some point though, you will have to decide when the repairs are no longer worth it. Think about it--if your car were totalled (someone else's fault), how much money would you get for it? The insurance payment would not be adjusted up just because you had put in new brakes, or axles or whatever. I got to the point a few months ago where I decided it was no longer worth it to put any money into the car except for gas and oil changes, and I'm okay with that. I'm planning to get a new car but am putting it off as long as I can.

Anyway my advice would be this: sell your mom's car and put the money away. Run your car into the ground! Make the necessary repairs as they fit into your budget. If it ever gets to be too much, sell it for what you can. Use that money plus the money from the Suzuki plus whatever else you saved to buy a newer car.

Sorry for the long-winded answer but I have been thinking about this a lot lately =)
posted by Jemstar at 12:18 PM on May 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Sell them both, and buy a newer Civic for cash.
posted by dblslash at 6:23 PM on May 20, 2008

Response by poster: Jemstar, I think you hit on something that hadn't quite surfaced for me -- the general wearing down/out of all the little things that make a car comfortable and usable. So far, it's just the stereo, the door locks and something in the electrical system.

BTW, all who made the logical suggestion to sell both and buy a newer car, I need to sell one to pay for the used pickup we just bought so we won't beat the crap out of whatever little gas-friendly car we end up with. I also am rather perversely proud of driving a 15-year-old car.

All your answers were informative, considered and helpful. I can't pick a best answer, but thank you all.
posted by skuchinskas at 9:45 AM on May 21, 2008

What's weird is, the dashboard lights in my 1993 Honda Civic have gone all wonky, too. Coincidence, perhaps, considering that they are both 15 year old cars, but I'm sticking with my Civic for the time being. I'm curious to see just how long I can keep it running, and I've been good to it over the years (I bought it used, though, so who knows what it went through with the previous owner).

Keep the Civic, unless you feel it is unsafe.
posted by malaprohibita at 3:11 PM on May 21, 2008

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