Car advice, please.
June 13, 2008 8:46 PM   Subscribe

How important is that I get these repairs done to my 2001 Honda Civic now, or can I wait a bit longer?

I know nothing at all about cars, and I am just repeating what I was told I need.

I have a 2001 Honda Civic that is in need of trailing arm bushings and front struts. I was told this in March, and I have not yet been able to raise the money to get the repairs. I don't notice any problems with my car, but these may not be things that I could detect.

I plan on going on an 800 mile trip next week. Is my car capable of making this trip, or is it too dangerous to do so? How badly am I hurting my car by not making the repairs?
posted by Four-Eyed Girl to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
As long as there is no clunking going on you should be ok. your car won't handle or ride as well as it should, but not enough to be a big safety issue. If clunks do start to develop(trailing arm bushings completely giving up) you should get those replaced asap, wherever you happen to be.

to check your struts, you (or one of your larger friends) should grab the top of one of the front tires and pull as hard as you can. if theres any slop or clunking noises, you should get them replaced before your trip.
posted by TheJoven at 9:04 PM on June 13, 2008

Personally, I wouldn't do it. Look at it this way--is it worth the possibility of being stuck on the side of the road, waiting for help? Only you can answer that, but I'd try to find another way if at all possible.

And although I don't claim to be a car expert, that doesn't sound like something I'd want failing at 70 mph on the highway.
posted by DMan at 9:05 PM on June 13, 2008

It seems very strange to me that a 2001 Honda Civic would need these repairs at this point in its lifespan, unless you have very high mileage on the car (e.g. well over 100K). Regardless of what decision you make, I would recommend getting a second opinion.

Agreed with TheJoven that unless there's no clunking or obvious loosening, that you can get away with this for quite some time.

How badly am I hurting my car by not making the repairs?

If these repairs are really necessary, you wearing out other parts associated with the suspension and tires in an unusual manner. You'll notice looseness in turning and going over bumps, and your tires might wear unevenly. Go long enough, and you may incur other damage to other parts as they wear down when they shouldn't.

That said, this isn't one of those kinds of things that will explode the car or anything.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:45 PM on June 13, 2008

Cool papa bell is right- those things won't make the car worse. But not fixing them will possibly create other maintenance issues later. The tires won't last as long, other suspension pieces might be subjected to increased stresses, the car might not handle right, etc.
posted by gjc at 9:26 AM on June 14, 2008

I've made some fairly long trips in cars with suspension issues. I doubt you are going to have the car fall apart out in the middle of nowhere. But it won't handle as well as it is capable of; for example, suppose you come across a tight curve that catches you unaware, and it doesn't respond as fast as it would be capable of with sound suspension...

It is actually not that unlikely that a car of this age might need some suspension work. Under normal use, the struts may indeed be wearing out. The car is 7+ years old, and if you assume 15,000 miles per year, that's over 100,000 miles. If the car is being driven on less than ideal roads, this can accelerate suspension wear. I would get a quote from another shop, however, because strut replacement is a fairly common "sell" repair, and you want to make sure they are actually going bad before you fork over the dough.
posted by azpenguin at 10:21 AM on June 14, 2008

Response by poster: I'm going to take everyone's advice and get my car looked at by another mechanic given that my car hasn't even reached 50,000 miles yet. If there is anything wrong, I will go ahead and get everything fixed before my trip. I'd rather not cause any additional problems because of my neglect.

Thanks for the great advice!
posted by Four-Eyed Girl at 2:45 PM on June 14, 2008

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