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1984 Ford Tempo needs 07757 area body shop

Can anyone anywhere near the 07757 zip code (Monmouth/Ocean County, New Jersey) area recommend an auto body repair shop that would work on a 1984 Ford Tempo? My 80+ year old mother needs a new headliner installed and water leaks found and repaired. She has considered getting a brand new car, but with age and health concerns, fixing up the old one seems to make more sense. (Her 25-year-old car is in better shape than she is.)One local body shop looked into the leak issue years ago, or claimed to, anyway…don’t think they tried very hard. I live a few hours away from her, so I’m not able to drive it to local places to see if anybody would have the patience to work on an old car for an old lady.

Leaks are not always easy to locate or fix. They also can be quite expensive as they are time consuming and maddening for owner and mechanic. Basically the shops are likely conscious of this and don’t want to exceed the value of the vehicle in repairs(car is worth about $500) and take advantage of her.

I wouldn’t bother with a new headliner. The labor to install one will be high, since it’s a time-consuming job. You can use upholstery screws to hold up the sagging headliner. They look a bit odd at first, but they work quite well and cost next to nothing.

Water leaks are also time-consuming to locate and repair. There are so many possible sources. Where does the water collect?

I’d assume any body shop would be willing to work on the car, but I don’t think the return on investment is going to be very good. Your mom could easily spend several times what the car is worth chasing leaks and never find them all.

Instead of a brand new car, perhaps your mother could find a nice used car and save a bundle of money. A nice, late-model Toyota Corolla, perhaps?

Reattaching the headliner with upholstery screws won’t work, since the foam underneath the liner is disintegrating. Any glue you would reecommend if we get stuck trying to stick it back up ourselves??
The leaks mainly show up on the floor by the driver’s seat and in the right side of the trunk (where my mom keeps swapping out bundles of newspaper to soak it up). Her car smells from mildew, so this asthmatic daughter can’t even sit in it anymore!
My mom had a heart attack recently, and realizes that her driving days could be over sooner than later. She’s always been very independent, and we did start new car shopping before her heart attack happened. The idea of shopping for a new or “used-new-to-her” car and getting used to driving it seems right now to be more stressful than getting the old one to be a bit less of a problem-the car still runs well. Thanks for any advice. (Telling her to give up driving and call a taxi won’t fly right now…)

Walmart has a 3M headliner spray adhesive that may be what you are looking for. Based on what you’ve said, I would think that the least painful approach is to purchase a good used car for the next year or two and sell it when needed. Treating mildew, finding the leaks, fixing the headliner all seem to be more stressful and time-consuming than getting a good five year old used car, which can be sold later so long as it is properly maintained.

The Tempo has served you well for 25 years; perhaps it is time to divest from this one.

I see your problem. Your mother is used to the car and she may not want to get used to something different. If the undercarriage is rusted out, that may cause the water to be getting into the car. If this is the case, then the car needs to go. However, if the undercarriage is sound, an independent body shop may be willing to see what can be done about the water leaks. I don’t live in the area, but it may be worth visiting a body shop to see what they think.