I have a 2004 Hyundai Sonata LX that I bought about two years ago for $4000. I live in Massachusetts and the car has a bit of rust on it (okay quite a bit of it) but I’ve been pretty happy with it otherwise. Recently, my car was hit by a hit and run driver while the car was parked outside my house. Luckily, the neighbors got the person’s license plate number and so I’m in the process of filing a claim under her insurance. The adjuster came out and looked at my car and estimated the repairs to total $1500, but he did note that there was rust on the car, and I imagine the insurance company might try to give me a bit less for that reason. The part of the car that is damaged is the rear bumper and quarter panel (that panel is completely rust free-- The rust is all on the bottom and a few spots around the sunroof that I’ve tried to cover up but have only managed to slow down the spread…)
As I said, I’ve liked the car so far, but it does seem that there are some problems developing. It’s about time for new brakes; there are some suspension issues developing (front and rear driver’s side are both quite noisy all of the sudden-- the front passenger side especially just started squeaking pretty much every little bump or turn in the road), and of course there is the rust. Given that the car is now 11 years old, has 165k miles on it, and has a rust problem that is only going to get worse, I feel like it may be time to jump ship. Putting the $1500 into the car for body repairs seems dumb given that it is about half of the value of the car in good condition. I really want to make the most of my investment in this car however before moving onto another car. What do you recommend? As far as I see it, I have the following options:
Fix brakes and whatever is absolutely necessary for the suspension to get me through the winter. Buy a used car for $5-7k outright or put a substantial down payment on a newer used car and finance the rest. Sell current car for whatever amount I can get or use as leverage for a trade-in.
Abandon ship immediately. Don’t put another penny into this car. Buy used car / try to sell damaged car for whatever I can as in #1
Put money into maintaining the Sonata. Potentially even fix body damage.