95 Civic - Fix it or sell as is?

I have a 1995 Honda Civic LX with 106K miles in very good condition, never had a problem with it. I now use public transportation to commute to work and hardly ever use the car so I’m looking to sell it. This morning the mechanic told me it needs new front brake pads, a new radiator, a new oil pan gasket, a tune up, and a new timing belt at 120K. All of this work will restore it tip-top shape. I’m interested to hear what I should have fixed before I sell the car. Thanks!

Assuming nothing is urgent, like the radiator needed refilled every five miles, I would not have anything done.  If a perspective buyer asks, be truthful.  

If it is running rough due to the need for a "tune up" (like maybe new plugs and wires? Modern cars don't have any standard maintenance called a tune up anymore.) I would have that done, but tell us what it is you mechanic wants to do first. 

A slight leak in a gasket and brakes that are about due and maybe a marginal radiator, are all things that are to be expected in a used car.  (Note: again the above about that radiator.  If it is really iffy, I would suggest it might be a good thing to have done.

All of the above assumes you are going to sell it to an individual.  If you are planning to sell it to a dealer, don't bother with anything.  They can have it done for less than you can.

Good info Joseph.

If you have a safety inspection in your state before registration, you might want to get that done and make the demanded repairs. That will give you the best chance for a quick sale. The only item I see on the list that would be on the safety list would be the brake pads. You can put new plugs and wires in easily. Just remember to disconnect the battery first and only replace one wire at a time. That way you always know where the wire goes.

Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate your advice because my car knowledge is limited. The mechanic suggested that the breaks definitely be done. I’m planning on selling to an individual. The KBB says $3,995 for “Good” condition. I listed it for $3,500. I have a buyer that is very interested and I want to give her a fair price, but I am not sure where to go from here.

I would do the brake pads before you sell the car. Everything else can wait–if they need to be done at all. Radiators tend to lead at the seams on the side tanks and can sometimes be repaired by crimping the joints. The oil pan may show a leak around the gasket but many times this can be fixed or the leak dramatically reduced by tightening the bolts holding the pan. The timing belt will need to be replaced but is not as much a safety issue as the brakes. If the car is running OK there is no reason to for the tune up.

I’ve got a different approach, than some here, evidently… The oil pan gasket, if it is a slow leak, can wait. I wouldn’t bother. The tune-up and timing belt I wouldn’t bother with either, but be honest with any buyer that they will be needed.

The other two repairs, though - unlike some, I’d fix the radiator and not touch the brakes. Why? Well, personally, I would not buy a car with a leaking radiator - it would bring up questions of overheating/running dry/etc. It would make me question what else might be wrong.

Brakes, on the other hand, are standard maintenance and I wouldn’t worry about buying a car in need of brake pads. Better yet - if the new owner gets brakes done themselves, they could get a lifetime warranty from their preferred shop. If you get them done, they don’t get the warranty.

my approach would be to be honest if/when asked what is needed, but get the radiator done first. Then if they balk about the brake pads, offer to knock the price down by the cost of the repair and let them get it done, being certain to point out that this approach will get them a warranty and extra protection. Sell it as something you are doing for them