Advice -- fixing up a 1994 Corolla

We’re a two-car family. My husband is buying something very swank ('07 Audi) to become our primary vehicle, and I’d like to hold on to our '94 Corolla as a backup – it’s safe, basically free to drive and runs quite well.

It does, however, need a number of small fixes. I’m wondering which of these, if any, won’t cause me to throw up all over the mechanic when I hear the price quote:

* Replace rear view mirror (broken and jiggly – won’t stay in place as I drive)

* Reconnect back windshield brake light (hasn’t been working for years)

* Repair driver’s side instrument panel (can’t operate the power windows from this)

* Reconnect rear window defroster button (button was broken in a break-in last year, but I’m sure defroster is fine)

I’d like your opinions, too – if you were going to be driving this car for the next 3 to 5 years, which of these could you live with and which would you fix?

You can get a rear view mirror and any instrument panel parts from a junk yard, which will save a considerable amount of money over the cost of “new” parts from Toyota.

The center brake light may just need a bulb, which is $2.

Personally, I’d fix EVERYTHING that needs repair. Why have things that don’t work. You don’t say how many miles are on this car, but my daughter’s '91 Corolla served her well until 180,000 miles, and the people to whom she sold it are still driving it.

You can probably get several more good years from this car, maybe more. It’s almost always less expensive to repair a car than to replace one.

Thank you – great advice. Are these repairs I should be attempting myself? I just called my usual garage and they tried to refer me to a body shop, which sounds expensive.

You can do them all. Well maybe the defroster I will leave to the electric shop guy. The mirror and the switch board are no brainer. Check on and find a local junkyard. Learn how to take the part off of the car in the JY and then repeat the procedure on your car.