Another keep or heap question - 93 accord

Hi everyone,

I’ve got a 1993 honda accord with 197k miles on it. I recently put a fair amount of work into it: new brakes (pads calipers and fluid), new struts and new sway bar, as well as newish tires. It makes a knocking sound when I turn hard. I took it to a mechanic, and they couldn’t guarantee that it was, but suggested it was the ball joints and they’d need to be replaced. It seems like something pretty important to fix safety-wise.

My wife and I are graduate students, so we don’t have a ton of disposable income, and would prefer to not buy a new car. But, if it would be cheaper to get something relatively new, that of course would be the better option.

So the question is: do I keep sinking more money into this thing and hope the problems are solved (at least for another 3 years til I finish grad school) or should I just get what I can for it selling it and try to find something else?

On fwd cars like yours they’re called CV joints, and it’s common for them to need replacement. They will replace the left or right axle. Which side makes the noise? You should check around, it shouldn’t be too expensive. Certainly cheaper than a replacement car.

Any used car that you might purchase will need some kind of repair. I think that in your position it would be best to stick with the Honda. Find a good independent alignment shop. I’ve had good luck with independent tire shops that do alignment work. Another point to consider is how recently you replaced the timing belt. If this belt breaks, the engine is usually done for.
I was in your position once. We were in graduate school and we owned an older Rambler. A snap ring broke in the manual transmission. We debated as to whether or not we should repair the car or look for something else. We checked around and found a good independent transmission mechanic and had the Rambler repaired. Not only did the Rambler get us through our graduate work, but we drove it a couple more years and the money we saved not purchasing another car was applied to purchasing a house.
I recommend that you do the necessary work on the Honda (including the timing belt if it hasn’t been changed recently) and follow up with some careful driving.
Good luck with your graduate studies.

You probably have CV joints going out. These are part of your drive axles and are a common problem on Hondas of this vintage. They are not too expensive, usually $200-300 per side. If it breaks, the car won’t be going anywhere under its own power, but usually won’t damage anything else. You should have the ball joints checked as well, front and rear, based on the age and mileage of the car.

If you haven’t had the timing belt done recently, I would seriously consider having that done ASAP as well. Timing belt failure on a Honda spells disaster for the engine. While it’s apart for that, the tensioner and water pump should also be replaced. There is little additional labor to replace these items, and doing it now will prevent further expense and headaches down the road.

I would certainly keep this car and do the work needed on it, assuming it is otherwise mechanically sound and not rusted beyond recognition. If the car is otherwise solid, and you need to replace CV shafts, ball joints (I sort of doubt you need those; they are pretty rugged in the Accords, but it is certainly possible at 197k miles), timing belt, water pump, and tensioner, you should still be well under $1500. Quite a bit of money, but still not new car money.