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At what point does a used car become too expensive to maintain? Blue Book Value?

I have a 1996 Honda accord LX, bought it last April at 243,XXX miles and now it’s at 253,717. Here’s the list of repairs we have done to the car. I’m shelling out a lot of money to fix this car and we’ve done a lot of the repairs ourselves. Engines in great shape and so is the transmission, the car gets 25 MPG putting around the city and the interior is very clean. I’d like to keep it but the timing belt replacement is due in 15,000 miles and I don’t want to do it. I always said I’d sell it when the transmission went out or the engine broke-down, but well, here’s the list of repairs so far.

*Passenger side Ball-arm Joint($85)
*Two new sway bar links($30)
*New Inner Tie Rods($75 with boots)
*New radiator($100 including cap)
*New speedometer Chip w/installation($70)
*Front fender skirts ($27)
*New Exhaust pipe($65)
*New distributor($321 + 65 to install) – Anyone interested in my OEM one. Only needs an o-ring, rotor and cap.
*3 new tires + alignment ($255)
*Light Relay Fixed($67)

= $1,170 repairs so far and I’ve only paid for two of these jobs.

And amazingly it still needs more work. The A/C doesn’t work, and it’s due for a timing belt job sometime next year. Kelly blue book says fair condition value for my car is 2,400. If I sold it at that, I’d only be out $500.(Paid about $1,500 for the car)

What do you all think I could I get in it’s present condition? What could I get from it if I do the timing belt job and repair the air conditioning?

Sell it on craigslist for whatever it will bring and move on.

For a car with 250K miles and 15 years old, I’d say you are just replacing stuff you’d expect to be worn out. Since the book value is low, you are replacing worn out parts to keep the car on the road. If you are worried about repair costs vs book value, you are already pushing it since the value is just not there in such an old high mileage car.

The only way to get a return on the costs of all the repairs is to keep it and drive it. If you want a car with few repair costs, buy a much newer car (4 or 5 years old) with much less miles (like 30 to 50K).

At 250K I think you can either get the timing belt changed or skip it and see how long it lasts. Once the belt breaks send the car to a salvage yard and move on. You might get up to 300K+ miles before that belt gives out.

well lets see,its a bit of an economy car(it hasnt been “Fast and Furioused” before you got it has it? thats the only thing that bothers me on a used Honda-the way a young former owner may have treated it).I would not worry about its value.use it for a beater and at least get the timing belt replaced,you may get another 50K out of it.I used to have this thing about about old used valueless pickups it seems like after a certain point you can make your mind up to spend a certain amount on it annually and keep going for years and still have a fairly reliable vehicle(no payments sure feels good)-Kevin

If the transmission, motor and bod are in " good" shape, everything else is normal replacement parts for cars that old. It’s still cheaper then paying the bank. Cars always cost money. That’s what they are designed to do. You are now paying the people who matter and are woefully inconvenienced by an older car. Is it safe and reliable and what are your finances ? Include these questions in deciding to move on.

You’re running out of things to fix, so why consider getting rid of the car now? The only reason I could see why is if there is more to the story and you are convinced you are throwing good money after bad. By the way, fixing the air conditioning will not increase the “fair” KBB value of the car, and replacing the timing belt will not affect any condition “value” of the car. If you hate this car or it worries you to drive it, by all means get rid of it. If you are concerned with KBB value, driving an old beater is probably not for you.

Let’s see . . . .

You paid $1500 for a car, drove it 10,000 miles, did some minor repairs yourself, needed no major work, and you are COMPLAINING? You should be BRAGGING! Well done, my friend.

15yo car…things wear out.

As dagosa said…If tranny and motor are good shape…then keep going.

With the exception of the speedometer chip, everything you’ve fixed has been normal wear items. You have a 15 year old car with over 1/4 million miles on it. As others said, things wear out. $1,000 and change is a lot cheaper than a new car, after all.

BTW, three tires? This means you’re running mismatched tires somewhere. That’s a bad idea, both for safety and, if it’s on the front, mechanically.

I’m with mleich. You start losing money the day you buy it. If you were to subtract the residual value (I’ll trust your research) you say you’re out $500. That’s only $500 for 10,000 miles! Tell me where you’re going to get a bargain like that anywhere else. For example, you’re running about 1/2 what it costs me per mile on my current vehicles (considering only purchase price - residual value). Does that make you feel any better?

What does Blue Book have to do with it?

Once you get into older cars there is no way to value a car other than checking out that specific car and to determine what condition it is really in.

I don’t understand how the great majority of new car buyers justify the expense. When the price+ finance charges + insurance is considered the cost per mile is astronomical without considering fuel cost.

Well, the tires are different brands both they were replaced all about the same time. Both tires in the front are the same brand and none have been rotated, is that bad?

According to my manual timing belt was done at 144,000 miles. A shop that quoted me the timing belt price said he’s seen some come in with OEM timing belts at 200k miles. It would be pretty sweet if it clocked over 300k miles or if it went all the up to 344k!

Although, I don’t know how long it will last. I have a very small leak in the camshaft/crank that’s supposedly getting on the timing belt. I put down cardboard on my driveway and the leak is about the size of a golf ball in diameter.

These are the 2nd pulleys and water pump. I have records from the dealership that all the timing belt stuff and assortment was done at 90,000 miles. But I assume for the 144k job, just the timing belt was replaced.

For me it is when I am willing to buy a new car and pay 3 to 4 hundred per month vs possible repairs for reliability. Granted I may come out cheaper in doing repairs but being without a car during repairs may be more inconvenient and thus a risk, I prefer not to take. In that case I buy new, or mildly used.

For me it used to be when my wife said so. Don’t have the wife anymore. Lookin’ for a newer model.

Well you don’t want to ask me. I am driving an 84 Audi 4000s that I have had since 97. 334,000 on the clock and used for a 38 mile 1 way commute. I just put in all new brake lines a throwout bearing. And a bunch of other parts. I have a nice stock of parts in the basement! I also dropped in a wide ratio transmission to bring the MPGs up and the RPMs down. Filled the tank today and calculated the MPGs, now at 34.05MPG. If you like working on old cars and somewhat keep up the maintenance they can run for a very long time… Also my parts payments are NOTHING compaired to new car payments and depreciation. Insurance is cheaper also as I only carry liability.

The average US driver spends about $1100 per year on maintenance, repairs and tires. The average car is 9 years old and has a lot less than 250,000 miles on it.

I agree with others that you should just keep driving it, budget $1100 per year and just drive it into the ground. A 7 year old Honda with 100,000 miles on it would also need a timing belt, tensioner and water pump, at about $850.

You have to realize that a car that will last 400,000 miles will consume nearly its original selling price in maintenance and repairs. Industrial and commercial maintenance specialists know this all too well.

Everybody has their own opinions on this. I’ve put mega miles on new and used and really on a cost per mile basis, there is little difference in cost after a couple of hundred thousand miles on each. Now that I don’t drive as much, it is just great to not have to pay for anything except oil and filters plus don’t have to diagnose or fix anything myself. If you’re running 50K miles a year though, you really have to rely on your own skills to reduce cost.

As far as the OP goes, you’re at about 26 cents a mile which is not bad for not driving many miles. If you put another $500, what would that do to your cost per mile? If you aren’t going to drive it enough to get your money out of it (or to bring down your average cost per mile), then dump it. Most of what you have done though is general maintenance or repairs that would need to be done on most any cheaper used cars. Repairs though seem to come in clusters and then you are ok again for a while. Its just knowing enough to not start another cluster of repairs if you aren’t going to follow through on them all and drive it enough to get your money out of it.

As the saying goes from now on anyway, “it’s your coin; flip it any way you want”. The answer varies. I’ve had some standard theories for my own cars but there aren’t many 87 Ford Tempos that haven’t gone past my 140,000 mile dump theory.

I was suprised when I did an average Junkyard speedometer scan on Volvo 240s the ones sitting in the junklot didnt have as many miles on them as I figured they would have,I attribute it to poor maintenence.The Tempos weren’t designed to last that long anyway in my opinion(there is such a thing as throwing good money after bad)Kevin PS I would like to hear your 140K theory PDV2