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Better Decision: Upgrade my 22 yr old w/ a used $8k

My second car, 1987 Integra hatch w/ 144k miles - did a tranny job 4k miles ago for $850. Did the engine mount, $150.

It prob time for a brake job & 4 new tires.

Timing belt was done at 75k - manual inspection doesn’t show any cracks.

A/c doesn’t work - car get heated easily due to sun light - prob poor insulation. Suspension is not good - shows on control of the car as well as ride. Engine runs great. It’s a roomy hatch and hauls a lot. It does around 3k miles a year - local drives.

I am thinking of getting a used Matrix for under 8k. At times I am wondering if I should put some time and have the integra fixed and keep it for another 5 yrs?

Appreciate your advice.

My money situation dictates my response. Don’t like putting out 8K. You only drive 3K a year,hard to justify spending much money on a car.

It does appear you have some costs comming up,that timing belt worries me,sounds like you need struts,this would be much more a issue if you were a daily interstate commuter,does it bother you no AC? is this a R12 system?

Any buyers for the car as it sits? make a detailed list of what you must/want fixed and go from there.

It sounds like the 8K Matrix is the way to go,but thats just me.

  • A/c only a issue in a few wks during the Summer as my spouse is sensitive to sunlight
  • R12: not sure, maybe not - its a standard 1.6 DOHC automatic
  • struts, some times noticeable not other times - its possible to get a uses ones from Wreckers.
  • prob easy to sell ($700 to $1500) - previously a contractor asked for it.

A lot of people wouldn’t fix the struts but rightly or wrongly my mind is planning for a go/no go situation with a 5yr plan - if it is go, I might be tempted to fix the strut especially if I can get the front pair for $50 - not sure what the labor is - maybe less than $100

It seems you started with no and then switched to yes towards the end!

One mechanic said struts cost $100 each for labor - ie higher than what I thought.

Your right I did.The more I typed the more I added and that just the way it popped out. It is such a close call (at least for me) the problem is you want to go five years,but thats only 15K for you.$1500 right now as it sits,would the Matrix give you peace of mind? things could pop up on it also (as you know).Wish I could be more exact for you.

Here’s a rough list with rough pricing:
timing belt 600 maybe defer for six months or so.
Struts 400 front (check with Sears for a sale – they usually purchase Monroe struts w/life guarantee locally and run some fairly good deals on part or labor, with some sale on almost every week)

AC if fixed and requires new system: 1200-1500. Can be deferred to May 09.

Tires under $200 if you get lower ended 35K or 40K tires

rear shocks/springs could be an issue, too

Brake job: 150 or so per axle; more if rotors or caliper required.

It’s up to you, but if body and interior is good, along with engine being OK and rebuilt trans, I would do the work rather than spend 8K all at one time.

Given many of the unknowns, perhaps spending 100 for a trusted mechanic to give you a complete evaluation might be worth it. The AC is one of the biggest and most expensive unknowns at this time.

Is there a way I can sign up for Sears Auto specials?

AC is only a issue a few wks in summer - with the change in fluid, its not something that I am going to invest.

Struts, at this cost, I am going to ignore it.


  • $300 brakes, $300 tires + average a $150/yr on other breakdowns (well before the tranny it appeared that way with engine mount & mufflers - since then, I have not been to the mechanic).
  • Timing belt - I see ads for $300

Perhpas fixing the Struts at a deal (say $100) will make the car a compelling reason to keep - when was a student, I bought used struts at $25 each and about the same money for labor on my Datsun 180B.

Interior & paint are all good.

THere is a known issue with the electrical wires getting snapped at the hinge of the hatch - I fixed it - not sure when it will break again.

Check Sometimes their auto specials are nation-wide and can be seen in their weekly ads there. Otherwise, you have to call the store. I priced Monroe Sensatracs for your vehicle at an auto part store and they run around $60 each. Most stores and mechanics will mark them up, but if you can find a 25% off struts or labor and can wait until you find a sale, there is some savings there. Sears’ sales are variable and you will need an alignment also, about another $75-$100.

while I understand your desire for economy, you probably need to get the whole suspension inspected. Sears will do this for free. Be aware that in the past Sears paid penalties for their up-sell and unnecessary work recommendations. While my family probably has not fallen victim to these tactics, you need to be a bit wary of their sales pitch for more. On the other hand, there could be several other suspension issues that you may need to deal with other than the struts.

No one in my area will touch a timing belt for less than $500, so I would be leery of the $300 offers. You may need a new tensioner. Keep in mind if you have a water pump driven by the timing belt, it should be replaced also at the same time (no extra labor cost, part only), so the package price can be more than you really expect. Discuss with the mechanic first, not when the car is apart.

Sometimes cheapest is not always best. I have had successful experiences with Sears and their struts, etc, so I don’t hestitate to recommend them.