Call it quits or do repairs?

So I have a 1999 Honda Accord with 136k miles. Throughout the years I have done the typical maintenance on the car, the oil changes every 3,000 miles and generally kept the car in decent condition. However, in the past year or so, there have been quite a few pricey maintenance items such as a fix on the brake system (the left rear caliper and tubing had deteriorated), some pressure valves in the fuel system, and a few replacements to the electrical wiring.

Then in addition to those repairs, I have a few more things that have popped up and I am unsure what the best course of action should be. My front left (what’s wrong with the left side of my car…) ball joint needs to be replaced as it won’t pass inspection. For most of 2011 I have driven with the engine light on in the car because there is a tiny hole in the top of the gas tank that causes the sensors in the tank to trip but doesn’t really affect the car much, nor does it emit much in the way of fumes. As such though, it won’t pass inspection with the engine light on and front what I have been told, it is not really something that can be fixed easily because you would need to drop the gas tank, possibly patch it if possible but more than likely replace it with another tank. (Not exactly sure why it couldn’t be patched, that is just what my mechanic said). Then my serpentine belt sounds like it should be replaced because it occasionally squeals when I start up the car and continues for a bit until the car warms up.

The car has been fairly reliable and enjoyable to drive, but with these repairs that will cost $1k+ I am not sure if it will be worth it.

Any advice on the next course of action would be much appreciated.

If your timing belt was not replaced add another $500-$1000 to your required repairs.

$1000 hurts but generally a replacement vehicle either used may require some repair or new the fees/depreciation insurance increases etc will cost nearly the same.

A $1000 is nothing extraordinary on a 12 yr old car that hopefully is paid for.

You’d rather pay $30,000 for a new car than $1,000 to keep yours on the road? Sounds like a big government solution to your problem. The wise thing to do is to fix your car and keep driving it.

Well my concern is that not only will it most likely be over $1000 but would these repairs get the car working for a decent amount of time? Or would it generally just be a losing battle I keep dumping money into for repair after repair.

Your car is 13 years old, so whether or not to keep it is a function of your tolerance of repair bills. Every part on the car is old, radiator, heater core, AC compressor, etc., etc. You have to expect more frequent repairs in the next 10 years than the last 13. So, the question really is how tolerant are you of repair bills?

The car could last another 10 years and go another 150 to 200K miles, but it will need repairs along the way. You should expect to pay $1,000 to 1,500 a year on an old car. If you don’t use all that money one year, it could a lot more the year after that. The repairs you cite as needed are nothing unusual for a car this age. Your real decision point will be when you need to spend $2K to 3K for a new automatic transmission.

Fix this car and save some money for a replacement in the next 5 years or so.

Thanks for the input!

Unless it gets extremely expensive to do the repairs I’d continue driving the older car rather than buying something else. If you could buy a repair manual such as Haynes/Chilton’s and learn how to do the work yourself you’d find you could keep the car on the road and in good condition for many years to come at minimal expense. If the car needs a ball joint on one side I’d suggest doing both sides and the tie rod ends while doing the work, otherwise the other old parts will probably wear out shortly afterward and if you only replace one part at a time you could end up having to do 4 front end alignments instead of only one, probably saving $200-$300 in alignments alone. I have one car that has over 518K miles on it and I’ve noticed that about every 100-150K miles there are certain things that wear out which would probably be typical for most cars. I make the repairs then usually it’s only minor things until it’s been another 100-150K miles. The one thing I have to my advantage is that I’ve replaced most of the parts with lifetime warranty parts and I do my own work so in most cases all it’s costing me is my time. To look at the car you’d think it was ready for a junk yard, but I keep it up mechanically even though the body is in really poor condition. My car also gets 40-45MPG so the savings in gas expense help offset the time I spend working on it.

I have a 99 Accord with 190,000 miles. It has been very reliable and I don’t mind the $500 to $1000 per year in repairs and maintenance it seems to rack up since it is paid for. A car payment is more than double the cost of maintenance of my old car on an annual basis.