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How much to spend on repairs before just buying new car

I have a 2006 Honda CRV with 130,000 miles and I am the original owner. Up until October 2016 the only car issues or fixes that were needed were regular maintenance. Then I had to replace the power steering pump,a new solenoid, serpentine tensioner pulley and belt, one ($400) engine mount, alternator, starter, control arm bushings and struts. I’m sure I missed a few things but I’m feeling anxious just typing this. My question is, as a single mother working full time as a registered nurse who likes camping and traveling by car, how do I figure out how much is too much money to put into my existing car before I decide to buy a new car and begin car payments? Have spent >$5000 since October and car is only worth that. Most of the work done is via dealership and trusted mechanic shop.

The items you consider “fixes” are really maintenance on a car with $130,000 miles. These parts that were just replaced won’t need replacement for another 100,000 miles but there are other things that might. As long as the body hasn’t started to rust in important structural places, you can drive this car well more than another 100,000 miles and 10 more years without major engine issues.

But the answer to your question is; there is no clear answer. Driving older cars bring some risk. Risk of a major repair or risk that someone will hit your car and total it out right after you’ve just spent $5000 on maintenance.

Driving and older car has rewards, too. No car payments. New cars are expensive averaging $30,000. Figure a $500 car payment every month for 5 years. That will buy a LOT of repair work on your CRV. A transmission rebuild will run maybe $3000 or 6 car payments.

My advice is to put money aside every month for either repairs or a new car and drive this Honda as far as it will go. It is the cheapest way to own a car. The next one you get, buy a 2-3 year old used car off lease. Let someone else eat the big depreciation.


I had a 2005 Honda Accord EX V6 with 190,000 miles. Starting late last year, I replaced the rear brake calipers, the hood struts, and the air intake tube. The seatbelt SRS light started randomly coming on. I think the SRS light is a buckle sensor issue, but I have to remove the driver’s seat to get at it to change it. I tried cleaning the buckle already. Stuff crops up as a vehicle ages. I traded mine in for a new Accord EX-L, and I’m very happy with my choice.

Maybe you should move on, too. It sounds like your CR-V is in very good shape. You can get your best money for it in this condition. If you don’t want to sell it on the open market, find a dealer like Car Max that buys vehicles and get an offer. They might surprise you with a good offer. I sold a minivan to them a few years ago, and got a lot more than I expected.

After you get the offer, you might consider comparing that to a trade-in value from a dealer for your new vehicle. Pick the one you like best. I got $1500 for my Accord and considering the work it needed, I thought it was more than fair.

Now is a good time to buy a new car if you plan to keep it for a long time. I got almost $5000 off a $30,000 car because it is the end of the model year, and I bought an unpopular style (sedan).

You will spend more on this Honda because as said above, things break over time. If you don’t do the work yourself, it can get expensive. You need to take the $5000 you spent over the period of time it was spent and compare that to the cost a a new car over the same time period.

Oh I don’t know, it’s the proverbial closing the barn door after the horses got out. In my view the only thing to consider in making a repair is whether or not you will drive the car long enough to recoup the investment. You already spent the $5000 so the time to trade would have been before spending it. Some years ago our fleet manager that managed about 3000 cars did a maintenance and repair study to determine the optimum time to replace vehicles. At that time he found just before 100,000 miles was the best time. Then there are a bunch of maintenance/repairs but then it is good again for quite a few miles approaching the 150-180K mark.

True most of your stuff is just maintenance but there will be peaks and valleys. It is not a linear thing. If you don’t like the car, then trade it but if you do like it, decide at what point you want to trade so that you trade before major investments instead of after. If this makes any sense. Of course if you don’t do those repairs such as tires, when you trade, the value will just be reduced anyway. Myself though, I don’t like being without a warranty anymore so trade about 60,000 on my primary vehicle.

Mind saying how many years ago, and the (general) make-up of the fleet?

Notice you got 3 different answers in 3 different posts. None are wrong, just different.

Yep. It’s just impossible to predict. I’ve seen a number of Honda engines happily go to 500k miles. I’ve seen others die early either through owner neglect or just sheer bad luck.

What you really need to determine the answer, OP, is a crystal ball. I can say what I would do, which is that I would keep it because, hey, you get a new car and you are guaranteed to spend whatever the new car costs. A new CRV starts at around 24 grand. Are you gonna put 24 grand into your car any time soon? I’m guessing not.

But it’s possible that I would get bitten doing that, because I might put another 2 grand into fixing whatever needs fixing over the next 10,000 miles only to crack the engine block and have to replace it anyway. Or a drunk could run into the car next month, and you won’t get reimbursed for recent repairs.

Bottom line, it’s a crap shoot. Do what you can best afford and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. It’s a good idea to have some money set aside in case something bad happens and you need a downpayment - that goes for everyone who drives a car, not just you.

I wonder if the OP has ever changed the trans fluid of this CR-V.
If not, 130k miles is right about the mileage where an unmaintained transmission can be expected to fail, and that will be…expensive.

If the trans fluid was changed every 30k miles or so, then there is probably some life left in the transmission. But, if a 3 yr/30k mile fluid change regimen wasn’t followed, I predict a very large repair bill in the near future.

…just something to consider…

Pretty normal repairs for a 10 year old vehicle with 130K on the clock. $$-wise you’d probably be better to keep this vehicle another 5 years. The main risk to your wallet would be that it experiences a transmission failure. But you could minimize that by regular transmission services. If you have a manual transmission, even that isn’t much of a worry. $5000 is a good chunk of cash to spend on car repair, but a new car will hit your wallet much more, plus higher insurance premiums and registration fees. And new car repairs – once the warranty expires – are often much more expensive b/c of all the technology in new cars these days. So like I say $$-wise, better to keep your CR-V.

But there’s more to life than $$'s. The main problem with keeping the CRV as I see it is the shop time it will need going forward. All the parts are 10 years old, never going to be as reliable as a new car where all the parts are brand new. When it is in the shop, you can’t drive it, so you’ve lost its use. A car you can’t use seems problematic for a single mother who has a full time job that requires you be there on time. For somebody who enjoys fixing their own cars in their driveway, not much of a problem. Plenty of work-a-rounds are possible. But that doesn’t sound like your situation. My recommendation is to start looking for a new or newer vehicle. Not an emergency, but start paying attention to cars you see on the road that you like, your friend’s cars, etc.

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I have a question about all these recent expenses; did you just get a new mechanic. Not that the repair are unusual for the age of the car but some mechanics want to restore everything to near new condition and the cost for that adds up.

As you see, we have not been able to figure the sweet spot ourselves. I kept a Dodge Caravan minivan to 180K Miles but doing the math, after 100K Miles I spent more money on it than a new van lease would have cost me. Also bear in ind most of the repairs were done by myself and I only paid for the parts.

On my recent car, a Toyota Camry, it didn’t need much of anything up to 170K miles and that was when I got rid of it. Would have it gone for another 100K Miles? Most likely. But it wasn’t worth my time and aggravation to make it there. I decided to sell it and move on to a new car.

If you have low tolerance for car breakdowns and can afford a new or newer one, then might be best to move on.

@texases I believe it was mid-80’s and they were all US manufacturers such as Chev, Ford, Chrysler and AMC. So things change but the point was that there are peaks and valleys in repairs so the idea is to trade before the peaks not after spending a lot of money on repairs. People get bumbed out and worried after they get hit with a number of repair bills but that is exactly the time not to trade. I’m not going to dig out my own 10,000 mile repair analysis from new to 480,000 for every 10K interval, and frankly I don’t know where it is, but it also shows peaks and valleys in repairs. So that’s the point-you trade before not after major work or keep it for a while to get your money out again-all other things being considered, like I can’t stand a break down.

In addition, people talk about whether engines last or not as an indicator of repair expenses. I’ve got to say that in my million and a half mile sample, I’ve only once had an engine failure and that was the GM diesel. If you do the analysis, engines and even transmissions are not what is going to eat up repair money. Rather its electronics and motors and bearings and front ends and diagnostics and so on.

Thanks, I was wanting to put that (extensive) experience in some relationship to cars today. Given the model years, and brands, I bet a similar study today with Honda/Toyota cars might point to a 200k or so ‘time to sell’ number.

Thank you all for your input. Click and Clack were right for directing me to this forum. I love my car, so I will consider many of the great suggestions in keeping it for awhile longer and stash some money aside for when it’s time to move on. The transmission thing has me worried though. Thanks again.

Once the car is out of warranty, most repairs are cheaper at you trusted mechanic than at the dealer. And dealers have a tendency to recommend fixing things that your mechanic will tell you to live with like minor oil seepage past gaskets or noisy brakes that still work well and have good pad thickness.

When I traded the Accord, the used car manager remarked that the engine was still strong at 190,000 miles. I wasn’t concerned about the drive train, but other systems that would need work soon. Had I kept the car, I would have changed the front brake calipers in a month or two since I had to change the rears in January. I was waiting for better weather.

Some people, when considering trading a vehicle in the next two years will choose to defer certain repairs like replacing struts, suspension bushings and engine mounts if they are not critical/completely failed.

A strut for instance can leak for a year or more before enough oil is lost to affect suspension performance. However if a technician ignores your leaking strut and three months later you warranty has expired you would not be happy. The technician is expected to identify the vehicles faults, the customer must decide what is to be repaired.

I would not worry about the transmission. I bet you haven’t worried about it until you came to this forum. Had your same question been for another model car with the same mileage and issues your Honda has had, you would have received the same answers…because they are all true for any car. Enjoy the CRV, it will last another 100K miles, at least.