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Is it worth it to keep paying for repairs?

I bought a used 1998 Honda CR-V four years ago with 100,000 miles. I was told at the time it needed a little work done (timing belt, new brakes, water pump, etc.) but that it was a great car and would last me forever.

In four years I’ve put 20,000 miles on the car and as much money in repairs as I bought the thing for originally (about $6,000.) My question is, at what point do I say, this is enough and it’s not worth it to put more money into the car in repairs?

According to KBB the value of the car is about $4000 and I own the vehicle outright (I also didn’t qualify for Cash for Clunkers!) Within the past year I’ve had to replace the clutch, get new tires, put in a second water pump, had a used transmission put in (for free to replace the old transmission that was destroyed by my mechanic doing a lousy job putting in the clutch.) And today I just took it in to a person I trust who told me that at the minimum I need a new radiator and a clutch master and slave, in addition to general tune-ups and some other major spruce up’s in the next year.

I can’t really afford a new car, but at this rate, I’m pouring more money into this car than it’s worth. At what point should I stop doing repairs and give up? If I decided to buy a new car, should I try and sell my CRV as a used car or for parts?

Thanks in advance!! I’m a recent college grad with a tight income and very little car knowledge.

Well tires and so on are a normal wear item and at that mileage you could expect some things like a water pump and clutch. The trans was early but that was a mechanic error. A radiator is not a major expense so at this point I think you are just getting normal wear and tear items and not major stuff. You might want to look at what you are paying for these though and maybe shop around. A radiator is only a couple hundred. One thing though with a water pump and a radiator, are you sure you are keeping up with maintenance on it? Antifreeze should be changed every couple years to avoid corrosion.

Clutch and tires are normal maintenance that you might expect at 100K, so while it cost you money, these items should not need to be repeated. Water pump replacement is not all that unusual at 100K. Did you replace the timing belt yet? If not, it is due, I think. Clutch should be for the duration of ownership, and tires should take you another 20-40K miles.

Same for radiator and clutch master & slave cylinder. They are one time fixes for this car.

Need to know more about spruce up, general tune up, etc that you refer to. If you do a 90K service on the car, that should catch up the maintenance, unless there are other, unstated issues you need to deal with. Once a complete list is known, you may be able to prioritize the most immediate to deferrable requirements, allowing you get along economically.

Without knowing more about the condition of your car, it is hard to assess whether the car should be retained or junked.

Yes, I have replaced the timing belt–twice. I was using a guy who obviously really screwed me over. I found another person (though the Car Talk recommendations) that seems to know what he’s talking about, but in terms of good maintenance, its been an issue.

In addition to a radiator, clutch master and slave my current mechanic thinks my car is in OK condition, but everything that’s made of rubber is going and needs to be replaced. Here’s the most recent laundry list:
all motor mounts
differential fluid
wiper blades
brake fluids
pollen filters
gasket heads
tie rod ends
ball joint (covers??)

On my income I can afford to buy a slightly used (2-3 year old) Honda/Toyota basic package.

In my opinion, most of what you’ve listed are normal wear and tear, maintenance type items and you can face this expense no matter what badge is on the back of the car.

The clutch failure could be caused by either your driving habits or the prior owner so a bad clutch is not necessarily a sign of faulty parts.
The clutch hydraulic failures could be attributed to failure to change the fluid on a regular basis and after all, those hydraulics are about 12 years old.

Offhand, the only thing that really glares at me is this “gasket heads” thing.
Could you elaborate on that?

“gasket heads”

Do you possibly mean that you were told that it needs a head gasket? If that is the case, you are looking at an expensive repair that could get much more expensive as the job goes along.

Since there is nothing called a “gasket head”, can you clarify this particular point for us?

Luckily I wrote it down wrong the first time, hopefully this is less expensive:
'The oil pan gasket leaks. The rear trailing arm brushings are broken. The tie rod end boots and front lower control arm ball joint boots leak." (in addition to the rest of the correct list of things above)

Thanks again everyone!!!

First don’t drink the “Honda” (or Toyota) kool-aid. Yes some some people get lucky but after 10 years none of your repairs are a surprise.

Personally I would keep fixing it as needed and budget for another vehicle. At least you own it. When you tire of it move on. It really is a flip of a coin at this point.

All of these items except the oil pan gasket are maintenance items. I’d keep it and do the regular maintenance. As for the gasket, you may or may not need to replace it now. how much oil leaks out of it? I have a small leak in a 1998 Buick Regal oil pan gasket. It loses about a half quart between oil changes. I can live with that. Especially since I have to drop the engine to change the gasket!

You need to look at your real costs. is it cheaper to keep fixing this thing or make a payment plus all the routine maintenance and fixes that go on with a newer car? I personally would rather drive 20 year old vehicles that are paid for than having the payments on a new one

Much of your list is maintenance and that applies to new and old cars the same.

So add up the last years REPAIRS (not maintenance) and then compare that to a year’s worth of car payments.

When you bought the car it was 7 years old and had 100K miles. It sounds like you had a bad mechanic for awhile. Other than the clutch and transmission issues you are looking at replacing are things that wear out in time (rubber stuff) and miles (bushings).

If you have a good mechanic now then your car will hold up for a long time. Perhaps you can prioritize some of these repairs and put off others until later to keep within a budget. Of the list of items you cite as recommended not all have to be done at the same time. Consult with your mechanic and have things done over the next year or year and 1/2 based on more important items now and others later.