Pay for service or get rid of it?

I’ve got a '94 Acura Integra with 124,000 miles. I took it in to the Acura service center because of some unusual noises/rattling and they told me it needs $2,600 worth of service including a new exhaust system, new brakes and a new axle (because the joint is leaking). I looked up the value on and it’s worth $2,600 in fair, working condition. If my math is correct, that means my car is worth $0 right now. But I need a car and I don’t want to spend the money to buy a new car. So is it better for me to pay the $2,600 in the hopes that I’ll get a couple more years out of it? Or should I assume that this will be just the beginning of many problems given that the car is 15 years old? The car has never been in an accident. I’ve serviced it on or ahead of schedule. I’ve replaced the timing belt and the tires are almost new. So it has no major, known service requirements anytime soon. I’ll drive fewer than 3,000 miles per year for the next few years and if I can make this car last then that would be great. But it also just feels foolish to spend $2,600 on a car that’s only worth $2,600 when it’s working. Any advice appreciated.

There is no reason whatsoever to be taking a car this old to the dealer. An independent mechanic and/or exhaust shop should be able to do this work just as well for a fraction of the cost.

That’s a very nice car you’ve got and it probably has decades and hundreds of thousands of miles left in it. I wouldn’t hesitate to get it fixed.

If the timing belt has been changed only once since 1994 you’re probably due for another one. You can add a few hundred more to your repair estimate(s).

Most dealers are too overpriced. My “old” chevy has 180,000 on the engine. My sister has the car and drives it back and forth to work. I’ve had the car for 3 years and put under 5000 on the engine. It’s outlasted two of my cars. My advise is to check around and try to find a private, reputable mechanic. I have a 2003 Grand Am with 40,000 miles on it. I hit a pothole last spring. I took it to a tire chain and they told me it was a strut. I took the car in last week for new tires and found out there is nothing wrong with my suspension. The only thing the honest mechanic said it needed was a front wheel alignment. I would have been cheated out of almost $1000 from a dishonest company. My advise is to check around for a good mechanic, have them check out what the car needs. It might cost around half of what the dealer try to sale you.

Find a recommended local mechanic and get a second opinion. All that stuff may be needed, but it likely it will be a lot cheaper if done by a local independent mechanic that by a dealer or chain. I suspect that you are going to find that not all that stuff needs to be fixed. You could find out that all that really needs to be fixed is a loose heat shield. On the other hand, how long has it been since a mechanic took a look at your car?

Personally I would fix it, your car is at most about half way towards the end of its design life. There is no way you are going to find a new car for $2,600 dollars.

Of course if you are just looking for some excuse to buy a new car and have the money, go for it. You don’t need our approval to spend your money.

Try a small independent shop. You can possibly half that quote with aftermarket parts and likely lower labor rates.

124,000 miles is really not very many miles on a well-maintained Acura. That being said, I want to point out that the timing belt needs to be replaced on an elapsed time basis and/or an accumulated mileage basis. Since you drive only about 3,000 miles per year, remember that the belt can’t wait until the specified number of miles comes up again on the odometer.

As rockford said, you are likely due for another timing belt replacement now (or yesterday). Check the Acura maintenance schedule in your glove compartment for the exact elapsed time/odometer mileage values for the timing belt replacement.

In view of how few miles you drive per year, I don’t think that you can justify the purchase price of a new car. And, for a couple of thousand $$, most used cars that you might buy will be no better–and probably far worse–than your present car.

Taking all of your information into account, I would suggest that you fix up this car, make sure that you are REALLY up to date with all maintenance (including the all-important timing belt) and keep it for a few more years.

Not only are many dealers over priced…but a good number of them are crooks. I’d take the car to another place for a second opinion.

Many years ago I made a mistake and went to a dealer for a minor repair…They came back with a estimate for over $1500…AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE ITEMS THEY MENTIONED WERE COMPLETELY BOGUS. Not only did I never take my truck back to them…but when I bought my new truck 4 years later I drove 30 miles past them to another dealer…I REFUSED to give my business to these crooks.

Agree! A good independent dealer will do the work quoted for 1/2 the priece IF THAT WORK WAS REALLY NECESSARY! Chances are much less work ins needed. Get a secend or 3rd opinion.

You have lots of good advice here. Let me add a little that have no mechanical basis. If you get a new or newer car, will you have collision and comprehensive insurance. That will cost you a lot more. It is very liberating to drive a worthless vehicle. You have one less thing to worry about.

Hmmm. You haven’t indicated what you would do instead. As beadsandbeads pointed out, you will have some kind of cost no matter what you do. If your trusted mechanic (whoever that may be) feels that $2,600 will do it, that might work out to less than some alternatives. It is also quite possible, though, that you’ll average about $2,000 a year in maintenance every year going forward at this point in the car’s life.

Before you have answered your own question, you will have to decide what the alternative might look like. It could be that you can find a new car with a full warranty for $200/month plus insurance. It’s not really a matter of foolish. It’s mostly arithmetic.

I will chime in here with the dealer bashing… go to a local mechanic, if you do not know one, ask a friend to suggest one. Knowledge of foreign cars would be good, but most have that by now. If you can not get a recomendation, take it to a mechanic or two to get a recomendation… however I would make a small change to what the other people are suggesting… I would tell the mechanic that you are planning to buy the car and you want his opnion. Bring it to two shops. Ask them to drive it with you and ask them what the rattleing is, ask them about the timing belt… it sounds like you do not know alot about the history of the car, and you are not even sure if something is wrong at all…

I drive a 92 Accord with 243,000 miles and average about $1000-$1500 per year on repairs. I like the car and I dislike car payments. From my perspective, I recommend you repair the Acura and keep it for many more years. You’ve already received lots of advice concerning dealers vs. independents, so I won’t repeat.

I live in the rust belt, so rust is probably the issue that’ll eventually end my car’s life.

I bought the car new, so I know 100% of its history. It’ll break my heart to give it up.

Probably the worst thing that can happen to either of us is to total the car just after spending $1000 or $2000 on repairs. You have to average the repairs over the life over the car, not just the past month or two.

Your repair costs are in line with the US average of about $1200 for maintenance, repairs and tires. Since your mileage is much higher I conclude you are performing very good maintenance and care on your car. It also speaks well for Hondas.