Repair cost of older vehicles


#1

I will start off by saying that I do not know much about cars, hence the question I am asking.

I have a chance to buy a 1979 Dodge Aspen with 40,000 original miles on it. My question is, would it be cheaper to repair this car or say a 2000 Honda accord.

The answer seems obvious but i just want to make sure.


#2

That’s not something I would touch, especially if you don’t do your own work. I think that year was on the bitter end of a bad time for Chrysler. Don’t know if they had their act together or not by then. Cars age like people regardless of the mileage so wires and connections deteriorate, rubber components deteriorate, metal rusts, plastic outgases, and so on. Plus parts might be an issue. If you like old cars, just go to a car show but drive something newer.


#3

On average the Dodge should be cheaper to repair. The big question for me would be knowing exactly what kind of price someone is asking for the Aspen.

Having 40k original miles does not necessarily equate to a premium price on a car like that. The Honda might be a better deal even at twice the price.


#4

I think that the Accord would be cheaper to maintain, and maybe that is a better cost to look at. The Aspen will reqire much more maintenance. Oil changes on the Aspen are every 6000 miles while Honda recommends 7500 on the Accord. If you change oil every 5000 miles in the Accord, you should change oil every 4800 mile in the Aspen to reduce the change interval by 20% for each car. Spark plug changes are 30,000 miles in the Dodge and 100,000 in the Accord. Expect the drive belt to last about twice as long in the Accord. Also, any older car will need a lot more repairs than a newer one.


#5

It is really expensive to repair an old car. The saddest part is that the money you put in, nobody cares. So when you go on to sell it you get nothing but just the worth of an old car.


#6

I would stay away from the Dodge Aspen because they were not very reliable 30 years ago. I say this and I drive a Dodge Dakota. This is my third one with no real problems.


#7

“I would stay away from the Dodge Aspen because they were not very reliable 30 years ago”

Absolutely true, and these cars would surely not be more reliable now than they were 30 years ago.

In fact, in his autobiographical book, Lee Iacocca himself admitted that these cars were essentially rolling junk when they were new. I can’t recall the exact quote, but he said something along the lines of…Most owners wanted to firebomb Chrysler headquarters, and if they did, I wouldn’t have blamed them.

One of the most…charming…aspects of this car that you would have to deal with is the unreliable carburetor and automatic choke. The automatic chokes on these cars were not to be trusted when new, and–trust me–the chance of finding a mechanic at this point who knows how to adjust the choke is…not good.

A friend of mine owned a Plymouth Volare (the mechanically-identical clone of the Dodge Aspen), and he moved to Michigan shortly after buying it. In cold weather, the car was essentially undriveable unless he warmed it up for at least 20 minutes before driving it. He found that out the hard way after he was almost killed a few times when the engine stalled on the entrance ramp to the interstate highway.

Actually, given the severe rust problems that these cars had, I would be very surprised to find one that is still safe to drive. If you insist on subjecting yourself to the misery of owning one of these automotive disasters, you really need to put it up on a lift prior to purchase in order to assess the extent of the rust damage on the undercarriage.


#8

My Dad owned a new 77 Aspen and my Brother owned a new 76 Volare’. Both were piece of crap vehicles. Extremely unreliable. The engines were excellent (Slant-6)…but everything else kept breaking. The ONLY vehicle I ever saw that a warped flywheel. Both my brother and Dad put thousands into maintaining their vehicles. Brother sold his after owning it 2 years. Had less then 50k miles.


#9

Two words regarding the Aspen: RUN AWAY!


#10

According to a recent issue of Hemmings Classic Car magazine, the Aspen/Volare twins were the subject of recalls for the following issues:

Severe rusting, particularly of the front fenders (Chrysler neglected to use fender liners in these cars, believe it or not!)
Emissions problems
Fuel System problems
Seat belt retractor problems

If the OP is insistent on buying this car, he would be well-advised to copy down the VIN, go to a Chrysler dealership, and have them determine if the car was ever brought in for repair related to those recalls. An amazingly high percentage of car owners ignore recall letters, and if this car never received recall-related repairs, it will be even worse than it already has the potential to be. And, even though recalls supposedly never expire, it is extremely unlikely that the parts necessary for the recall-related repairs even exist at this point.


#11

I had a '78 Volare wagon as a company car, same parts as an Aspen. A truly poorly made car. The motor is solid if it is the slant 6. The basic drive train (auto transmission, drive shaft, rear end) should also be ok as these parts were used in lots of Chrysler cars of the era.

The pollution controls on the car were awful, so it didn’t start easily and would run awful until fully warmed up. It would stall, die, and surge repeated during the warm up period. It was a heavy car and got poor mpg. All the door hardware, paint, interior trim, and seats were low quality. Handles fell off, windows fell out of the tracks and wouldn’t raise or lower.

The fact that this car is still around is about the only thing in its favor. Any mechanic should be able to diagnose and fix an Aspen, but visits to said mechanic could be frequent.


#12

The seller is getting rid of his junk. Actually my friend did that once. He bought a 2000 Lumina Van and it was nothing but trouble. It was at the mechanics all the time. He tried selling it but nobody bought it. So he sold it for very cheap, almost like giving it for free. Now the new owner is having a nightmare. I saw it parked and now its still parked there for like four months. It was also very low mileage (how can you get mileage from these cars) and paint was shiny and everything clean (did not get used enough huh?).


#13

The 2000 Accord has an excellent reliability record.

The '79 Aspen does not. But to be fair, the '70s were bad years for many manufacturers. They were trying to create low emission vehicles with carburators. They were caught between a rock and a hard place.

Go for the Accord. If you can find one in good shape that doesn’t have a billion miles on it.


#14
The '79 Aspen does not. But to be fair, the '70s were bad years for many manufacturers. They were trying to create low emission vehicles with carburators

That era Aspen/Volare’ had very little emissions to speak of. The Carb surely didn’t. I rebuilt the one on my Dad’s and bought a rebuilt one for my one on my brothers. What I remember they started to use this new material for their floats. It didn’t work well. My brother’s Volare’ would die every time he turned left. And let’s not forget about the ballast resistors. We kept a handful in the glove compartment.


#15

Talk about apples-oranges. WRT the '79, you’d be better off burning the cash for heat. At least then you’d get something out of it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


#16

As pointed out by others, the Aspen is a Bad old car. Not only were they unreliable, but the bodies and most of the mechanicals were sub-par. The engines were OK, or average.

You now have the un-availability of parts and skills to contend with as these vehicles had carburetors, a mystery to most younger mechanics.

The maintenace history is also a mystery, and poor maintenance will doom this vehicle from the start.

My brother still has an 1987 Accord, and he’s donationg it to charity when he returns from England.

This is a classic case where low mileage gets you into trouble.


#17

If you buy the Aspen keep a spare ballast resistor in the glove box. I owned Chrysler cars for 51 years and had a 76 Volare with a slant six and a 4speed floor shift. Had to replace both the transmission and differential. These cars were built in reaction to the 74-75 gas crisis and they omitted the fender liners and put in lightweight transmissions and differentials. So many differentials went bad on these cars that they were hard to find in the junkyard and we had to get the differential parts from a Valiant and wasp the internals. All in all my least favorite Chrysler product.


#18
These cars were built in reaction to the 74-75 gas crisis and they omitted the fender liners and put in lightweight transmissions and differentials.

The Dart didn’t have them either. Chryco is renowned for having the front fenders rust out early (3-4 years). I wouldn’t say these cars were designed for the gas crisis. They didn’t get good gas mileage.


#19

I had just graduated from university in 79 and decided I wanted to move to British Columbia the following year to seek my fortune in one of the logging camps on Vancouver Island. My dad gave me his 77 Aspen (he had just bought an 80 Malibu) and I headed west that summer. Completely uneventful trip and as I was generally headed straight, no issue with stalling on the left turns which seemed to plague this car, especially on wet days around town. The trip back the following year was made pulling a small U-Haul in which I had packed my 750cc motorcycle and a bunch of other gear I had acquired. I drove through the mountains and back to Ontario and did not use a drop of oil. I gave the car back to my dad and he sold it to the neighbour’s teen-aged grandson for three grand. It took him all of three weeks to total it. If I was going to buy one of these today I’d go back a few years say pre 75. One of my best friends had a gunmetal grey 75 (Valiant) which he drove back and forth across the country at least four or five times and down to Florida
on numerous occasions with zero problems. I think he had over a quarter million miles on it when he finally got rid of it.