Repair or buy new car?

I have a Honda 2002 with 145,000 miles. I face $3500 in repairs. When do you repair versus put the money into a new car (under $20,000)? Repairs include: timing belt, front brakes, leaking coolant, all drive belts, replace bushings, new tires. Plus I am due for a major service of about $500.

sounds like you need fix items that normally wear outover time. also sounds like a dealer repair price. how is the rest of the car? is the cost your major concern? do you want a car that works perfectly all the time ?

Everything but the coolant is maintenance not repairs. I would do it all but do it in stages. When was the timing belt last changed? That is done ever 105,000 miles on my Accord. Wait to replace the serpentine belt until the timing belt is done. And replace the water pump at the same time. It is a minor additional fee since you have to almost change the timing belt to get at the water pump. As for the rest of the stuff, ask your mechanic to set up a repair list over a period of 6 months with the most severe problems first. And you can always ask for a second opinion on the issues if you are concerned about the diagnosis.

For a 12 year old car there is nothing unusual or unexpected about the items you list for repair. My '03 Civic has 150k miles l’d spend the $$ to keep it running. Timing belts, brakes, struts, bushings, are wear items.

What jtsanders said. Furthermore, who gave you this estimate? A dealership? If so, you need to find a trusted local mechanic. The dealership will try to sell you a lot of unnecessary work. And even if the work is necessary they’ll charge more than an independent mechanic.

It was a dealership quote, they did give a breakout for “now” versus “next visit” and a “you really don’t have to do” on 2 items (fuel injection service and oil leaking so replace pan gasket). Am getting second opinion from local shop.

The timing belt was done at 90,000 in 2007. The maintenance chart says every 110,000 or 7 years. The fact a Honda technician had me do it 20,000 miles early is a bit angering. As I drive about 10,000 miles a year I should be getting 2 more years out it and not have to replace it now (at the 7 year mark). I’m thinking of bargaining the cost of replacing the belt based on losing 20% of it’s life by premature replacement.

There should be an independent Honda specialist in your area for a second opinion. Some of this could possibly be spread out a little. The question that Tom & Ray have asked people in the past is if you could buy this car with all this work recently done for $3,500 would you?
Pretty much all of the list is to be expected on a 12yr old car with this mileage. If the car is otherwise reliable and in good shape then I’d consider keeping it. Some times repairs just pile up but then the next few years might not be relatively expensive. If you start to average more than $600/yr in repairs then it might be time for a new car. What we did when faced with this dilemma was to have a full inspection (more thorough than the standard inspection that you would get with an oil change) and see exactly what kind of shape the car is in.

Where’s the coolant leak?

We think alike, in having a thorough inspection. I asked Honda to do that first before a penny was spent on the major service I am due for. It took them over an hour to do that and no charge. And the rep sat with me going over everything. I left with no work done so I can think about it. I am getting a second opinion from a local shop next week, and I’ll see what the estimate savings would be.

The coolant leak reads: Remove and reseal with new thermostat and gasket (found slight coolant leak starting at the thermostat housing)

In regards to the fuel injection service and the oil pan . . .

Is the engine running fine?

Any misfires or lean condition which can be directly attributed to dirty injectors?

How badly is the oil pan leaking?

Spots on the driveway?

Have to top off often?

There’s a big difference between a Niagara Falls size leak and minor seepage

Having been a dealer mechanic for a long time, I know they are often prone to exaggerate the severity of leaks.

The oil leak is minor seepage. It was first mentioned a year ago. Last Fall no one mentioned it. Now the seepage is from more than one side of the gasket into the oil pan. I can’t tell, no visible drops in driveway and no problems driving. No oil added from last Spring until next oil change in Fall. They said to just check it once a month, they’d do it for free, to see if oil is needed.

If I were you, I’d want more control of the situation.

Monitor the oi level yourself, and top off as needed. Keep some oil in your garage for top offs.

Keep an eye on the oil level (a friend found out the hard way in the form of a new engine) and unless you are having to add more than a quart of two between oil changes you might not need to fix it just yet.

As with the coolant leak, I’ll ask where the oil seepage is.

The coolant leak is an extremely inexpensive fix and I commend the mechanic for suggesting a new T-stat and gasket. It’s a good opportunity to change the coolant out with fresh coolant as well. The corrosion inhibitors become depleted over time.

As to the oil seepage, the only area I’d look more closely into would be the engine front. Your engine is You don’t say what model Honda you have, but of you have a timing belt the oil could eat away at the rubber and cause premature failure. If you don’t have a timing belt, there should be no risk as long as you keep the oil level above the “add-a-quart” line on the dipstick. As long as the pump has a sufficient pool of oil to draw from, it’ll lubricate the engine normally. Catastrophic failure (sudden rupture) of a main seal would be extremely rare, so IMHO there’s no risk involved.

Why would you not wait at least until 180K for the belts? Minor leaks - fugeddaboudit. I see $1,000 getting you another 3 years.

The model is Civic sedan LX. I threw the “7 year time” question back to the Honda rep (email) on the timing belt. At the shop he was saying miles will let me wait (and no mention of time). The concern I have is one maintenance item is "replace all drive belts (found serpetine belt damaged/cracked), so wonder if that is a degrading issue which may give a hint of the condition of the rubber timing belt. I assume the timing belt cannot be seen, otherwise they could tell me its condition.

I have an '03 Civic so I’m very familiar with the car. There is a deterioration of the timing belt over time, regardless of miles. So, the recommendation to change it again in '14 is 7 years since the last change in '07. Since this is a motor that will suffer heavy damage if a belt breaks (an interference motor - meaning bent valves and damage to pistons) I’d have the timing belt job done in the next 12 months. This is about a $500 job. At the same time have the valves adjusted, the coolant replaced, and get the T stat changed.

I’m not sure you need to do anything about the oil leak from the pan. First I’d just snug up the pan bolts, back the original torque figure and see if that makes any difference. If there are no drips on the driveway where you regularly park I don’t see an issue.

I’m easy on brakes and I get about 70K out of front brakes, and over 100K from the rear drum brakes. A front brake job at 50K miles seems about right to me for most average drivers with the majority of miles being “town” miles.

Your car should have many more miles of dependable service. You haven’t mentioned any transmission fluid changes? If this has never been done, I’d drain and replace the transmission fluid, and I’d stick to Honda brand transmission fluid for the refill. I would not “flush” the transmission and I would not let any quick oil change facility touch the transmission fluid. Your independent garage can do it, but I’d still use only Honda brand fluid.

Thank you everyone. You are all very helpful.