Should I fix my car or just drive it til it dies?

Hi, so my Honda Civic is 15 years old, it was a family car that I recently started using regularly. The transmission is going and it needs a new radiator. I’ve been told replacing those two things will be about 3000. I can’t afford a new car so, my question is should I even bother fixing this car or should I just drive it til it dies? If it would last me even 3 more years after fixing it I feel like it would be worth it. I realize it’s hard to give advice without seeing the car but any thoughts or advice?

Depends largely on mileage and overall condition.

+1 to auto-owner. What’s the mileage and overall condition?
Also, is it a manual or automatic and what exactly is the transmission doing (or not doing)?

Overall condition is good as far as I know it has 60000 miles on it and it is an automatic. It mostly runs well except that it’s loud and it sort of bucks when you hit like 30mph but then runs well. My dad took it out a few weeks ago and drove it at like 80 on the highway and it was fine, I was stressed out for it, but it ran fine lol

Even with just 60K miles, which is way too soon for a Honda trans to fail, or to need a radiator, or to buck when you hit 30mph, this car may not be worth a $3K repair bill. I’d get a good mechanic to look it over carefully.

@Cieraa, bucking and loud are not transmission issues. It sounds like an exhaust leak and dirty injectors. Neither is unexpected on a 15 yo car. Fix the radiator, also not unexpected at 15 yrs old, and the exhaust leak, then run some Techron in a full tank of gas. Change the trans fluid if it has never been change. But stay away from any flushes. A drain and fill is all you need. A Honda at only 60,000 miles should give you more than 3 years if you catch up all the maintenance and keep fresh fluids in it.

Drive till it dies then Dump it. It is way too far behind the times in safety features, rust potential and other repair problems. I would keep it as a daily driver from 10 years on…15 is too far unless it’s a “classic”…highly unlikely or you lived on an island with limited driving expectation like Cuba.

the car is 15 years old . . . definitely NOT too soon for the radiator to fail

In fact, with an aluminum/plastic radiator, that’s about the age I would expect it to leak, if not sooner

I think it deserves a new radiator

But get a second opinion about that transmission

if it has a timing belt, you’re way overdue if it hasn’t been done yet sort of bucks when you hit like 30mph...

I had an '01 Civic and a seal in the torque converter failed at 48000 miles. The torque converter lock-up clutch wouldn’t engage so rpms were high. It did turn on the check engine light. Is your light on?

With only 60K miles, provided the car was not abused, is in otherwise good condition with no obvious severe rust problems, and has been generally well maintained, you’re probably best of $$-wise to bring all the repairs and routine maintenance up to date and drive it. It should have no trouble lasting another 3 years. My Corolla is 23 years old w/200K miles and still going strong. Mine has a manual transmission though, an automatic, that’s one negative point for your car, which will limit it’s economically viable lifetime. But you may be able to avoid a complete transmission overhaul with proper diagnosis and service at a good transmission shop. It only has 60k on the transmission, so the transmission shouldn’t be completely kaput. Maybe it just needs a solenoid and re-torqueing the valve body.

The radiator I could see and doubt that the transmission is the cause of the bucking. The buck could be any one of a number of things from a vacuum leak to ignition miss to a fuel delivery problem.

You have not stated exactly what diagnosis has been done in an effort to sort this out but if the car has not been scanned you might consider at least dropping by one of the chain type auto parts houses (AutoZone, etc) and let them pull codes if any exist. They will do this for you free of charge.
Their job is to hand you a DTC code if any exist; it is not to diagnose a problem.

For what it’s worth, I repaired a car for someone that exhibited a similar symptom. The car ran like a Swiss watch and would start up fine every time. At speeds between 30-40 MPH there would often be a slight buck in it if a steady speed was maintained in that range. This problem would not occur under 30 MPH or over 40 MPH.
The cause was a corroded coil terminal. Once cleaned of corrosion the buck went away.

This sounds like a case not of “drive it til it dies” but ignore it and KILL it. Many cars get junked because people refuse to repair the things that they know need it. They are either too cheap to spend a dollar to save themselves ten on a new car or they think they are throwing money away. Well, you need a car, right?

This one is far too young. Replace the radiator, change the trans fluid and run a few bottles of Techron through the tank. Check for timing belt replacement. This engine should last well past 200,000 miles IF you treat it to proper maintenance

Thanks so much for your input everyone! It sounds like the consensus is to get it fixed. I had been under the impression it had been taken to a mechanic and given this diagnosis but apparently that wasn’t the case. I’m going to take it in in a couple of weeks and try to get it fixed. Thanks again everyone!

Let us know how you make out. We do care.

I have often had a weird thought that in high school instead of my generation’s home ec for girls and shop for boys, they should have a course on basic household finance and car maintenance. For boys and girls as well.

Mistakes with cars are such a major budget item that it should be taught to all.

I realize some think they should only teach the three R’s, but they already teach a lot of garbage anyway. Might as well make it something practical.

@irlandes I agree! Since cars are such a part of nearly everyone’s life, everyone should at some stage take a car care course. My wife is a highly skilled medical professional, but when we first met she knew little or nothing about cars.

After I went over the rudiments, she took a YWCA course called, at that time, “Powder Puff Mechanics”. (Carolyn, I apologize for that name). She learned a lot of useful things and especially how to handle emergencies, and how to react to those warning lights. Later she took an AAA course in defensive winter driving and how to survive when your car breaks down in a blizzard.

Thanks to those courses we have never had an emergency or a major repair due to inattention or neglect. Three people I know have burned out engines and transmissions because they ignored warnings and/or required maintenance.