Been having real trouble with this decision, and really don’t know what’s best. Any guidance much appreciated.
We have a 1989 Toyota Corolla, manual, with 189k miles on it. The timing belt was changed around 179k miles. The clutch has, I think, never been done and I think I am very easy on clutches. It runs very well, the frame is good, but will not pass inspection in my state without something like $800 worth of repairs. It has some significant body rust around the wheels and part of the trunk is rusted out (which will need to be patched to pass inspection). Last year I put about $800 into repairs, and each year is around there, probably, though I haven’t strictly added it up yet. I live in a rust-intense area in the Northeast US. The car has an ice cold AC from a 2 yr old compressor repair, new front struts, new alternator, exhaust work, etc. But the stereo is an original tape deck and it and the speakers make it just about unusable, it’s a little drafty/moist inside in winter, and a bit tinny feeling to drive. But it’s also our old friend. The mechanic just said today that he would expect two more years of driving out of it, but that struck me as a bit of a guess. We have been averaging 6000 miles a year on it, though that may increase a little this year, but not much.
I have a friend selling a 2004 Toyota Camry, automatic, with 147k miles on it, for $4,000, which is about the KBB value online. The car is in, it seems to me, excellent shape. She is about 70 and has been the sole owner and took it in for repairs at the slightest sound. Her mechanic spoke at length with me and says the car is in great shape indeed. It has zero visible rust on the exterior, though underneath some very minor surface rust on the metal but that’s only to be expected out here. The body/paint shines like new. If we were to buy it, the plan would be to drive it for as many years as we possibly could–we hate having to go through the headache of deciding on what car to buy and doing it. 10 years+ would be ideal (we have had the Corolla for 11 years).
I’m wondering what to do. I could also keep looking for another used car around here but this area is really bad for that, since the population density is so low and so many pickup trucks, etc. (not an area for Japanese passenger cars, really).
I’m super cheap, and want to do what’s best for our finances, both in terms of repairs, purchase price, and gas costs, but a distant second would be minimizing repair headaches, driving more enjoyably, etc. The Camry would be the more comfortable car for sure, mainly for the drivability and the better stereo (though i could put a $200 stereo in my Corolla, but haven’t since I keep wondering how long it will last…have done that for 11 years!). We have the money to do either choice in cash without any concerns other than spending money unwisely.
Also, both my wife and I prefer to drive sticks. We find it more fun to drive, she’s more used to it, and we figure we’d avoid automatic transmission repair costs, which I am under the impression are super expensive. But it is not a major factor.
Anyway, what should I think about in deciding this? What would you do, and why? THANKS!