Time to let go?

Dear Car Talk Community:

I have a ?95 Acura Integra with ~101K miles. I recently brought the car in for an alignment after it was hit (nudged?) by a U-Haul while parked on the street. During the alignment process I was told that I should replace the rear trailing arm bushings because they have worn out. A few weeks before, during an oil change, I was told that the timing belt needs to be replaced again, the right front wheel bearings need to be adjusted (replaced?), and both front brakes could use new pads. I haven?t done any of these recommended fixes yet.

Additionally, last week, after some torrential downpours, I found a small lake around the spare tire in the trunk. This week, after more rain, I found water on the back seats and floor. I think a leaky sunroof might be to blame but I?m really not sure where the water is coming in (it?s not obvious). Also, since the car has been parked on the streets of sunny/foggy San Francisco for many years, the paint is not so shiny anymore. What looks like the beginning of rust spots are emerging on the hood. The tires are as of about 60K (but still have tread per guy as shop).

Before now it had been a really good car. I replaced the timing belt plus the water pump and a couple of other belts back in July of 2002 when the car had 53K miles on it. The rear brake pads were also replaced at that time. Other than that I?ve only had to fix a leaky oil pan and have the AC recharged (both at around 80K). The car?s last full service was a ?90K service? at 80K at the dealership. The car has been in no accidents other than the nudge mentioned above, and the oil has been changed regularly every 3-5K.

So, although my car has relatively low mileage, given its age I?m guessing this isn?t the end of the maintenance issues. I?m the cheap but practical type, which means I?m not eager to spend lots of money on a new car but I also don?t want to spend every week with the mechanic. So I?m wondering, is it time to put this car out to pasture? If so, how much should I deduct from the price of the car for the repair issues mentioned above?

Thanks for any thoughts on this.

Seems like mostly maintenance,
replace the rear trailing arm bushings- that happens after 10+ years, shouldn’t be big $
timing belt- maintenance
brake pads - maintenance
front wheel bearings - find out the $$, hopefully not too much
water leakage - hopefully a plugged sunroof drain, shouldn’t be too much $
It’ll be way less $$ to do these then buy a new car, and it should be good for quite a lot more miles.

That said, trading in a 15 year old car makes sense if your needs have changed, reliability is extremely important, or you’re just ready and able to move on.

Thanks very much for the input. I really appreciate it.
I was quoted:
$500 for rear trailing arm bushings
$600 for timing belt
$250 breaks
$150-$350 right front wheel bearings (depends on extent of issue, I guess)
?? water leak - don’t know yet

Those prices seem pretty reasonable for CA.

Maintenance is an ongoing, proactive part of car ownership. In other words, it needs to be done anyway and shouldn’t come as a surprise when appropriate things wear out.

Good luck with getting her going again.

I see what you guys mean about maintenance. Aside from the leak issue, I guess most of the items on my list would fall under standard car maintenance. Now I just need to decide if I want to put $1500-$2000 into this car or if I would rather put that towards a new car that wouldn’t require much maintenance for several years (at least at the rate I drive). Thanks for the input.

Hey time do you live in the bay area? I see what you mean about not driving much if so.

I live in San Francisco and work from home, so, generally, I only use my car on weekends.

I’m not a car person. I bought my Acura because I had heard how reliable they were, and it has been a very reliable car. Now, though, at 15 years, I’m just concerned it will be one thing after the other, and I don’t want to be at the garage every other month.

Zipcar spots are near me here, so I think I’m going to do that for a bit while I try to decide about a new car.

The only real issue is getting the leak figured out. It could be the drain tube that carries the water away from the sunroof is clogged. The other items are maintenance. For a 15 year old car you’ve done very well, but there will likely be more things going wrong more often just due to the age.

The zip car thing might be perfect for you. If you need to buy another car you might consider a rental car being sold buy companies like Hertz, or a high mileage car used by a sales rep that is only a few year old. Since you drive so few miles a 3 year old corporate leased car with 60K miles might get you in a nice car at a low price.

Your Acura should fetch a decent price, you might consider getting it cleaned up and detailed before you put it on the market. It would be a great car for a teen driver.

The Kelley private party value is ~$2600 (mid point of good/fair). Then minus ~$1500 for the maintenance? So sell for about ~1000?

That said, everything offered on Cars.com was more than this, even before the deduction for maintenance. Am I starting too low? Or are the prices on Cars.com just wish prices?

I’d figure out the asking price on Car.com for your year and miles, then deduct $1,000 for repairs. Disclose them to potential buyers, and be willing to negotiate. These are popular cars with the tuner set, so you might get a good price for it.

This car is at the age where it’s normal to spend $1-2000 a year on upkeep if you’re paying a shop to do everything.
Would be a lot less if ~75% of it was done DIY.

Personal economics is also a serious factor in such decisions. If you have to take out a large loan for another car, ask yourself what will happen if your income drops to zero as has happened to many people recently. If in the worst possible case, your new car is repo-ed, you would be in a major hurt.

Only you can make such a decision.

If you can write a check, then why not?