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To fix or not to fix?

I have a 2002 Honda Civic DX coupe, manual transmission, with 150K on it. I discovered while trying to get it registered here in Massachusetts that it has about $700 worth of problems with the evap system that will prevent it from passing inspection, as well as a leak in the exhaust manifold that will likely cause problems down the road and that was estimated at $1400 to repair. I’ve put a lot of money into this car over the past year, and since I now live in the city and don’t really need it, I’ve decided it’s time to get rid of it.

My question is: What is my best strategy for getting the most out of this vehicle? It’s a reliable, fuel efficient car with no known safety problems. Should I do the $700, immediate fix and then sell? Should I try to sell as-is? I’m hesitant to shovel $2100 into it, since I don’t imagine I’ll be able to get much more than $3000 for it. Is anyone even going to want to buy it given that it’s got that issue hanging over it? It’s a good car and it seems a waste to scrap it for an emissions issue. Are there states with different emissions standards where it could pass inspection?

Any advice would be appreciated.

If you’ve got a year or two before emission testing is required, one option is to do nothing. Just drive it. Many evap and exhaust manifold problems do not in fact cause drivability problems. At that point, donate the car to a charity.

$700 for repairing a problematic evap system seems a tad high. Not outrageous, but more than I’d expect. And likewise, $1400 to replace the exhaust manifold seems a bit too much. Why not make the effort to get a few more bids on these jobs, from some different well-recommended shops? Or another option is to ask your mechanic if there is a cheaper option. Instead of buying new parts for the repairs, for example, could used parts from the local junkyard be tried first? Or could the existing exhaust manifold be re-used, and just the gasket replaced? Could the evap canister be cleaned with compressed air, instead of being replaced? Etc etc.

$700 to fix an evap problem might be explainable

If you have to replace a canister, plus labor and diagnostics, and if the work was done at the dealer, I can see that adding up to $700 real fast

Like George said, find yourself an independent shop (look at the Mechanic’s files here) and get another opinion, and ask about salvaged parts instead of new, if they’re willing to use them.

How much longer do you have before your hand is forced?

One more thing to consider for the OP. In some states – Calif for one – there is a maximum amount that the owner is required to pay for repairs to an emissions problem. As long as all the factory emissions devices remain in place. And it’s considerably less than $1000 I think. If after spending that amount to fix an emissions problem, it remains unfixed, well, you pass anyway. OP should contact the appropriate state agency to see if this applies. If so, maybe just pay the max repair, hope for the best, whether it passes or not, the OP can register the car & go on driving.

Unfortunately, I just moved up from DC, so to get my car registered in-state I have to pass emissions. I have a few more months on my DC inspection, though, so I suppose I could just not register it.

Interesting on the emissions cost cap… not sure if that’s true here in Mass, but it’s worth looking into.

Thanks folks!

While CA has a cost ‘minimum’ to qualify for a waiver, it doesn’t look like a simple process…

Did you try to figure the “maximum expense” thing by looking at the Calif BAR website @Texas? I’ve never been able to figure out anything by looking at that website. It seems to be designed to obfuscate rather than inform. Me, I’ve never failed an emissions test, but I expect what happens is when you fail, with the paperwork you are given the necessary info on the maximum repair fees you are responsible for. Maybe somebody here has actually gone through this process and can explain how it works.

Here’s some info I found: