Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Update on my restarting old car

Well, I finally am dealing with my 1996 Honda Accord that sat in garage for over 2 years.

See old thread: http://act…ge#2710021

I had AAA electrical service come out to jump it. The guy looked at the battery and laughed, said it was the oldest he’d ever seen (01 stamp). But when he jumped it, the car actually started easily. But then I couldn’t get it in gear, to drive it over to the shop. So I called AAA back for a two to the shop.

Question 1: Given that it wouldn’t go into gear, what does that mean? Some expensive problem?

Question 2: I just want to get it running so I can sell it, maybe to carmax. I want to stop paying insurance and license on it. Am I doing the best-value approach to that? Any suggestions? Before I let it sit, it really did run good, and I owned it since new (151,187 miles). It even has a built in “cell phone” – the old fashioned kind, analogue cell. I called, and they offered me $300-$600. The phone accessorie was $600 when new. Thanks for any ideas.

Auto or manual tranny? If manual, the clutch master cylinder may be low, or the piston may be leaking.

A 96 will not bring much money at Carmax I don’t believe, Within 100 miles of Chicago? I might be interested.

You really need to answer the transmission question before we can offer much help.

The possible reasons a 5-speed won’t go into gear are much different than the possible reasons an automatic won’t go into gear.

I will say this; a '96 Accord in decent condition is worth a lot more than $600, even at 150k+ miles.

Don’t give it away.

Bummer, I’m in San Diego (but that means it hasn’t suffered from weather beating).
Pep Boys is checking out the transmission now. The tow truck driver even sort of expressed interest in buying it, so I figure it is worth something.

“Pep Boys!” Why in the world would you have it towed there?

Get the car out of there ASAP, and take it to an independent mechanic.

Oh, I had hopes for this, but now fear the worst.

I can’t think of a worse place to go with a transmission problem than Pep Boys. The national transmission repair chains are equally bad, but please, Pep Boys? For a transmission problem? Are you nuts?

You really don’t want this car anymore, do you?

Relax. They are just looking at it. If it just needs some fluid – they can do that,
can’t they? The independent mechanic I used to go to is 30 miles away, a hastle to tow to.
There are local mechanics, but I don’t know them, and I’d worry about towing a car into
some shop I don’t know. Now that I know Pep Boys sucks for transmissions, if something
significant needs to be done, perhaps I can move it.

Update: I paid Pep Boys $19 to look at it. They said it probably needs “the hydraulics pumps” replaced, because the hydraulics don’t hold pressure after the long sit. I asked for details, and I think she said specifically three pumps: “the master clutch cylinder, the slave clutch cylinder, and the power steering something.” She quoted about $850 for that plus a new
battery. So I went over to two foreign car mechanics nearby to inquire. The first one was
very difficult to talk to and seemed unable to quote even specifically what they would
charge to check it out. The second one seemed very knowledgeable and easy and seemed to
think it may be what Pep Boys said. (Charlie’s Foreign Car Service, Encinitas) And they’ll
charge me $51 to check it out. So, tomorrow I’m going to have AAA tow it from Pep Boys
to Charlies (I have two more free tows from AAA). Charlie’s also sells cars and was
interested in possibly helping sell mine. So far, however, the money is going in the opposite
direction than I had planned…

Thanks for your advice though.

Like ducks in a shooting gallery…Taking candy from a baby…

On the firewall under the hood you will find a brake and clutch master cylinders sitting next to each other. Buy a can of brake fluid, fill them both up, pump the clutch a few times and see if it will start to act normal, and your “transmission” problem should be cured…I bet it shifts fine when the engine is not running…

“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance will cost you…”

The only thing I will add is that phone accessories and things of that nature (DVD players, multi-disc CD changers, etc.) are just about worthless when figuring what a car is worth.

Yes, it shifts fine when not running, though the clutch pedal had lost back pressure, it just
sort of lay down by the floorboard unless I pulled it back up with my foot underneath it.
Are those two separate cylinders? Brake fluid goes into both?

Yep, 2 separate cylinders, brake fluid goes in each. Before any money is spent you need to have a good mechanic just fill and bleed the clutch master/slave system.

OK, maybe we’re making progress. MORE INFO: I just examined the garage floor where the
car was sitting. And there is a stain of some sort of oily (not water) fluid just front of
the line between the front tires – I imagine the stain is just a bit in front of where
the firewall was. The stain is about the size of a hand with fingers spread out, and still
a little tacky.

Righ ok4450. Especialy analog cell phones. They were great in '96, but about as useful as a tin can and string for calling people other than the Progresso Soup Company today.

Thank you. Now perhaps I know what to ask for. But is it normal for a mechanic to do that
"before any money is spent"? Or would some basic service fee be expected? I appreciate
all the comments here, but given my experiences talking with the servicers I need to know
exactly what to ask for and some sense of roughly what I should pay. Of course if it is only
a matter of pour brake fluid into a cylinder I would do it myself. But the car also will
not start without a jump. Even if a new battery would make it start (hopefully) I still
couldn’t then drive it home to put in the brake fluid, because it is not drive-able.
I don’t want to have it towed to another shop just to repeat the whole thing except with
the higher “diagnostic fee”. So, my plan is to call Charlie’s and say instead that I want
specifically for them to “fill and bleed the clutch master/slave system” and ask them what
that will cost. But then there is still the problem that if “fill and bleed the clutch
master/slave system” would make the car driveable I still have to ask them to tell me if
replacing the battery would really make it operational.

Update and question on values:
The Blue Book values for my model parameters:
private party :: “Fair”=$1,945, “Excellent”=$2,845
trade-in :: “Fair”=$1,025, “Excellent”=$1,775
retail :: “Excellent”=$4,045

Question – are the “private party” values similar to what I would expect for this type
of car? Or is there something special about it, that it might go for more? Looking at the
buy-a-car pages of this site, it looks like people are listing similar model parameters for
a few hundred $ above the Blue Book “retail” price – are those sellers dealers? Are those
prices unrealistic, or might my car go for similar value (if gotten into Excellent condition).

Update: I called Pep Boys and told them not to work on it and that I’d have a tow pick it
up. Then the Pep Boys manager said the mechanic who worked on it might want to buy it.
I talked to him and he wants to research value tonight and make me an offer tomorrow.
So I left the car at Pep Boys for now. If the Blue Book private party value is realistic,
I guess my target price for it as is would be that less the $850 they estimated to get it
running = $1,995.

The tow truck driver also voiced some interest in it, so I figure it has some value.

On the clutch master cylinder, and slave cylinder, I am thinking it probably does need to
be replaced. They said they filled it up but the problem is “it doesn’t hold pressure”.
From talking with the other shops I gathered that replacing those plus the battery would
run to similar cost.

Any thoughts? Apologies for my ignorance on these matters, but we’ve got to start learning
somewhere. Thanks for all comments here.

I should have said “before BIG money is spent”. You’ll need to pay them to fill and bleed the clutch master/slave system, and they may find at that point that one or both are bad.