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Worth keeping?

Hi! I have a 1993 Honda Del Sol and I’ve had it for 2 years now. Its got about 160000 miles on it. It recently failed the smog test due to high output levels and I took it to the mechanic and theynsaid it needs a Catalytic Convertor. They also suggested a new engine which totalling parts and labor costs $3500 dollars. They said there are some other issues but none are pressing. Now the car only took $35-50 of gas per 2 weeks of driving back and I drove that car every day. So looking at that its worth it to me considering I spend $20-$30 dollars a week using public transportation. I LOVE my car but I wonder is it worth it to keep it? My parents say yes but Idk. Also since I just recently moved it will be driven in San Francisco and my car doesn’t like high elevations.

What do you mean by high elevations? There are no high elevations in SF. Anyway, it is not worth keeping. You can buy a car for $3500 that will likely last longer than your car repaired. Remember that you will still have the old transmission, suspension, and cooling system. Since you live in SF, you can take your time finding a replacement. You might find that you don’t need a car.


The cost of the repair exceeds the car’s value

I know you love your car, but it’s not very practical, at least not in my opinion

Can you post the smog results?

A bad cat is usually the symptom of something else . . . blown head gasket, misfire, leaking injector, high oil consumption, etc.

If you were to install a new cat, and I’m NOT recommending it, I’d want to be 100% sure that the root cause of the bad cat is remedied first

Here’s another thing to consider . . . since you live in California, I believe ANY cat for you has to be CARB certified, which eliminates many, or most, of the afermarket cats out there.

As far as I know

Time to upgrade from a 20 year old car.

Those Honda Del Sols are pretty cool looking cars in my opinion. I’d be inclined to keep it, as you’ll not find anything near as cool looking for the price it will take to fix it. Economically, if you are satisfied trading it in for a 2003 Corolla, that would probably save you money and still get you back on the road. But you wouldn’t have as cool a car. Life is a compromise I guess.

p.s. consider to get a second opinion on the need for an engine replacement if you are at all uncertain about that or don’t have much prior experience with this shop.

Failed emissions so you need an engine? Wow, that’s a pretty serious emissions failure. I think if the catalyst is the source of the emissions failure perhaps an engine that is burning a little oil is to blame for the failed catalyst.

What’s the previous maintenance history and how does the car run? I think a DelSol would be a good car for living in SFO. Small, easy to park, generally reliable and fun to drive. I would seek a second opinion, perhaps replacing the catalyst will get you through emissions for the next few years and you can continue driving the car.

I wonder if the mechanic that looked at your Del Sol secretly wants your car and is scheming for a way to buy it. I think asemaster has a good suggestion in getting a second opinion. I would gamble on taking the car to an independent exhaust shop and having the catalytic converter replaced and see what happens.

Hard to get a cheap cat in CA.

Thank you for all the replies, my car has been driven mostly in livermore and my car doesnt like going up hills, its makes this straining sound. Im the second owner for this car the previous owners bought it when it was brand new. Oddly enough theres just regular maintnance for the car theres nothing big. I looked up the maintnance history so maybe rhey had work done on the side? The people who drove it before me just drove it for leisure. My reading HC (max should be M1 87 and M2 43) reported M1 at 15 mph 192 M2 at 25 mph 136. CO M1 1.27 M2 0.91 Max should have been M1 at 0.39 and M2 at 0.55. HO M1 1956 M2 1109 Max should have been M1 720 and 774. Passed visual inspection and functionality test but failed ASM emission test. My brother took it for a second opinion and the said it needs a new catalytic convertor for sure but the engine can wait.

It was running really good till about 3 months before the smog test, the mechanic had to do some work on the engine because something had broken in it but they didnt catch that the engine had to be replaced which to me sounded suspecious. They said that oil was leaking in the engine. Thats the only big maintanance. Aside from that I had to get an alarm system because people kept hitting my car and taking off.

Juliana, personally I’d go for the new cat. I don’t think you need a new engine at all.

If you decide not to fix it, put it on ebay and sell it to someone outside of California where they don’t do smog testing. Be honest about the need for a new catalytic converter (in California). Those little Del Sols have a following. It will sell if you don’t ask for too much.

I disagree with the diagnosis. Your running rich, which means your O2 sensor is not working right. This is throwing off all the other numbers. With the car running rich, the cat is starving for oxygen to convert CO, and that number goes high.

Replace the O2 sensor first. I’ll bet all the numbers go down.

I’d do the cat too, then make sure everything else is working correctly, especially the O2 sensor. In 93, the O2 sensor was not monitored by the CPU (at least not like it is with OBD II) so it must be tested with a voltmeter. If the O2 sensor is defective, the engine can run rich. When it runs rich, it washes down the cylinder walls increasing oil consumption and it continues to burn down the exhaust manifold into the cat and can cause “cat meltdown”.

Cat meltdown is where the leading edges of the honeycomb melts down and starts to plug up the cat. That causes a noticeable lack of power going up hills and at higher speeds.

You might need new spark plugs too if they haven’t been changed in the last 30k miles. In fact, if the plugs are over 30k, I’d start there first, then the O2 sensor and finally the cat as needed.

Yes, the engine may be running rich, and that needs to be addressed before considering to replace the cat. If not, the new cat may be quickly ruined. Also, I don’t think a new cat will address the higher than allowed NO emissions (you wrote HO, but I think you meant NO). The NO’s are controlled by the EGR, not the cat.

Here’s what I’d do if it were my car. Assuming a visual inspection didn’t show anything obviously wrong, like spark plug wire insulation cracking, vacuum hoses splitting or connected to the wrong ports.

  • New engine air filter, new spark plugs, set/check ignition timing, and change the oil & filter.
  • While the spark plugs are out, get a reading on the compression situation.
  • Check EGR. Under test-applied vacuum at idle, it should stall the engine.
  • Check/adjust valve clearances.
  • Clamp each ECM air source – one by one – to intake manifold (idle up vacuum switches, AC vacuum switches, etc); likewise with the power steering vacuum switch. If clamping reduces idle speed, the vsd needs replacement.
  • Fuel pressure test.
  • Google “How to Pass a California Emissions Test” and follow those common sense techniques there, you do just prior to the test, to improve your chances.

If after all that, the mechanic still thinks it needs a new cat, it probably does, and the cat will probably bring you back into compliance.

High HC is often due to excessive oil consumption

“They said that oil was leaking in the engine” = sounds like they mean oil consumption

If this is the case, installing a new cat will buy some time, but it may not last, unless the cause of the oil consumption is remedied

“like going up hills” = sounds like the cat may in fact be partially plugged

Okay thank you!


I didn’t mean to sound so negative, if that’s how it came across

I’m just interpreting the information I have read

Good luck, in any case!

Agreed with db4690. A worn engine and oil consumption is how I read it also.

I have a hard time seeing how it is worth making all these repairs when the transmission or suspension might need work soon too. Since you live in Cali, you might find an older, low mileage car in excellent condition for a good price.

OP , I’m pretty sure Calif has a dollar limit on how much the owner will have to pay to repair an emissions problem. Be sure to investigate that by phoning up the Bureau of Auto Repair. If the shop can’t fix the cause after spending that amount of money, the car automatically gets a pass.