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ZEPHYRA's avatar

Should I have the car fixed or is it not worth it?

Asked by ZEPHYRA (21629points) September 11th, 2010

I have a 12 year old car that looks quite good on the outside. I have had it repaired many times since I got it just over a year ago. I don’t think the previous owners took much care of it. I drove into a pothole 2 days ago and the damage looks bad. I don’t think I should bother with repairs. There is NO way I can afford a new one right now. I don’t know what to do. If I end up paying more for repairs than the car is worth…..... . Point is that I need a car. I don’t use it to drive around having fun, I need it for work. I feel like going to an emergency room right now(along with all my other problems) and going into surgery to get my heart removed!!!!!! Strange how things spiral out of control when things go wrong. One thing follows the other!!!!

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7 Answers

Ben_Dover's avatar

How much will the repairs from the pothole cost?

If you need a car and can’t afford another car and you have a car, perhaps you should consider repairing it and driving more carefully.

What else is wrong with the car?

Don’t get your heart removed. None of these problems is that major.

Judi's avatar

Where do you live? Motorcycles are a lot cheaper than cars. If you are not in an awful weather place, maybe you can take the money you would have spent on repairs and buy a motorcycle. The insurance is less too. My only vehicle was a little Honda 90 when I was pregnant with my first child.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

The repairs will probably cost just as much if not more than the car is worth. Over the past year I have spent much money on minor and major repairs. My pocket is no bottomless pit!
Motorbike is not an option for a number of reasons.

Brian1946's avatar

If you have auto insurance perhaps that will cover at least some of the repair costs, because a collision with a pot hole might not be considered normal-usage wear.

jerv's avatar

Personally, I have had quite a few cars over the years, most of them purchased for $500 or less (I too am a man of limited means) and I am no stranger to cutting my losses. My rule of thumb is that any used car will cost you at least $1000 in the end, but you cant afford to get too attached to a car otherwise it will bleed you dry.

There are some that are worth fixing up. My current car (an ‘85 Corolla that had 204K miles) was a $300 Craigslist special with four blown struts but nothing else wrong with it other than a slightly leaky sunroof). I put another $500 into it replacing the struts, duct-taped the sunroof shut, and now have an old car with a decent body and strong drivetrain that will probably last me quite a while. Old ‘yotas are tough; my friend tried to kill his and it still ran when he got rid of it a year later! And when my ‘94 Subaru Legacy LSi blew the air suspension’s compressor, it was well worth the $600 to refit the car with normal shocks (though not the $4–5000 it would’ve cost to repair the air suspension).

Then there are those that are disposable. I had an Aerostar I bought for $250 since I needed a vehicle ASAP. A few months later, I had enough money to either fix it or replace it, but it had a laundry list of issues so when the water pump went, I started looking for a replacement car rather than spend the $40 for a new water pump. When the block cracked two months later, I sold it for scrap (I got $100 for it) and bought a used Corsica. I also got rid of a ‘98 Saturn with <90K miles on it after it blew it’s second transmission.

I would talk to your insurance company and see if this qualifies as “collision damage”, but it sounds like you might have a car that is going to nickel and dime you to the poorhouse. Does the car currently run fine otherwise after all of the other repairs? In other words, have you undone the abuse heaped on it by the previous owner(s)? Or is it one of those cars that will still need work even if you get the suspension fixed?

ZEPHYRA's avatar

@jerv yes, I had repaired it previously and it was going smoothly(as well as could be expected)until I drove it into pothole. It was late afternoon, twighlight, I did not know the area and BAM!

jerv's avatar

@ZEPHYRA What sort of estimates have you gotten for repairs anyways?

Suspension damage can be deceptively inexpensive. I thought my Subi was trashed after riding on the bumpstops for four months in the winter and living on a dirt road especially after that time the front end started bouncing literally 2–3 feet in the air one time but it was fine after spending six hours in the shop. I fixed the blown rear shocks on an ‘89 Golf for only $70, and I thought for sure that I damaged my current car after a few transmission-scraping potholes and a lot of tail-smacking over speed bumps and potholes before I got the struts done, yet it’s fine. And replacing a front lower control arm on a ‘92 Taurus after blowing the ball joint was only $160.

The real question here is “What sort of car will it be if you fix it?”. If the engine, transmission, brakes, and body are now good and the repairs run less than you think (I’ve been surprised a few times how cheap they usually are) then it may be worthwhile, especially if the insurance company will pay.

FWIW, I always had my suspension work (and any other work I couldn’t do myself) done by local mechanics that charge $40–60/hr for labor as opposed to an $85–120/hr dealership or national chain. Considering how even something as simple as the rear shocks on an ‘89 Golf (two bolts per shock, no spring compressor needed) can take a few hours, that lower labor rate alone can save you hundreds. And that Subi was repaired using salvaged parts; had I bought new mounts and shocks, it would’ve cost closer to $1000–1200 rather than $600.

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