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Some car advice needed
Old 09-22-2013, 02:57 PM   #1
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Some car advice needed

Hello folks,

We are currently a one car family, 2006 Nissan Sentra 1.8S It is clocking 90K on odometer. We bought it used for about $9,000 in 2009, when it had 76K on odometer.

Since then we have replaced serpentine belt, tires, AC, some wire that connects to brake pads totaling about $3000. Last time we did state inspection, the guy gave us a list of things, we will have to change in near future, suspensions were one of those costing about $2000.

Our car was in crash where DW hit a utility pole and it fell across the car. The body, headlights were damaged but the engine was fine, so StateFarm did not total the car but spent about $6K to fix it. We paid $500 (deductible)

The current value of the car is about $5K (because of the crash), otherwise the car is well maintained.

My question to all experienced folks is, is it advisable to spend $2K on a car worth $5K to keep it running? There is a good chance that in near future, it will call for more repairs like battery, brake pads and other stuff that we have no idea of. In ideal situation, I would like to take the car to the grave but I find it difficult to make a decision.
Any advice in this regard is welcome.

P.S. - By end of the year, we are going to buy 2011 CR-V, budget ~$20K, but then we do need 2 cars now.

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Old 09-22-2013, 02:59 PM   #2
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Much of what you replaced is just maintenance on an older car. Is the car safe? Does it run reliably (not dumping you on the side of the road)? If yes, do the work. Its still cheaper than a car payment and the sale would be somewhat painful because of the accident.

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Old 09-22-2013, 03:11 PM   #3
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Make sure if you are replacing suspension parts that there is not something else there. Particularly damage left over from the accident.

Otherwise I would think you're happy enough with the car, there's not too many miles on it, it should be OK to fix it and keep it as long as you want.

We're in somewhat the same situation. About $2000 to fix the driver's side window lift and replace the airbag electronics. Car is worth about $5k. However, we want to get rid of it within a year or so since it's just our extra car for the kids. I'm thinking we probably won't recover the cost of the repairs. On the other hand, we may just have to give it to charity. Who wants a car with a driver's window that won't open and an airbag idiot light that's always on? We'll have to work the numbers, but it may just be a wash.
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:42 PM   #4
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Your price quotes seem high to me. You can get a set of 4 tires from tirerack for$250

Drive belts should be around $100. Use an independent shop ( or DIY ) instead of a dealer.

Here's a link for estimates. Also check the online forums for nissans

Auto Repair - Diagnostics, Estimates, Guides, Shops & Mechanics | AutoMD
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Old 09-22-2013, 03:51 PM   #5
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My experience is that most mechanics overstate the work needed to pass inspection and try to get car owners to pay for unnecessary work.

You might go to other places to get your car inspected. I have even said, "I want my car to pass inspection, but I don't care if it runs perfectly or even for another 6 months." Yet my cars are still running years later without all the suggested work.
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by brewer12345 View Post
Much of what you replaced is just maintenance on an older car.
You can call it repair or replacement, but these things are to be expected.
Some cars have peculiar quirks that require more frequent attention than others, but generally speaking the items you mentioned are pretty normal stuff.
I would say fix things as needed and follow your desire to drive the car into its grave.
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Old 09-22-2013, 04:34 PM   #7
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I would keep it since you drive so few miles per year - 14,000 in 4 years? Especially with the new car as a back-up.
New suspension probably means 4 new Mcpherson struts. At 90,000 miles I would get a 2'nd opinion. The rest is just regular maintenance needed on any car.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:02 PM   #8
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I've got a 2010 Toyota Camry, and it already has 96000 miles on it. I have replaced a set of tires ($700) and the battery ($100). I now have a clunking noise in the front end, and am fairly sure it needs new CV joints/bushings/boots. That said, the tires & battery, plus my very regular oil changes (synthetic oil) are routine maintenance and cannot be counted as any kind of abnormal expense. If you own a car, you will have to do those things. Likewise for brake pads/shoes/parts. The only alternative to those things regularly are to use public transportation or ride a bike. As for the CV joints, I'm a little surprised that I am having to do that this soon...but then I remember that even though my car is only a 2010 model, I have put nearly 100,000 miles on it in a fairly short time, and anything mechanical is going to wear out & need replacing. Just the cost of doing business (driving).
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:25 PM   #9
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I agree to keep it. And that it is worth fixing, mostly because you know this car, and you know the maintenance, and it is actually worth more to you than the stated value, as I look at things.

We once spent $1k on an expensive welding job on a $2500 car with about 175k miles on it, reasoning that we couldn't buy the same car for $1k. That may sound convoluted, but essentially if the car is running pretty good besides, like Brewer said, I'd keep it.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:33 PM   #10
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I say keep it, and get a second opinion (or at least a better explanation) on the suspension repairs.
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Old 09-22-2013, 05:58 PM   #11
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A local trusted garage is the first, and most important thing IMO.
We all need advice from someone who can be trusted. If the local guy is worth his reputation, he'll do the needed work, or direct you back to the dealer, if it's a repair that our of his normal capabilities.
I know it's not fair, but I just don't trust the authorized seller/dealers.

My next door neighbor (age 84) bought a brand new 2011 Lincoln MKZ, two years ago. she now has 4,000 miles on the car, and has had the oil changed four times a year since purchase @ $60/change... because the dealer said it was recommended. Also, last winter, after her battery ran down becuse she hadn't used the car for two month... I charged it up and did a load test on the battery and it was fine... when she went for her oil change and told them about the battery they nabbed her for a new one @ $90... didn't even check the other one out.

Same dealer 4 years ago told me @90K miles that I needed new front end for my 98 Lincoln as well as air shocks replacement in the back... plus a few more things totalling over $4K... 23,000 miles later, another garage did an inspection, and found no problems, except a little lube on the tie rod ends.

Yeah.. I know his isn't every dealer, but I get the same kind of overcharges from the dealer.. my 96 Cadillac... $500 to put a splice on a leaky brake line. My dumb.

For anyone with moderate knowledge about cars, almost every make will have an online forum, with Q & A's and a lot of guys who can give answers, and tips... The best way to find a forum for your make and model is to simply google Lincoln forums, or Kia forums, or maybe Mazda owners forum, or BMW enthusiasts forum...

A good example... my Cadillac SLS OBDC (onboard diagnostic center) was throwing transmission codes and "check engine". On the forum, I found that this was a common error signal from the torque converter that was a known electronic problem, but has no effect on the operation. Tranmission repair for the sending unit? $4000, but unecessary.

The forums not only help with diagnostics, but the mechanics and owners who blog on the forums, can usually give a good idea about reasonable costs, and for iffy questions, guidance on safety etc.
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Old 09-22-2013, 06:38 PM   #12
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+1 on finding a TRUSTWORTHY mechanic. Your opinion of "running good" may be not be enough. Their best honest advice can help you decide to fix up your car... or dump it before it becomes a money pit with repeated 'unanticipated' repairs. Over the years I've seen too many relatives fall into the "just 1 more repair" trap.
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:47 AM   #13
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Another vote on finding the trustworthy shop. The one we go to is not the cheapest around (and far from the most expensive) but he's honest and that quality has huge value to me.

DW's Buick is at 169k miles now. We put $1,600 into it last winter but most of that was normal maintenance items, including the third set of tires. The unplanned-for item was a new radiator at $500.

So you see where I'm going.... Keep your current car.
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Old 09-23-2013, 07:43 AM   #14
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A good resource for finding a trustworthy repair facility:
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:17 AM   #15
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Hope you find that trusted mechanic. When you do, ask him who he would recommend for A/C repair (if not his shop). That's where a lot of rip-offs come into play also.
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:20 AM   #16
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I went through a similar exercise with my old car recently. My car was in worst shape (leaking oil - $3000 estimated repair, transmission going bad again) so I ended buying a used car with about 10k miles on it. However, if I could have fixed the old car at a good cost and know that it'll not have another new problem soon, I would have got it repaired.

That said, I'm happy with my 10k mile used car now.

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