Zen Penny

Seeking the Path to Financial Nirvana

Automotive Milestone & Crossroad

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My 1992 Honda Accord has reached both a milestone and a crossroad. I purchased it in 2004 from a good friend for a very reasonable price. Before he owned it, it belonged to his grandmother, so I knew the car was very well maintained. Other than having more than my fair share of flat tires, my three years with the car have been relatively trouble free, at least in a maintenance and repair sense.

In March, the odometer hit 200,000 miles. It felt great to drive a car that has been so dependable. I assumed, perhaps naively, that I could squeeze another 50K or even 100K out of it.

About a week ago, I noticed the oil was really low so I decided I might as well change the oil and filters. I try to do the majority of the maintenance and upkeep myself to save a few bucks. (Plus, I am really tired of the shops constantly trying to upsell on stuff your car doesn’t need.) Following the oil change, it was brought to my attention that I had left oil spots up and down the street, wherever I drove. I tightened the plug and the oil filter (which was already covered in oil just a few minutes later) and saw that the dripping had ceased. All well and good I thought.

I thought wrong. when I got home later that night, I noticed a trail of oil leading all the way back to my parking spot. (In fact, my property manager was very quick to assess a $25 fine for it.) Naturally, I didn’t want to assume the worst, so I was thinking that I either had a leaky oil filter or oil pan. I took it to a garage across the street from my apartment to have it checked out.

That’s when I got the news that every car owner fears. It’s much worse than you think and the cost of repairs are going through the roof. The mechanic informs me that there are three major sources for the leak. The cost for repairs will be in excess of $500.

Normally, I’d just go ahead and pay for repairs. But there are a few factors that have left me incapable of making a decision, like a deer in the headlights. First, the car has 200K+ miles on it. It’s reasonable to think that even if I do pay for repairs, something else could go wrong immediately, the transmission for instance. Second, the car recently failed smog. I was in the process of doing a few inexpensive things to improve my chances for passing the retest when this occurred. But let’s say that in order to pass I’ll need hundreds of dollars more worth of repairs. At that point, I could make a decent down payment on another car for what I’ve paid in repairs. Third, there is a possibility that I could get a car for free but it is very iffy at best. My girlfriend’s mom may be moving out of the country and therefore wouldn’t need her car anymore. She is willing to give it to me if she goes. But this is a big “if.”

So for now, my car sits in limbo awaiting a decision. Should I bite the bullet and get it repaired? Should I try a sell it for a few hundred bucks to somebody who is willing to repair it? Or should I just donate it to one of those charities and get the write-off? Stay tuned.


Written by Zenpenny

April 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm

Posted in automotive, maintenance

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