Cars, old and new


That’s the really annoying sound that you’ve heard coming from my front right wheel lately if you’ve ridden in my car. Or it’s the really annoying sound that you haven’t heard because you haven’t ridden in my car. But the common aspect is that it’s really annoying. And, I’ve been told, that means I need to get new brake pads (hopefully) or new brakes. Mind you, I still can stop my car with ease, but the sound really is quite annoying.

Problem is, my car’s pretty old. It’s a 2001 Honda Civic, and while it has caused me very few problems over the years and works well, it’s to the point where any time I spend money on it I have to consider whether the risk coin has flipped. Maybe I put a little money into it and it works well for another few years before its next problem. Or maybe there are tons of things getting ready to go wrong at the 10 year mark and as soon as I get one thing fixed another will show up. So maybe instead of putting money into fixing it, I should put money into selling it and buying a new car. [Ed. note: lowercase “new” will refer to a car I don’t yet own, whereas uppercase “New” will refer to a car that no one has owned]. If so, that opens a few options:

  1. Try to privately sell the car as is. Don’t replace the brakes, don’t do any repairs, just give the car a fresh wash and wax, clean the interior, and see if anyone wants what’s hopefully a good reliable Honda that needs a little work. I guess if I go this way, now’s the time to do it, as kids get ready to go off to college. They may be less concerned with the cosmetic hail problems and be happy to get something that works, even if it needs a little work.
  2. Get the brakes replaced, look for any other repairs that would soon be needed, maybe professionally detail the car, and try to privately sell it. I don’t feel like I’d get a return on my investment here. It’s definitely not going to be worth fixing the various hail dents in the car, and I have a feeling that they are going to be a strong factor in the first impression that people assign to the car’s worth. So I can’t get the car to a “like New” state anyway, and so work I do towards that will be largely cancelled by the overall “slightly beat up” category that people will assign to it.
  3. Bring the car as a trade-in to a dealer. This also seems fraught with peril, since the dealer will be looking primarily to how much money he can make selling the car, and we run into the hail problem again. The curb appeal is going to be a huge factor in the money he can make and thus the money he offers me, and thus I can’t imagine that being too high an amount. That being said, a dealership in Kileen just sent me a letter because they’re supposedly desperate for 2001 Hondas for their lot. I can give them a call and ask how much of a factor the hail will play.
  4. Keep my car around hoping for a late July hailstorm that causes further damage and allows me to make an insurance claim that would end up as a total loss. Not even taking into account how unlikely it is to find hail in July here, the fact that there hasn’t been *any* precipitation this summer makes this one a no-go.

So those are options for dealing with the car. What do I do next?

  1. Buy a New car. I like buying things New rather than used, generally speaking. It means I know all its history, and there’s less a chance that something I don’t know about goes wrong. But it’s expensive. Especially the more I get excited by luxury features like air-conditioned seats.
  2. Buy a used car. Here I have the two-layer problem of a) finding the theoretical car among all makes/models/feature sets that I want, followed by b) finding an actual for-sale car that matches (a) or is close enough to make me happy. Given that one of my “strengths” is being deliberate, i.e. not able to make choices because I spend hours/days/months thinking about all the options, adding this extra layer adds extra paralysis. But if I get through that, I’d hopefully end up with something pretty darn close to what I could hope for from buying a new car, but for significantly cheaper. But without a new car smell :(.
  3. Don’t buy a new car at all. Sarah and I carpool most of the time to work already. For times when we absolutely can’t (or just times when this option seems appealing), I can use my motorcycle to get somewhere at the same time she needs to be somewhere else. I may, with this option, be inspired to trade in my motorcycle for one better designed for comfort, with saddlebags for storage, which is something I’d want to do eventually anyway.

So that’s what’s going through my mind right now. I was going to just bring my car to the brake place yesterday morning, but then I looked up what my car would be worth, and since it was quite a bit lower than I thought, I put that off. Sarah and I are trying a mini experiment where we don’t use my car, to see how hard that would be. And I’ve begun looking at car websites to shop around for what I could want, of course looking at things more luxurious than I should be looking at, but they’re so nice! And praying for hail.

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6 Responses to Cars, old and new

  1. Miriam says:

    Hey, I drive a 2001 Civic and I’m quite happy with it!

  2. Shawn says:

    Get a trade in quote from Carmax. Then go down the road to the ford dealership that will offer 500 more than carmax and sell it. Win.

  3. David says:

    Normally I’d agree not to sink tons of money into a car just before you sell it, but I’m pretty sure brakes might be an exception to that. That said, it wouldn’t really impact the money (pittance) you get from trading in at a dealership.

    Given the average lifetime on hondas still being well over a decade. There is a good chance that your car might last you another 5 years without a large increase in maintenance costs.

  4. Shamama! says:

    You only live once… Get your “New” car!!

    Ok, having that first reaction taken care of, I would have to tell you, as any level-headed parent should, mmm… well… let me think for a second… uuuhh… yes! Fix your sweet little ol’ car and keep it!! AAAAND… get on that motorcycle every chance you get!!

    (And, as you pray for hail, I shall pray for reverse psychology to do what it’s supposed to do…)

  5. car repos says:

    Could you please share the theme that you are using for this blog? It looks quite unique, simple, but attractive. I am looking for somthing just like that.

    • jmendez says:

      The name of the theme is Sliding Door, which you can find info about here. There are some issues (the “about” and password texts are white-on-white), and we had to futz with the php code to avoid having the pictures be links to pages, but it’s overall a pretty nice theme.

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