Jul 1, 2008

The Law of Murphy

Murphy has come to visit us. Now according to Dave Ramsey, Murphy is supposed to come when you're doing the wrong thing and get you into worse trouble. I thought we were on the road to greatness, but right now we're not really on the road....more off the road and in the hands of an auto repair shop.

Long story short, our Honda Accord died last Thursday. Apparently coolant was not circulating, causing the engine to overheat and either the pistons fused or head cracked. The final decision is that we need a new engine, which so far, on one estimate will run $2500 to $3000. The pessimistic side of things is that we may end up replacing the engine, only to need more major repairs in the next 1-2 years because the car already has about 160K miles on it. I have looked online and found other '96 Accords selling for approx. $3500 to 3900.

So, Brian and I need advice. This is a real WWYD situation. And if your advice is to go out and finance a replacement car, then I ask that you give that advice behind my back, because I'm looking for advice that aligns with our core principles regarding debt. We could come up with close to 5K by the end of July (which would deplete our emergency fund).

So, as I see it, our options are to:

1) Repair our car, figuring this is an Accord and a good car for the most part. Do a good job saving money over the next 1-2 years and plan to replace it with something from this decade before we have another major repair. Also, this may be a good plan knowing that Honda's do not depreciate in value so rapidly, so we may be able to still sell this car in two years for about $2500 (if the rust doesn't have its way).

2) Scrap the car and use our $4-5,000 savings to pick up a '99 or '00 Accord or Civic with a bit less miles and rust. Again, save for a newer car over the next few years, but feel less urgency.

3) Pick up a different used car, other than a Honda, since Honda's are generally expensive. Our main goals are to find something with good gas mileage and fairly trustworthy. If we're only going to have it for a few years, the hope would be we wouldn't have it long enough to run in to major repairs. But then again, it's always a gamble with a used vehicle, so I would want to get something for a good price so that I wouldn't feel too bad if I had to put a few hundred into repairs over the next 1-2 years.



Jacqueline said...

Awww, Angie I am sorry to hear about the car. Of course this happens right when you are celebrating your financial freedom =( Jeff and I just had to put new tires/breaks on both of our cars, so we can relate.

Patty Ann said...

Doesn't this just make you wish there was better public transportation in Michigan?

I guess my decision would be based on the price of the new engine installed. Does the transmission have any problems that could be another major repair?

It seems like quite a few people have good used cars for sale, I might check into that before deciding.

The Outlaw Kyle said...

I have to go with option 3. Don't sink any more money in that Accord. Look around, and see if you can find a car for that price (I did recently, it's slim pickens let me tell you). Hondas are great, but you will have better luck if you cast a wider net. The only other car I saw aside from my Buick that was even close was a 1998 Nissan Sentra GLX, 34k miles, for around $4k. I passed on it because it was a 5pd and I'm not so good with manuals. But that was the best small car I found for that money.

I got a Buick LeSaber in the end. Yes, I'm an old man, what's it to you!!

Anonymous said...

Angie, You could call around to see if you could get a used engine somewhere which would reduce your outflow of funds. I wouldn't get a brand new engine. If you decide to get another used car I would stongly condider a used Toyota Camry or Carolla. Trust me. I used to sell cars. Linda

Meagank7 said...

Linda is right, you can look online for a used engine, my friend found me a used transmission online that only ran me $300, as opposed to about $1000 for a new one.

also, don't know how much dad's Jetta was but that thing gets like 50 mpg...

Angie said...

Thanks for the advice. We are starting to look at different cars now. Linda, we took your advice and are checking out the Toyotas as well as the Mazda Protege. Brian isn't fond of the Mazda 626 for whatever reason.
I priced out a used engine for sure, but would rather use the shops recommended vendor than use Ebay because I wouldn't be sure about the testing and quality of it. Sort of a scary thing.

mamie said...

The Mazda is a great car that amazingly doesn't rust! Remember my MX6?? It was a beautiful car until I totalled it, but Mazda repairs can be costly. Keep that in mind.

I agree with Outlaw, cast out that net farther. There's got to be something out there as it's a buyers market everywhere.

I also agree with Patty Ann. Michigan should have invested in better public transportation years ago. I know how much Brian loved the trains in Chi-town. What a dream they'd be to Michigan commuters right now! I know I'd use it to get me back and forth to work.

Hang in there. Remember the "grandma" funds too. Don't rely on the "big guys" hesitance. Just come out and ask!

Rachael said...

My brother had to replace his engine in his jeep and he got a used one and got a decent deal on it. you can call around to local junkyards. Someone may have crashed their accord without damaging their engine. Just a little forewarning, Steve just bought a car and the picking out there for small and economical and reliable cars is slim...don't get me wrong, they are out there, but you can't be too picky, i guess. I am also in your shoes trying to get out of school loan debt and as much money as it sounds, i'd probably replace the engine and go with your 1st choice. you've been the driver for so long, you know your car....it's so risky getting a used car unless it's certified and that usually costs more. I bet your little honda gets another 50k miles to it! hondas are built to last. I love my honda but also used to have a mazda protege ('88 baby!) and I had great luck with that car too. if you think you really might want to get into something different-- check out edmunds.com this one of the best car car info sites out there for new and used as well as consumer and editor picks.

Kim said...

That stinks. Are you finding a lot of used cars right now? Honda keeps mailing me postcards begging me to trade in my car for a $5,000 bonus--apparently there is more demand for used cars now than there is supply.

David said...

I would get a horse.

Amber said...

Angie-- What other sorts of repairs have you done on the Honda already?? Those cars can last forever!!! If the muffler is in good condition and it is not too rusty, it might be worth keeping if you can get an engine...???