Accord End-of-Life

July 16th, 2009 by Potato

Well, it looks like my poor maligned Accord is nearing the end of its life.

So far this calendar year I’ve had about $1000 of work done on it: ABS Sensor, $450; Battery, $140; Wheel bearing, $390.

And while fixing the wheel bearing today they found an oil leak around the cam, which will be something like $1100 to repair, and that for some reason my brake rotors aren’t wearing evenly, so they’re suggesting $350 to take them off and re-machine them back flat. This is on top of the non-critical repairs I’ve already been deferring: the oxygen sensor that was acting up a fair bit last year (which prompted the purchase of my scanguage to clear the codes), and the leaky radiator. Actually [touch wood], neither of those have been a problem since the snow melted. I went through about a litre of coolant due to the leak in the radiator in the winter, and rightly figured that such a small leak was worth watching rather than replacing the radiator right away. Now that summer’s here, the leak has stopped completely (thermal expansion sealing something better?). The oxygen sensor tripped the CEL a few times through the winter as well, but always kept working fine after clearing the code, and likewise, hasn’t bothered me since the return of the warm weather. Both of those “pending” repairs have estimates of about $375 from the shop if I need to do them. If we include those I’m looking at $2200 of repairs “soon”, on top of the $1000 I’ve already spent this year.

The wheel bearing pisses me off, though. I had all four wheel bearings replaced between 175 and 200 Mm: they just kept failing, one after the other. At the time the car was 10 years old, I figured that was just life, and at least the new ones would last another ~200 Mm. But I’m not quite at 250 Mm; that’s at most 70,000 km on this wheel bearing, which is kind of disappointing. More worrying is the thought that the other 3 might fail in the next year or two: while the rears weren’t too pricey, the fronts were like $1400 each to replace!

This is all part of having an older car though: it costs money to repair. At some point the repairs get to be too much, and it’s time to replace the car. Exactly when to do that is a bit fuzzy: I’m already at the point now where the (proposed) repairs for the year are more than the car is worth, but the repairs are still not as expensive as the payments on a new car would be, which is further compounded by the fact that a nearly-worthless car is about 1/3 the cost to insure. And it may be naive, but I can always hope that the flurry of repairs could be over for a year or two: after all, the oxygen sensor and the radiator have been going along fine for a year now, and the oil leak isn’t hugely pressing at this moment. And since I’m in the fortunate position of not needing my car, I can afford to just keep driving it until the next repair does crop up. None of what I’m deferring is likely to get very suddenly worse, to the point where I’ll be stuck by the side of the road, but if it does I could wait until I find and purchase a replacement since the car isn’t essential to my every-day life.

Hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze just one more winter driving season out of it… though now I think I know my threshold for calling it quits when the next repair does crop up.

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