Advice wanted - Should it stay or should it go?

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I think my '93 Accord is cursed! Up until the start of this year, it had been rock solid with very few non-routine problems. But since the start of
the year, it has experienced a handful of silly and/or annoying problems. They include:
- Bent shock sleeve causing an annoying squeak over the slightest bumps; - Stiff climate control slider switch (I may have posted about this issue here); panel was replaced with a used one; - Hood release cable broke; - Clogged fuel filter; - Muffler, catalytic converter, and some other exhaust parts replaced due to years of corrosion--not to mention loudness under acceleration; - Left front upper control arm replaced due to play in the ball joint.
The first 4 items were minor in severity and cost, but the last 2 items set me back considerably more financially. And now, some more issues have just popped up:
1. When the control arm was replaced a couple weeks ago, my mechanic suggested that the EGR ports be cleaned. OK, I have no problem in getting that done, about an hour of labour. I had felt for some time that the car had been slightly "missing" at times (in fact, I had previously thought it was the tires).
2. This started a few days ago... I have been noticing gas fumes both in and out of the car but it's not always there. It's most evident upon starting the car (cold or warm) and just after it has been turned off, although sometimes it could be detected while driving. I checked for leaks underneath and there were none. In fact, the tank and fuel lines were replaced a few years ago. Would something else cause a non-liquid leak?
3. This started yesterday... the car is once again very loud under acceleration (louder than before the muffler, cat, etc. were replaced). I don't remember what other parts were replaced before besides the muffler and cat, but could there be some other part on the exhaust that would need replacing? I saw something on Tegger's site about an "A-pipe" that is known to cause buzzing, but I do not know if that was ever replaced.
4. Finally, my mechanic (who has always been honest and has done good work on my car) advised me that the radiator will likely need to be replaced by next spring.
I have already spent $1700 (CDN) on maintenance this year (above issues and some regular maintenance). But with more money about to be spent on these new issues (radiator will wait for now), I am now wondering if this is the time to consider a newer car. I know that what I have spent so far this year averaged over 12 months is still lower than monthly car payments, but there's no way of telling what will go wrong next and how much more I will have to spend. And I would prefer to spend less time at the mechanic than I have been this year.
Then again, even though the car has only 241,000km (~ 150,000 miles), for a car of this age to live through all those harsh winters and numerous trips over ridiculously rough roads, I suppose it doesn't owe me a thing. :-)
So what do you think I should do? Should I keep it and maintain hope that next year will be better? Or should I start looking for something newer?
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It's never going to get "better"...
--
Larry J. - Remove spamtrap in ALLCAPS to e-mail

"I've come here to enjoy nature. Don't talk to me
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

Just put a pencil to paper and lay out the pros 'n cons.
What condition is the basic drive train?
What condition is the body structure in?
Is the cosmetic appearance satisfactory (to you)?
Condition of Brakes, Electrical System??
Cost of a new car vs. continued maintenance should be a fairly easy decision.
I tend to keep the old because I know what's in it, what I can work on myself vs the almost total automation of a new unit of which you'll be at the mercy of the dealer's service department.
Remember, these days, new doesn't necessarily mean less. Because of complexity, certain service intervals can be costly vs the simpler days of yesteryear...
JT
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Waiving the right to remain silent, Grumpy AuContraire

Yeah, the good old days when oil needed to be changed every 3,000 miles, points, plugs and grease points every 12,000 miles, brakes every 20,000 miles, tires every 30,000 miles, etc., etc.
I was there. Unless you wanted to be a weekend mechanic, it really wasn't that much fun...
--
Larry J. - Remove spamtrap in ALLCAPS to e-mail

"I've come here to enjoy nature. Don't talk to me
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Larry in AZ wrote:

Which goes to show how helpless you've become.
You still should change dino oil every 5K max and those other things that are no longer maintainable like electronic ignition will leave you at the side of the road.
As an aside, I always got 40-50K out of a set of points and plugs and nearly that with brakes. I still drive one old car on a regular basis and the plugs, points etc are over five years old and it has NEVER failed to start.
JT
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If you have a good job, just get a new car. The car shouldn't be making exhaust noises, just after the cat and muffler were replaced. If this is indeed exhaust, it is a sign of shoddy workmanship. I can't hear it, but parts installed wrong, a clamp loosened up or a hanger that should have been replaced are likely suspects. A car this old should go through a couple of years of nearly constant repairs, then it should be good for another ten, if you get everything in this round. Taxes are likely lower than a new car, and you are not making car payments. This is a good type of a car for people on a budget, IF they can fix things themselves, or at least perform some level of diagnosis. If you are at the tender mercies of a mechanic, the math is unfavorable for keeping it.
Earle

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Everyone else posted good points about cost. Here are some other things you can do, or think about. Have your mechanic or another mechanic/dealership do a once over on the entire car, and see what else may need attention soon. You can go through your old records and see what has/hasn't already been done.
On top of the costs think about the time and inconvenience of taking the car to the shop and the possibility it can have a major break down when you're driving. Then think of the costs of a new/another used car, the payments unless you're fortunate enough to pay off in full. With a new car, you'll get peace of mind and knowing everything is new and *should* work fine. Also the warranty. With a new car you could be making monthly payments on something that would still depreciate but still hold more value. With a used car, there are no monthly payments but constant maintenance going into a car that is worth very little.
I was in a similar situation and every time I turned around there was another unexpected problem that cost more $$$ than expected. Was finally talked into buying new - tell ya what. The peace of mind of a reliable car and not worrying about unusual maintenance, at least for a long time, was worth it!
You'll need to check your circumstances and crunch the numbers to see if it's worth it to you. If you decide to buy new and don't need to dump big change into your car right away, you'll have the advantage of TIME while shopping for another car which will give negotiating power to you.
I'm not telling you to buy a newer car, or to fix your current one. Just something to think about..
Good luck! -Dave
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

It all depends on your finances and your personal priorities. 13 years in Canadian conditions is a lot IMO. You are at a point where things might keep going wrong once every few months or you might get long periods without trouble.
If you can afford the peace of mind of a newer car I would say that it is time, but really only you can answer those questions.
John
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

    Regarding #2 Fuel smell is probably the fuel line joint where it transitions from metal to rubber on the left side of the tank. Take a close look, and may be an easy fix. Cut out the old joint and put in a small length of hose with two clamps.
    About #3 Exhaust might be leaking at the flexible joint on the front pipe. If it is, go to the home center and get a piece of galvanized heat duct 24' long, and cut it to the right length and wrap it around the flex area. Use three stainless steel worm drive clamps to hold it tight. This repair will out last the car.
    And #4 Radiator is easy, but will cost some money. I have done three on my '92, and the last one was free because the one I found had a lifetime guarantee.
    I am just now struggling with the same questions about my good old '92 LX. Rust is BAD behind the rear bumper front attach points just aft of the rear wheels. Large holes there. This is after a gas tank and cat replacement this year. The windshield is cracked too, from rust at the upper left roof seam.     I plan to keep going till the doors fall off because with 235,000 miles on it, it is only valuable to me. That is UNLESS I can find a rust free White two door coupe that needs an engine! bob
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N.E.Ohio Bob wrote:

Thanks for this info. In response to somebody else who referred to me being too dependent on the mechanic, I would do my own maintenance if I wasn't so clumsy with my hands. Not to mention that I have neither time nor space to do much of it myself.

Surprisingly, my Accord has only minimal rust on the body, less than many other 4th-gen Accords around here.
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"N.E.Ohio Bob" wrote:

You bring up a good point regarding putting a good drive train into a rust free body. If I were the original poster, I would look for a rust free body from Texas, Arizona or southern California that might be drivable to his location.
JT
(Who will be putting a rust free '82 Civic on eBay soon...<g>)
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Grumpy AuContraire wrote:

The engine and tranny in my Accord are all original and working great. But I am in Canada, so there may be complications in getting a rust-free body up from the U.S. south.
Update: The loud exhaust note became even louder today (it's loud enough to make a ricer proud), and fuel is now leaking ever so slightly from underneath (near the front of the left rear tire). I'm going to get those problems fixed tomorrow, even if it means going to any mechanic and getting cheap (i.e. short-term) parts.
And then it looks like I will be looking for a newer car. *sigh*
Thanks for the responses.
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I bet the loud exhaust note is loose hardware that is backing off. The most likely location is at the collector flange, where the exhaust manifold connects to the pipe. Since the exhaust work was just done, the mechanic who did it should get first whack at making it right.
Otherwise... my favorite test technique (if you have a shop vac available) is to start with a cold engine. Be sure the shop vac is empty and fit the hose on the exhaust, then run the shop vac a minute to blow any loose grit out. Duct tape the hose to the exhaust pipe and turn the shop vac on again. Feel around the exhaust for the stream of air - it will be obvious when you find it.
It would be good to get that taken care of quickly before the exhaust ruins something. If it's the collector, the gasket is probably torched already. Good thing they are cheap.
Mike
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Michael Pardee wrote:

Update: The exhaust note resulted from a pair of holes in what the mechanic referred to as a "front exhaust pipe". Not sure if this is the pipe you are referring to, but it's the one that extends from the cat toward the front of the car (this was not replaced when I had the muffler and cat replaced). This set me back another $220.
Concerning the gas fumes, perhaps that was not fuel I saw on the ground yesterday because nothing is leaking from underneath now. But the fumes still remain.
My father suggested to wait until next spring to get a newer car. Well, if another non-routine problem comes up between now and winter's end, I think that will be it. :-(
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That's the famous A-pipe. Mine's original. 275,000 miles and 15 years. It's still sound, but is looking decidedly ugly. I think its longevity is due to my relatively high annual mileage. The car doesn't sit much,

A common source of gas fumes is the low-pressure return lines alongside the fuel tank, below the filler neck. A secondary source is the filler neck overflow pipe having rotted.

Corrosion is a major problem up here, at least in Eastern Canada. I have found that if you buy the car used, it had better be pretty new, otherwise rust will have gotten away from you by the time you take ownership.
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TeGGeR

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High Tech Misfit wrote:

And talk about speaking too soon... the temperature slider on the climate control panel is busted!!! But this is minor; I think the cable just needs to be reattached to one end. Thankfully, it is stuck in the middle so it's not too warm or cold.
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Unless it is very different from my daughter's '93 LX, the cable from the panel goes to a mixer box at the bottom of the center console (like, under the radio). There should be a small panel at the very bottom of the console near the passenger's feet... IIRC it is held by one or two screws and the vent pulls away from the duct that feeds it. Once the panel is off you will see how it works, and it is straightforward.
Mike
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Thanks to all of you who provided advice.
Today I purchased a 2004 Civic LX 4-door automatic with 39,000km (24,000 miles); I will be picking it up on Thursday. Before then, my mechanic will fix the gas fume problem on my Accord, which will traded in as part of the deal (the dealer offered a surprisingly fair figure for it).
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High Tech Misfit wrote:

You may not want to get yourself in a position where you HAVE to buy a car in short order. I assume you are a one-car "family" and the car is required so you can get to work. I'd start shopping now while you have the luxury to browse. FWIW, there's a '99 Accord and a '04 Accord in our family. No comparison, the '04 is a FAR better car in every regard except handling...and purchase cost.
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ACAR wrote:

Actually, I am single with no kids. But I have been travelling over 150 miles almost every day for the past couple of months and will likely continue to do so for another month or two.

Yep, it's almost official... I'm going to start shopping around probably this weekend. But I am probably going to look for a 2004 or 2005 Civic. I know a 7th-gen Civic probably does not handle as well as previous versions, but I am not concerned with that.

I had always heard that the 7th-gen handled better than the 6th-gen. And personally, I think the 6th-gen looks better than the 7th-gen, as far as the 4-door is concerned.
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