I have a 1999 Ford Contour with 90K miles on it. I want to buy another
car in a year (if this one makes it that long). I need to know if
should invest money to fix the following things:
1. The left drivers electric window won't go down (has been 'fixed'
2. The right front electric window no longer goes into the rubber seal
when it is goes up, which allows water into the car when it rains.
3. The master door lock no longer works. The doors have to be locked
4. The dash has separated from the windshield and has curled up in the
5. The paint on the hood is flaking off ($400 to repaint).
6. The transmission hesitates and then jumps into first gear when the
accelerator is pressed.
The car has a blue book price of around $2000 in 'fair' condition. It
will cost at least $1500 to get the above things fixed, if not more
(not including having the transmission replaced). I'd like to use the
car as a trade-in. Should I sink more money into it or just hope it
will run for another year until I can afford a new car? I have no
attachment at all to the car, if that makes any difference :)
Usually a bad switch, if it goes up okay. Some testing will tell
you which one. Often the "fixing" is a shot of contact cleaner and it
started working (for a while), not the new switch it needs.
Oh, and sometimes you get a broken wire in the Driver's Door wiring
harness where it goes through the door jamb, those are the wires that
get flexed every time the door opens. If the window switch circuit or
the electric lock circuit tests open, that's the first place you look.
Mechanical, you can fix the window track alignment when you take the
inside door panel off to diagnose the window motor problems.
This can wait - sleuth a little. Might be electrical, might be a
bad lock actuator motor. Might be in the right front door actuator
and you get a "Grand Slam", kill all three problems at once. ;-)
Cosmetic... You can probably DIY the repair with patience and a
Shop Manual to see how it comes apart.
You can DIY paint work, it's mostly the time involved in hand labor
for sanding, metal etch prep, priming, spot putty and hand sanding
that'll kill you when you pay the body shop for the labor. Go to a
good auto parts store with an auto paint department, make friends.
They'll get you the right materials, you provide the elbow grease.
If you don't trust yourself to paint it, you can do all the prep and
prime work at home, and have the Body Shop Painter do the color coats.
That will cost you a whole lot less, and if you do the prep and prime
work right the results will be better - they always hurry through the
prep, you don't have to.
If the car has metallic paint you MUST have the Body Shop paint it -
Metallics have to be applied with proper gun-handling technique and in
the right "grain" direction to match the factory robots, or they look
horrid in the sunlight. The metallic flakes act like little mirrors,
and they have to be laid down evenly in the same direction across the
entire panel and the entire car. Without a year's full-time practice
painting cars you'll never get it anywhere close yourself.
But the entire job has to be attacked and done in a few weeks, with
at least one if not two coats of paint applied to seal the body panel.
(Doesn't have to be perfect, you can always sand it and paint again.)
Primer does NOT seal water out, and if you sand, prep and prime - and
then stop for weeks - you can get rust started under the primer coat.
Then you get to strip it back down to bare metal and start all over.
(Yes, I went overboard here - but if you give any of the details,
you have to give ALL of them - they're all important.)
THIS one you'll need professional help, and should at least be
checked before it blows up - go get a diagnosis at a transmission
shop. They can tell if it's a little problem or about to die on you.
And realize if you catch it early you can shop around, and arrange
for them to do it during mid-week or other "slow times" to save a few
more bucks. You also save the additional costs of a tow, and lost
work time, etc.
The only thing on the list that will really affect the resale price
of a "transportation" or "beater" car is the transmission, everything
else you mentioned is non critical.
And that's a HUGE Catch-22 - If you invest in a transmission now,
you'll get to drive for another 80K-100K miles (4 or 5 years) without
transmission troubles, and it will be in warranty for around 50K-75K
of those miles. Then you can sell the car in "good condition", but
that still won't be a lot with 200K on the odometer....
But if the you wait and gamble and the transmission blows up toward
the end of the year when you planned to sell, if it's not operable you
will NOT be able to get much more than scrap value for the car.
Either you have to sink good money into the car to sell it - $1,500
investment getting it fixed to get another $1,000 of resale = $500
loss - or you have to practically give it away/scrap it 'not running'
and lose $1,000 or more.
In for a penny, in for a pound. If you put in a new transmission,
plan on fixing the other things it needs (brakes, tires, paint, etc.)
and keep driving it for 4-6 more years. Might be the cheapest "new
car" you ever buy - no car payments, no interest, no high insurance
Or bail out now while the bailing is good. Get it checked, and if
the transmission isn't in imminent demise fix what you can for cheap
(get the window back on track and the switch fixed, do a minor repair
on the transmission to get it shifting right) and sell the car now
while you can get top dollar.
--<< Bruce >>--
Even if you have all those problems fixed all of the wearable parts are
going to need replacing soon as well.
Factor in struts, brakes, exhaust, tires, alternator, battery, starter,
plugs, wires, cap/rotor, belts, what else did I leave out? What could
that add up to, another $1000? You get the picture.
Not worth it IMO.
Check with oyur local charities, some will take the car give you a receipt
for the market price.
That would mean a deduction of about 300... or you could sell it privately
for about 400, listing as, 'runs - needs work' plus a list of all the
'suspicions' you have about what might be wrong as you sell it....
OR negotiate your price for a new car, THEN offer it as a trade. Never
mention your trade first, unless you like feeling you got a better deal
than you really did..
Whatever, from what you write, DO NOT throw money at it.
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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