A decent car on a budget
So, the time has finally come for me to replace my wife’s car. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve done a pretty decent job keeping it running all these years. After all, the car has 320,000 miles on its original, unopened engine and automatic transmission, so I must be doing something right. But, the car is finally starting to show its age and mileage, so we’ve decided to move her into a newer, lower-mileage used car. Of course, with what the used car market is these days, finding a decent car on a budget has become something of a challenge. Low mileage cars needing no repairs and that are caught up on their maintenance are demanding a premium these days. Cars that are in our usual price range are getting more and more ragged in terms of condition.
So, after a couple of months of shopping around, we finally found a car that was a bit of a compromise all around. It was a bit newer than her old car, but only had 115,000 miles on it. The engine, transmission, and body were all basically solid, though neglected. The seller had obviously sugar-coated the description. The “brand new” tires certainly had most of their life ahead of them, but had seen quite a bit of use. The “brand new” exhaust was in good shape overall, but loud, likely due to a failed gasket, and was probably somewhere between a year and two years old, based on appearance.
The car ran and drove, but there were a number of issues. Although the seller claimed a recent timing belt job, he had no records to back up his claim. Given that the timing covers looked undisturbed, I’m going to err on the side of caution and replace the timing belt and water pump while I’m in there.
As they look original, I’m going to be replacing the accessory drive belts as well as both radiator hoses and the heater hoses. This will, of course, necessitate fresh coolant and a new radiator pressure cap. Also on my list is new spark plugs and wires. The engine has some minor leaks, so I’m going to go ahead and replace the valve cover gasket and intake manifold gasket.
Once I’m done with the work, I estimate I’ll still have spent less than the book value of the car, and will have a car that is reliable and dependable to show for it.