In need of advice from the guys! re: Cars


Ok, all you great and honest guys on CAF… here’s the situation. Our car is old… a 1994 Honda. And it’s beginning to fall apart. :frowning: (which makes me very sad, because it’s my “baby”!). On the way home from Mass, today… a hose broke underneath and it spewed some kind of water all along the road. And is now sitting in a puddle. May be the radiator, who knows what.

But I have to face reality… and think about the possibility of getting a newer, USED car.

Can you guys give me some hints? What should I be looking for? And more to the point, what I should look OUT for? Sadly, there are many unscrupulous folks out there… who will take unbridled advantage of single or older women. :sad_yes: I’m somewhere in the middle of all that.

How do I know if I’m being ripped off… or not? And what would you suggest about any car I’m considering buying… like mechanic checks, and so forth? What are the most important questions to ask the seller?

Hope I get some great suggestions! 'Cause right now… I’m CLUELESS! :o

(p.s. To the ladies… didn’t mean this thread to sound “sexist”! Most men know the tactics about new car purchasing. But I’m open to suggestions from any ladies who are braver than I… and have purchased a car without assistance :blush: ),

Thanks all… and God bless.


A 1994 car is not that old.

What everyone needs is a regular reputable mechanic and take the car there to be serviced four times a year for oil changes and to detect things that are on the verge of failure … such as hoses with weak spots, corroded battery terminals, vacuum lines (very cheap to replace), brakes & mufflers, etc.

Nevertheless, what you have now is a car that needs a hose replaced. It’s a LOT cheaper to replace a hose than to replace a car.

Get the car fixed.

Ask three or four guys near you for the names of some mechanics or shops. If there is a Sears Auto place or Meineke muffler place, check with them.

Years ago, one of my neighbors had here car “fixed” by their kids. The car was a mess. I sent them to a local mechanic with instructions to pay $50 for an assessment of the car: was it worth fixing. The mechanic actually fixed the car for $50.

One way of finding a reputable mechanic is to check the local schools to see if they have an “adult school” that offers various subjects … if they have an auto mechanics course for non-mechanics, take your car to that mechanic who is teaching the course.*


If you take care of a Honda, it will live forever. I have a '91 Honda Accord and (with repairs) runs really nice and still gets great mileage. With proper repairs, I think I would keep that car. I have over 250,000 miles on mine and don’t plan on getting a new car soon :slight_smile:



Hi Magnus, thanks for your input. My Dad always told me that Honda was a good car! One of the problems, though… is that our car is parked outside in the elements. We get some very heavy rain and humidity and heat here in the summer. Snow and ice in the winter. I’m wondering if maybe THAT is the reason it seems to be falling apart?

Honestly… as I said above, to Al… it’s been like… one thing after another! Even my rear license plate… the prongs that hold it to the body BOTH popped off… and had to be spot welded back on. I’m lucky I didn’t lose my plates in the street. That was just about a week ago. Now this hose busting. Two weeks back, it was the AC. And we’re having almost constant issues with the tires! Even though they’re less than 4 years old. I’m constantly filling them with air. They seem constantly under-inflated. :nope: And recently, I had issues with all 4 valve stems breaking… and causing flats.

I’m at my wits end. Thanks for letting me vent… and please, keep the suggestions coming. I appreciate every one. God bless.


How long have you had the car? Where have you brought it for repairs so far?

If the mechanics you have had so far have been unsatisfactory, I would bring it to Sears Auto Center (if there is one near you) for an assessment. They have all the computerized gimmicks.

40,000 miles over 15 years is very low mileage. Why such low mileage?

[By the way, being parked outside is no big deal. Should have no effect on it. None of my cars have ever been garaged … not since my first car purchase in 1967.]


Look for a car that is suitable for your circumstances, i.e., driving to places, groceries, etc.

Ways some dealers try to rip you off:

  • Making you pay extra for features you already get with the car (like tinted windows)
  • Making you sign leases (get the car free now but gotta pay a whole lot later on)
  • Making you buy more expensive cars because they’re “better” for you (don’t fall for the “this car is better for you because it’s faster/more durable/holds more stuff, etc.”)
  • Making you give them the choice to buy your car (they’ll try to confuse you so you end up asking them what you should buy)


Since 1994, bought it brand new, in California. I’m the original owner. I’ve been taking it to a neighborhood mechanic… who has overcharged me on a number of occasions. Would you recommend Sears over a private mechanic?

It has low miles… because I’m a home-body :smiley: lol. And I drove it all the way from Los Angeles to Atlanta. It only had 20,000 some miles at that time.


I don’t know if you have kids or anything but safety has changed a huge amount since 1994. If there is any reason to get a new car fairly often it’s that IMHO.

If you are dead set on a pre owned then my suggestion, go get a late model Honda that is “Honda Certified” with a warranty if you don’t want a new one. You should be able to pick up one of the later model (new body style) Civics or possibly even an Accord for about $12-15 depending on the equipment.

Although you are wanting a pre-owned model, you might consider a new Fit for about the same price. A friend of my picked one up a little over a year ago and loves it. He bought it because his truck was paid for and driving to work was pretty expensive at almost $4 per gallon when you only got 14 mpg and you drive 80 miles a day or more. He’s pretty normal size guy but I’m tall and big and I fit in the Fit just fine :slight_smile: they have a ton of head room, air is great and you can fold the back seats down to put in a ton of stuff… AND they get about 40 mpg HWY and around 30+ in the city (late model Civic is the same though).

Last thought… if you can wait :), depending on the model you have (I didn’t remember if you said Civic or Accord) and the current problem isn’t too expensive, wait a month or so. The Government should sign the Environmental bill soon which will give you $$$ (up to $4500) towards a car that gets better gas mileage. So even if you have a Civic the new ones should do better, at least enough to get the cash. Four grand and an old Honda as traide it could get you some pretty cheap payments. :slight_smile: Example, you should be able to pick up a new Civic EX (fully loaded, sunroof everything) for well under $20K… lets say $19K, I think if it gets 6MPG better you can get the $4500 plus say $1K for your car that would be financing about $13,500. At 60 months and 5% interest you would be about $255 per month. Not bad for a brand new Civic that will probably last you another 15 years (I wouldn’t keep it more than 10 though) if you take care of it.

Good luck!

PS - Honda’s website has information about the $$$


Thanks everyone. I was asking about a used car… because I’m not working, officially (I’m caregiving for my elderly mother). There’s no way that I can get a loan for a new car. :frowning:

So, I need specifically advise on how to get a good USED car. I wouldn’t be able to spend more than $10,000.00. :nope:

I don’t even think the “Cash for Clunkers” program would benefit us, because I believe that only works with brand new cars. You can’t take advantage of that one, to get a pre-owned car.

So far, I’m leaning toward the advice about trying to keep our '94 Honda going. It seems like the only option… right now.


I’d strongly recommend going with Hondas. They’re the best around in my book!


My first car was very similar to yours re: mileage/age. I bought my grandmother’s 1994 Buick Regal from her in 2003, with approx 40K on the clock. She drove it to church and the grocery store - literally.

Was a pretty solid car, but the age had taken a toll on the rubber parts (like the hose) - had to get those replaced. I would definitely have a reputable mechanic do an inspection of the hoses/belts/etc - those can rot/crack after a long period of time, especially if you live in a harsh climate like you describe. If you invest in replacing those and keep up on preventative maintenance, that Honda will drive until kingdom come.

Also - ditch the local mechanic who is ripping you off. There are plenty of legitimate and honest mechanics out there that will treat you properly. Ask around - friends, family, fellow parishioners.


I agree with the other posters who have suggested keeping your current car. It sounds as though most of your issues are really very minor. Belts and hoses wear out, no matter what make of car you own.
My mother has a Honda Civic (not sure exactly what year it is, but it’s pretty close in age to yours). Her car has ~100,000 miles on it, and she asked her mechanic what he thought about her trading it for something newer since it had so many miles on it. He laughed and told her she was just barely breaking in a Honda at 100,000 miles.

You may actually want to consider driving it more. When you let a car sit for days or weeks on end you wind up with dry rot in the rubber pieces (hoses, tires). By actually driving the car daily you allow those parts to work as they are designed. When a car sits in one position for too long, it also can develop problems with the wheels (not just the tires), because the weight of the car forces the wheels to go out of round. This in turn will cause tire problems.


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