View Full Version : George's Mile-High Garage

February 15th, 2014, 06:10 AM
5943 feet above sea level to be exact, according to a couple of elevation finder websites.

My current ride is a '99 Honda Accord EX 4-cylinder automatic with 203,xxx miles. Some of you saw this awesome machine in person at Fiesta Del F eetwoo in Parker, Colorado a couple years ago. I bought it on 12/31/2007 with 139,xxx miles and it hasn't cost me much to own.


Never fails to start and run well and always gets me where I want to go and back
Plain-jane enough to be completely invisible. Can park it anywhere without concern.
Cheap to maintain
Looks okay on the outside and the interior cleans up nicely
I have a set of snow tires for it


Has had a cracked windshield for years (no safety inspections in Colorado, only emissions tests in the heavily populated counties, so lots of folks drive around with cracked 'shields on old cars)
Has recently developed a suspension rattle on the front passenger side corner when I hit bumps while turning left
Burns a little oil between changes
Bought with no idea of age of timing belt. That was at 139K and I'm now at 203K. That timing belt can't last forever.
Lately have had to - sometimes, not always - pull back on the shifter lever a little to get the key to turn. I don't (can't) shift out of Park, but just pull back on it to let the key turn. Modern safety stuff, I guess. Have heard about this problem and temporary solution on Car Talk on NPR. A relay is wearing out, I believe.

Obviously with a car like this, one keeps an eye open for the next car. And, like most of you guys, I'm always looking at cars though I seldom buy them. I've only owned five cars in my 30 years of driving.

My neighbor has a '99 (I think) Honda Accord EX (I think) V6 (I know it's a V6) with much lower mileage than mine. A couple years ago I remember him saying he had something over 100,000 miles but not much more than that. I asked him then to please let me know if he ever wanted to sell it. The subject came up again once since then and I again expressed interest.

Yesterday (Friday), we got a message on our home answering machine that they are ready to sell the car and I am the first to know. I called back yesterday in the late afternoon and left them a message to call me. Close observation (they live across the street) last evening and this morning show no activity at their house. They are likely out of town for the weekend, since the kids have a 4-day weekend now for a teacher workday and some government employee holiday or something.

I'm excited about this opportunity to potentially buy a medium-mileage 15-year-old Accord V6 to replace my high-mileage 15-year-old Accord 4-cylinder. I'll keep you guys posted as the story develops.

Of course I don't know what he wants for it nor any other details yet, so this could come to an abrupt halt if the price is too high or if the car has more miles on it than I am assuming it does. I think he, like me, drives five or six miles each way to the local big office park area to work and that's about it. They take their Honda Odyssey van when they travel as a family.

Edited to add: hey, whaddya know? I have a picture of the car in question. It's the only other car (not a truck/SUV) in this picture. Color is dark green, like my wife's last Accord was.


February 15th, 2014, 11:40 AM
It's a '99 Accord SE V6 with leather seats (yuck) and 135,xxx miles (great!). Timing belt, water pump, and whatever else done in Summer 2013. They have all maintenance records since they bought it in 2001. New all-season tires. Price: "We're hoping for four to five thousand". Timeframe for their new car is about a week from now. I can test drive it whenever I like but don't plan to without getting the money and the facts straight first. I don't want that awesome V6 power to influence me in what needs to be a purely business decision.

I haven't done any research yet but welcome any opinions. My initial reaction is the price is too high. I'm off to The Google.

February 15th, 2014, 03:21 PM
Unless there is something really wrong with your car, I wouldn't invest $4k+ to end up right back where you started minus a few miles. Nothing says the lower-mileage car will be any more reliable or require less work in some reasonable future increment. At two or three grand I'd jump on it, but honestly they'll probably be able to get their asking price so I don't think I'd play that game.

February 15th, 2014, 08:13 PM
Thank you for your wise counsel TSG. Anybody else? Gut feelings about right and wrong and money and cars?

I think they are asking a fair price after as much online researching as I could stand. It's now just a question of do I want to upgrade my car at this time, and if so, is that one the one?

I don't need to buy a car.

I don't like Accords enough to have much emotional involvement here; it's as if I'm evaluating two toaster ovens to take a gamble on their longevity.

Yet here's what appears to be a gently-used car owned for a long time by a couple who take good care of their cars, their house, their yard, and their kids, so it's not a risk of having been a flood car or an odometer rollback or rebuilt wreck or who knows what else when buying a car with an unknown history.

It's a 15-year-old car that's dark green and the paint is still in good shape. It lives in a garage at home and at work, so it's not faded in or out.

The V6 Accords run a different tire size than the 4-cyls, so I'd need to buy snow tires to fit this car.

I figure I can get at least a grand for my car on CL so that drops my net price.

Strongly considering taking it to my mechanic early next week and paying $100-ish to get an eval.

February 16th, 2014, 07:00 AM
I'm actually in a similar position. A friend has a (facelifted, even) BL-generation Legacy GT in WAGON format, which was what I wanted from the start. Yet swapping from my car (~35000km) to his (~60000km, 2 dogs) seems a bit silly to me. Ideally, I'd have both, but that's even siller.

February 16th, 2014, 08:50 AM
I think I'm inclined to side with tsg on this one. I just don't know that 70k fewer miles, leather, a bit more power, and an uncracked windshield would be worth $4-5k to me. As he said, once you get up into that kind of age and mileage there's no way to know if something random is going to fail out of the blue and either cost you a pile of cash for repairs or leave you shopping for another car two months down the line.
With your situation, I'd jump on it if they wanted $2k, but otherwise let it go unless your accord dies or needs major repairs before the neighbors sell it.

February 16th, 2014, 10:58 AM
Thanks Josh.

My current plan - subject to change any second - is to take my car into the shop near my office tomorrow (Monday) morning for an overdue oil change and the once-over for other problems. I'm going to present this opportunity to them and get their opinion after they've inspected my current car. If they say I'm good to go for the forseeable future, then I think I'll pass on this car.

If anyone wants to play, here's a challenge: show me what I can buy for $4000 to $5000 that would be a better car than what I have across the street. Turn-ons: midsize cars to seat four people, V6 engines, manual transmissions, AWD, Japanese reliability, not black in color, and common enough for parts to be readily available.

These and similar cars suit my needs, I believe:

Honda Accord
Toyota Camry
Toyota Avalon
Subaru Legacy / Outback sedans and wagons
The large Acura sedan - can't think of the name - TL, maybe?
Mazda 6 sedans and wagons - does a V6/manual/wagon exist?

And I also have a jones for a Honda Element for some reason. Would have to be AWD and manual to be considered.

February 16th, 2014, 11:02 AM
IMO, the Accord's the sweet spot already.

February 16th, 2014, 11:07 AM
Which one? Mine or the green one across the street?

February 16th, 2014, 11:29 AM
Yes. :p

Toyota Camry -- Dull
Toyota Avalon -- Dull with leather
Subaru Legacy / Outback sedans and wagons -- Not as dull, but not as reliable. Poor fuel economy (if that's a consideration)
The large Acura sedan - can't think of the name - TL, maybe? -- The TL is pretty nice, but not as bulletproof as the 90s Accords.
Mazda 6 sedans and wagons - does a V6/manual/wagon exist? -- Don't think the wagon ever got the manual, sadly. Not as reliable as the Accord, though much sportier and more stylish.

February 16th, 2014, 12:54 PM
One Mazda 6 V6/stick wagon coming right up! (http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=46514&endYear=2015&modelCode1=MAZDA6&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&makeCode1=MAZDA&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=0&bodyStyleCodes=WAGON&mmt=[MAZDA[MAZDA6&listingId=362679116&Log=0)
ATTACK OF THE MAZDA 6 V6 STICK WAGON PART DEUX! (http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=46514&endYear=2015&modelCode1=MAZDA6&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&makeCode1=MAZDA&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=0&bodyStyleCodes=WAGON&mmt=[MAZDA[MAZDA6&listingId=357468463&listingIndex=22&Log=0)

February 16th, 2014, 05:14 PM
Yeah there were manual 6 wagons. What they didn't offer was the four-cylinder in the wagon. They were all V6s, mostly autos but there were some manuals.

February 16th, 2014, 05:14 PM
Test drove it around twilight tonight. Very nice car. Dig this original paint from 1999. It was fun to drive the same car I have with a larger engine. It was noticeably louder and, like the V6 Camry I drove for nine years, has more than sufficient power to get around town and to cruise in the fast lane on the interstate.


All the interior lights work! (Not so for mine...dash lights, I mean)


Could this be the same 3.0L V6 that's in our Pilot? I'm guessing so. Both have plenty of power on tap.




February 16th, 2014, 08:03 PM
I'd stay with what ya got.

But logical choice is boring...

February 16th, 2014, 10:46 PM
I'd go for it. YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE!111111!!11!11!11 so why not GET THE V6 ACC0RD P0W4H!1!11!!1!!11

February 16th, 2014, 11:23 PM
If anyone wants to play, here's a challenge: show me what I can buy for $4000 to $5000 that would be a better car than what I have across the street. Turn-ons: midsize cars to seat four people, V6 engines, manual transmissions, AWD, Japanese reliability, not black in color, and common enough for parts to be readily available.

Is the point here to get something with more/different "stuff," better reliability, or just change for the sake of change? I ask because, as the consumer of a lot of $4k-$5k cars, I say with a high degree of certainty that you can get #1 and #3, but not #2. That price range is a 12-16 year old car, roughly the same as what you've got, and any car in that age range is going to have a similar host of problems.

If that doesn't bother you, by all means plow ahead - but if the goal is to make reliability the number one priority, I'd stick with what you've got. You know the history of your car and how you've treated it, and that is something you will never get with someone else's car, no matter how nice it seems.

That said, given the qualities you're looking for, I'd give a good look at the '98 V70. Great cars, reasonable to maintain, and they do everything you asked. The AWD manuals are tough to find - they are quite rare, but they do exist.

February 17th, 2014, 05:15 AM
I was looking at a local dealer's site(same one that had the '89 Supra) and they had a '00 Nissan Maxima manual (http://www.headersauto.com/profile.asp?VIN=JN1CA31A9YT025091&xMake=&FilterMake=0&zip=&distance=) and a '99 Camry V6 manual (http://www.headersauto.com/profile.asp?VIN=4T1BF22K9XU933671&xMake=&FilterMake=0&zip=&distance=). They also have an '03 Rav 4 manual (http://www.headersauto.com/profile.asp?VIN=JTEHH20V330227489&xMake=&FilterMake=0&zip=&distance=). Pretty sure the manual numbers on all of those are pretty low.

February 17th, 2014, 07:41 AM
'99 Camry V6 manual (http://www.headersauto.com/profile.asp?VIN=4T1BF22K9XU933671&xMake=&FilterMake=0&zip=&distance=)

I like that Camry! I liked my last Camry more than this Accord. Having owned both, they seem just an inch or two larger in every direction than an Accord and that makes a difference in leg, elbow, and head room.

My car is in the shop now. The more I think about it, I don't really want the green car, but like anyone else, I would like a change of scenery from the car I've had for five years, and I think this was too good an opportunity to ignore. The green car really is nice.

u know the history of your car and how you've treated it, and that is something you will never get with someone else's car, no matter how nice it seems.

True, but in this case I've seen this car for the last seven or eight years - I forget when they bought that house, but it was a year or two after we did - and I've seen it garaged every night and kept clean and so forth. Turns out it was her car, bought at two years old and he only started driving it after they sold his older Camry and bought an Odyssey after having kids. Now they want to get him something newer but not new in anticipation of the Odyssey wearing out in a few years and them not wanting to have two car payments at once.

Unless the guys at the shop tell me disaster is imminent, I guess I'll pass on the green Accord and save my money. It really would just be a luxury or vanity upgrade but not a necessary one. Thanks to all for your advice and educated opinions.

February 17th, 2014, 11:08 AM
Diagnosis: Right front upper ball joint "extremely" loose - "must be replaced - a safety concern". Also stabilizer bar end links are loose. Will need alignment after these two items fixed. Price with oil change: $631.00 estimated. I told them to go ahead.

I also discussed the green V6 vs. the car I have now and the guy literally started laughing. He said something like "run this until you're tired of paying for repairs and then upgrade ten years from a '99 to an '09 or something along those lines. Don't buy old cars and think you're saving money."

Okay. Well, all you guys told me and now a pro has too. Fair enough. Thanks again.

February 17th, 2014, 12:15 PM
If you are primarily looking for a change of scenery, why not buy one of those Bugs you're always posting? That would make a great third car, something you could enjoy in nicer weather to break up the monotony of the Accord. A Bug is a solid investment - surely a break-even ride over a couple years and you would probably enjoy just seeing it in the driveway. I will tell you, every time I get bored with a car I put it away for a few weeks, and when I come back to it I am invariably reminded of why I keep it. Having an old VW will make you appreciate the surefire Accord, and vice versa. Think on it!

February 17th, 2014, 01:26 PM
I guess i'm posting a lil late, since it seems the decision has been made.

I agree with the decision, and what pretty much everyone else has said. You'd be spending $4000 on a different colour, slightly more power and better maintenance history.
I always buy my cars and run them into the ground. It's cheaper to budget $1500 a year for repairs (not maintenance. Every car needs oil changes, tires, brakes, spark plugs etc) than to pay $200 (that's at the low end too) a month for a car.
In the two years I have owned my current car, I have spent about $800 on it; $350 was for a radiator, and I bought a couple of coils to fix a misfire that I had to take it to the mechanic for eventually, and two fuel pumps. It comes with two, one was failing and I just replaced both.) So I am ahead $1600 vs my budgeted repair costs.
On my previous car, I spent $1800 on a cylinder head refresh a year into owning it, and then drove it for nearly ten years with nothing major other than a waterpump. Which I changed myself.
I just did the oil change and plugs on my car for the bi annual smog test. It needs rear brakes at some point (and has needed them for a year already) and tires down the road. The tires on it right now are 60000 mile Michelin Primacy MXV4s with 60000 miles on them, and 5/32 still left on the tread. I'll get about another 20000 out of them because I don't accelerate hard, turn hard, or brake hard. They get rotated frequently. In other words, I know what my car needs as I am the one who has been supervising it's maintenance. With a new car, you're partially relying on the previous owners maintenance.

February 17th, 2014, 01:52 PM
All good points above from TSG and neaderthal. Thanks. Wish I had the bucks to justify owning another Beetle as a toy. That's probably a bit too blatant a toy for a father of young twins who will need to go to college someday and never mind all the money they'll cost between now and then, so I keep my toys in the basement in guitar cases instead of in the garage. They're a lot cheaper than cars.

Although I was looking at this as pay $4000-ish for the car and then sell mine for at least $1500 - surely it's worth that and maybe a tiny bit more, so then this would be a $2500 deal, plus snow tires for the V6, which it doesn't have. I wasn't going to have to go into debt to do that so it looked like a good idea on Saturday, especially when my wife thought it was a good idea for a while.

I was thinking, "Let's say I spent $2500 - $3000 on my current car - full maintenance, new windshield, etc. Would it then be as good as the one across the street? No."

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, it won't matter as much anyway, because I'll be riding my bicycle to work instead of driving. I figure every day I don't drive it is another day tacked on to the end of its useful life.

February 17th, 2014, 01:59 PM
P.S. For whatever it's worth, my Accord with 203,340 miles as of this morning has what the shop guy says are the factory original struts. The guy seemed a bit perplexed by this but said they are fine and do not need to be changed.

February 17th, 2014, 02:11 PM
no vehicle with 200k on factory struts is good. He is doing you a monetary service as a nice guy. Stay with him.

Them shocks and struts need to go. Spend some money on your car, and you'll fall in love with it all over again.

February 17th, 2014, 02:50 PM
They look good because the oil that's leaked out has since washed away ;)

February 17th, 2014, 02:57 PM
He specifically said they weren't leaking and he couldn't belive that, but I belive that Godson is correct. It's a good shop, and it being walking distance from my office makes it the obvious choice.

February 17th, 2014, 03:53 PM
A single bounce test would show them be done :D

February 17th, 2014, 04:24 PM
$4000 - $1500 = $2500 = a totally serviceable old Beetle. Just saying.

Also, don't rule out of the possibility that suspension can live for a good long time on a lightly driven car. The '02 9-3 I just sold had 150k on the original suspension, and it was in perfect shape. We finally replaced the shocks on Ingrid, the '85 745T at 180k, because it was t-boned and the rear left shock was broken. Quality OE parts & nice driving make for long lives from oil-filled suspension. IME, YMMV.

February 17th, 2014, 06:08 PM
While doling out thank-yous, I completely neglected to acknowledge speedpimp's Car I'd Buy Right Now If I Could.

ATTACK OF THE MAZDA 6 V6 STICK WAGON PART DEUX! (http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=46514&endYear=2015&modelCode1=MAZDA6&showcaseOwnerId=0&startYear=1981&makeCode1=MAZDA&listingType=used&listingTypes=used&searchRadius=0&bodyStyleCodes=WAGON&mmt=[MAZDA[MAZDA6&listingId=357468463&listingIndex=22&Log=0)

I need one of these and a set of snow tires on black steelies so badly.


I really love that toned-down "old lady green" color. Just gorgeous. Would love to throw a family-sized load of skis and luggage in the back and boogie on up the hill and go skiing.

February 17th, 2014, 07:33 PM
There's one in that color near my office...I agree it's a great color.

February 17th, 2014, 07:48 PM
Comic relief picture time!