TTAC Commentator osnofla writes:
I have a 2000 Kia Spectra GS manual with about 97k miles on it and lately it’s been doing something really weird. I’m pretty sure it has to do with the clutch. When I upshift the engagement is very rough, especially below 3k rpm. It kind of lunges forward and stops and forward again then finally picks up roughly around 3k rpm and the rest of rev range is smooth. On top of this there is also the matter of the tightening the belt for the power steering because it squeals at full-lock and fixing the brakes because I’m pretty sure the rotors are warped and need new pads and shoes.
So actually my question is whether I should actually fix these things since — and I’m going out on limb here — the repairs probably cost more than the car is worth. I’m in grad school and will be for the next year. As a result, I have very little money to go out and get another car, though my parents said they could help me out if I really need it. I’m not really attached to this car at all even though I learned how to drive with it. I just don’t see that many options for my tastes: I like manny tranny wagons and hatchbacks. Should I use my parents money while I still can?
Oh, so you are one of the 500 people in this country that like wagons with clutches? Nice. Since you’re in grad school, better stick with a cheap sedan with a stick until you have the cash reserves for something more to your liking. A cheap sedan like a Kia Spectra.
Here’s why: the Kia will net $1000 on a trade-in, if you’re lucky. That’s provided the dealership makes a healthy profit on the car you bought. Or keep your fingers crossed, hoping that someone buys it on Craigslist for $1500. I don’t like either scenario.
The car probably needs $500 (quick guess) worth of work to fix the shifting issue. It’s possible you need a new clutch, or the clutch’s hydraulic system is out of adjustment. Parts will be cheap, labor will not. Brake pads/rotors can be $100-150; odds are you need a cheap brake job with the cheapest parts. The power steering belt squeal is not an adjustment: a new serpentine belt ($25) is a likely candidate because I suspect yours is original and glazed like a doughnut. All of this is normal used car stuff, and you shouldn’t be afraid to get them sorted.
I am more concerned about this Kia’s timing belt: another expense we haven’t considered. Still, if I were you, I’d find a good non-franchise mechanic who runs a clean shop, has fair labor rates, and bite the bullet: get your parent’s help to get the car serviced. I suspect any alternative vehicle in your price range won’t be much better than your current ride.
My point: a big repair bill (for normal wear parts) sets a car straight for several years. By then your advanced degree can buy you a sweet wagon with a 6-speed stick. And don’t forget the little people who got you there, ya hear?
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