Piston Slap: Recon for Your Soulmate?

TTAC commentator Blackcloud_9 writes:

I currently own a 2014 Kia Soul. I’m looking to use it as trade-in value for a new (or new to me) car. The Soul is an imminently practical car. Does most everything reasonably well, it’s very reliable but it definitely does not stir my “soul”. I’m usually a “keep it forever” guy but the time has come that I can finally afford to buy “my” car. The question for you (and the B&B) is that the car has a couple of cosmetic issues and I’m wondering if it’s worth reconditioning a car for sale.

The only reason I would do this is to raise the trade-in value of the car.

  1. The windshield has a quarter-sized star/web crack in the lower right corner. I’ve had it filled and I know it won’t get any worse. However, the repair person did a poor job and the top resin fill fell out so the crack is very noticeable. The best estimate I’ve been quoted for a windshield replacement is ~ $235 (US).
  2. The front bumper had an unfortunate meet-and-greet with a garage doorframe and stucco wall. It is not dented but the plastic cladding has some pretty good gouges and there is a 1” wide x 3” long ellipse of removed paint. So, it’s not going to be a buff and wax job to get it looking good. I haven’t gotten an estimate for this repair but I’ve had front ends repaired before (other cars & teenaged children) so my best guess would be about $900.

I’m thinking the windshield might be a good investment but I’m not sure if I would get a good ROI on the bumper repair. The Soul has 77k miles and very mechanically/cosmetically sound otherwise.

Please note: I am NOT a wrench-it-yourself kind of guy. I admire anybody who can but I have a long history of self car repair frustrations.

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Piston Slap: Pre-Sale Reconditioning, To What Extent?

Christopher writes:

Sajeev,

I have a ’96 BMW Z3 (1.9, manual) that I bought several years ago from a friend who was moving away. This is my “weekend car,” but I haven’t been driving it much lately since my two young kids require a back seat. This means our Highlander now sees more weekend action than the Bimmer. I love the car, but am thinking of selling it and getting something fun that can hold more passengers (E30?).

My problem is that the car now has 191k miles on it and needs some work done to “make it right” before selling it. Mechanically, it needs new rear struts, sway bar bushings, ABS sensors (only about $3 each on eBay), an AC recharge, new tires (old ones have lots of tread but are getting really old) and a noisy tensioner pulley that needs replacement. Oh, and the aftermarket radio/CD player is awful.

Cosmetically, it looks good but the leather upholstery on the seats bottoms is shot (have covers on now) and a broken fog light from hitting a branch in the road.

It still runs and drives great and I feel there’s a lot of life left in it for someone looking for a cheap and fun ride. And aside from reupholstering the seats, I can do all the work myself, saving on the shop labor. But it will be a giant, time-consuming pain in the ass and those parts aren’t going to be cheap. Normally, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but free time has been in short supply lately.

Now that these cars are now fully depreciated and not worth much (especially with close to 200k miles), I’m wondering if it’s worth putting the time and money into it OR if I should just sell it dirt cheap and with full disclosure of the issues to someone looking for a weekend project car?

What would you do? I appreciate that feedback!

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Piston Slap: The Cons of Recon Before Trade-in?

TTAC commentator cwallace writes:

Sajeev,

Here’s what’s probably an easy question for you: Is it ever worth the money to update wear items on a car before trading it in?

My trusty 2007 Accord EX V6 is suddenly about to cost me some real money. With 154,000 miles on it, the tires are about shot, it needs new struts, there’s a crack in the windshield, and the rear main seal is starting to make a mess of my driveway. Plus, my commute just got a lot longer, so the lack of creature comforts (like sound insulation, for heaven’s sake) make me think I’ve got my money’s worth from this car.

Other than those things, it looks good for its age, and everything else works just as it should. All that dealership service paid off, is what I tell myself.

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Piston Slap: Rejuvenate or Deep Six the A6?

Vincent asks:

Hi Sajeev,

I own a 2000 Audi A6 2.7T that I bought 3 years ago. It has been a surprisingly good vehicle to me – comfortable and fast. I even track it on occasion with no complaints. It’s been fairly reliable; the most major issues were having the ABS controller rebuilt and replacing the valve cover gaskets myself, which were not a big deal. As long as nothing catastrophic happens, I plan to keep the car for many more years.

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