When Do You Know It's Time To Part Ways With Your Car?

Everyone moves on from their car eventually, sometimes with regrets.

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Photo: Erik Shilling

I took my car to the shop in Los Angeles before driving back to New York City this week because the drive belt was squealing and I wanted a general wellness check in any case. They said the water pump was leaking, and also the rear brake shoes needed replacing, and also I wanted new spark plugs. I spent [REDACTED] to get it all done, but it did make me wonder when it would be time to move on.

My car is a 2008 Honda Fit Sport with 88,000 miles; what has been replaced from almost a decade of ownership, in no certain order: the battery, alternator, air conditioning compressor, left front suspension (the spring broke somehow?), spark plugs, water pump, tires, drive belt, brake pads/rotors/shoes (many times), driveshaft (recall), front passenger airbag (recall), entire front end (New York City). Then there are the fluids: radiator, brake, and automatic transmission fluid all having been flushed and replaced. Some people will tell you it might be a waste of time and money, but I don’t think I agree and, in any case, I am determined to take care of this car for once in my life.

I get the oil changed as soon as the car tells me to, which is around every 6,000 miles or so; the car tells me based on its own calculations, itself the product of Honda engineering from over a decade ago. I don’t get my tires aligned enough as I should, same with tire rotation, though I have had both done recently. The airbag light came on about 6,000 miles ago and then mysteriously turned off; the only warning light on at the moment is the tire pressure management system light, which has been on for years because the TPMS sensor is dead in one tire and I don’t feel like spending $100 to replace it.

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After one service visit, the dealer replaced the key with no explanation, probably because the battery on the old one was set to go. I don’t always take my car to the dealer for service, but I do when I’m not in New York, because mechanics are shifty and unreliable, while dealers are expensive but mostly reliable, at least Honda ones, in my experience. I have an independent mechanic in Brooklyn that I know and trust, but I don’t anywhere else.

Anyway, suffice to say that I’ve spent thousands of dollars to keep the Fit in good working order, and only the TPMS, currently, is broke, though my last service visit was expensive enough that I thought for the first time: Is it time to move on? For many people, that question is answered when the engine or transmission fails, but the Fit’s engine and transmission are in good shape, as far as I know.

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This means that it will remain my steed for the foreseeable future, until the engine or transmission fails, or until, I guess, that a part that’s been replaced needs replacing, outside of ordinary things like tires and brake pads. The car market, right now, is also not ideal, though I think I would feel the same way in more normal times. The devil you know, etc. When do you decide you’ve had enough?