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Keeping My Cool

Kristine Hayes, 11:00 am ET

MY 2007 HONDA CR-V’s air conditioning system started having issues about three years ago. I took it to a shop where they added refrigerant and declared the problem fixed. A year later, the AC stopped working again so I took it to a different mechanic, who declared the problem solved after adding refrigerant and replacing a relay. Several months later, I was once again driving around in a car at ambient temperatures. Because I spent much of the summer of 2020 working from home, I decided not to bother with another repair.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when temperatures in the Northwest were forecast to reach record highs. I knew I needed to come up with a fix. My first thought? Trade in my low-mile, mint-condition Honda for a fancy new Kia. I justified my thinking by first telling myself I deserved a new car. Then I justified it using the fact that used cars are in demand right now. I went so far as to contact a new car dealer to request pricing information for both my trade-in and a new vehicle. The dopamine hit I got from thinking about having a new car completely overwhelmed the more practical parts of my brain.

In a moment of sanity, I told my husband I felt like I was trying to solve a $1,500 problem with a $25,000 solution. I found a local mechanic who specialized in AC issues and scheduled my car for a diagnostic panel. They quickly discovered the problem, gave me an estimate for the repair and, when I approved the fix, they ordered the parts and had everything repaired just 24 hours later. Ironically enough, the cost of the repair was almost exactly what I had predicted, coming in at $1,460. My lovingly cared for Honda now happily blows cold air again and I’m happily driving around without a $400-a-month car payment.

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Ben Rodriguez
Ben Rodriguez
1 month ago

That’s cool (pun intended). I love old cars and people who drive them. Compared to the general population that includes me too, although my rule is I get a new one after 10 years. I just can’t help myself, but I wish I could. Love live your 2007 Honda!

kristinehayes2014
kristinehayes2014
1 month ago
Reply to  Ben Rodriguez

I’m hoping the Honda will keep me going for a few more years. I’m one of those people who takes good care of their vehicles so it looks almost as good as it did when it was new. It’s not a fancy car but it’s solid.

wtfwjtd
wtfwjtd
1 month ago

I know this is going to date me, but I can still remember the days of dealing with a slow A/C Freon leak by dumping a 69-cent can of R-12 into the system every 6 months and forgetting about it. Those days are long gone, obviously, and now a slow A/C leak is an unacceptable big-time expense every several months. Good for you for hopefully getting the source of the leak fixed this time around.
And I love how you put that–…”trying to solve a $1,500 problem with a $25,000 solution”… Or, as we say around here, trying to swat a fly with a sledge hammer. You’ll probably eventually get that fly, but will likely sustain some rather serious collateral damage in the process. Using the fly swatter is a much more targeted and effective solution, as is simply fixing the leaking A/C. And heck, if you still wanted to splurge for that new vehicle, you still can. But at least now it will be on you own terms, and you won’t be sweating it as much (in this case, literally)!

Nate Allen
Nate Allen
1 month ago
Reply to  wtfwjtd

They still sell the small cans of freon at Walmart, AutoZone, etc. but they are now around $5 and the freon is 134A, not R-12. Also, dumping it in is not as easy as it used to be on older cars, although still doable.

kristinehayes2014
kristinehayes2014
1 month ago
Reply to  wtfwjtd

I remember cans of Freon as well! Having a 14-year-old car certainly has its drawbacks, but I’m thankful I found a good (honest) mechanic who is very up front with me when it comes to repairs. CR-V’s from the mid-to-late 2000’s are pretty well known for making it to 250,000 miles without too many issues. I’m only at 118,000 miles so I figure I may have another 14 years (or more) left in her!

Nick Politakis
Nick Politakis
1 month ago

great article. It’s mind blowing how much new and used cars cost so when you have a decent car, I’m of the opinion you should keep it as long as possible.

kristinehayes2014
kristinehayes2014
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick Politakis

Thanks Nick. My very first new car was a Honda Civic hatchback purchased in the early 90’s, I think. Brand new, it cost $9900. I can still remember how expensive that seemed to me at the time. So far so good with my CRV. It’s very nice to have reliable AC again and it’s somewhat refreshing to have a car that still requires me to do most of the work ;-).Thanks for you comment!

Harry J. Smolen
Harry J. Smolen
1 month ago

Kristine, long time reader of your articles. I used to own a 2004 mercedes that was beautiful, but I got sucked into the belief that repair of used was better than new, finally gave up and bought a new mazda, would be glad to share my math

kristinehayes2014
kristinehayes2014
1 month ago

Harry–it’s nice to hear from a long time reader. It’s hard to believe I’ve been an HD contributor for 4 1/2 years now! I’d love to hear more about the math that convinced you to go with a new car over continued repairs of an old one. I’m definitely at that juncture where I’m always questioning which way to go.

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