My brother is thinking about giving me one of his cars he doesn’t use, a 2005 Honda CR-V 2.4 L at around 120,000 miles. The problem is it has a few known problems:

  1. Rust
  2. A/C
  3. Radio
  4. Clutch
  5. Power steering
  6. Tires
  7. Brakes
  8. Shock absorbers
  9. Valve cover gasket
  10. Oil pan gasket
  11. Oil cooler “O” ring
  12. Air filters

I'm thinking of taking it and fixing it, what should I be thinking of to determine if it's worthwhile?

  • 1
    No, but if you want experience : good luck - you will get plenty or a light wallet....
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 9:08
  • 2
    by looking at this question like this none will ever suggest you to take that car, you should provide more details here or get suggestion from an expert who can inspect the car in person, like you have mentioned only "clutch" and we can only assume that it is wear related but in reality it could be as simple as a loose clutch wire.
    – Nilabja
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 10:45
  • 2
    A car with so many problems of the described kinds raises a red flag for me: It is not in good shape because it was not well maintained. You must be prepared to have just spotted the tip of the iceberg, with a bunch of other problems related to lack of maintenance already waiting to show up in the near future. I'd pass on the offer even if I could do all the repairs for the parts' price alone.
    – JimmyB
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 15:33
  • Hi,guys ,thank you for your reply. I checked it online ,the cheapest A/C and clutch online hexautoparts.com is over $120.00.Thought over ,I have no experience about it ,also there is big risk to do so,then discussed with my brother,I would rather to buy a new car after a few months. Anyway,thank you for your help ,
    – user33188
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 9:38

7 Answers 7


That's quite a big "to-do" list!

Let's look at each item in turn:

  1. Rust

If the rust is purely cosmetic and not on any structural elements such as suspension mountings or sills then you can probably just ignore it - if not it it will need someone who knows what they are doing to cut out the rust and weld in replacement metal. This can get very expensive if it is extensive so this is probably the issue that should be assessed first as if it is going to need welding then that could well be a deal breaker straight off the bat

  1. A/C

Airconditioning is purely a comfort thing - and depending on where you live and what the climate is like there this is probably something you can live with. Of course depending on what is wrong with it it may also be one of the easier and cheaper fixes - if it is simply in need of a re-gas this is cheap and cheerful. If there is a leak or a failure in the A/C pump or clutch then this can turn into something of a rabbit hole to chase down. I wouldn't even think about the A/C until you know whether the car is worth making roadworthy.

  1. Radio

Same as the A/C really it's a very minor thing - the stereo in my daily driver died about a month or so ago and I've been making do with a cheap bluetooth speaker sat on the passenger seat and linked to my phone. This can go right to the bottom of the list along with the A/C

  1. Clutch

We're back on to the important things now - assuming the clutch has started slipping/failed then obviously you need this doing before you can consider the car useable. Clutch changes can be time-consuming to do on older cars as everything will be pretty well rusted tight and if the car in question is an all-wheel drive model it can further complicate things. Labor is the killer here - if you've got access to cheap/free labor or decent spannering skills yourself it can be viable. Otherwise get some quotes from a decent garage but be prepared for a rather high figure!

  1. Power Steering

You don't specify what is wrong with the PAS but assuming a pump failure as a worst case this generally isn't too bad. It does depend on where the pump is mounted in the engine bay of course as to how bad the labor is going to be, but if I recall correctly the 2.4 is a four-cylinder engine so shouldn't be too bad to get to. A reconditioned pump would save substantially over a new one.

  1. Tires

Replacing tires is just a fact of life of car ownership and unless you are only planning on running the car for a few months you'll need to do this at some point anyway. As a relatively known quantity I'd just label this as something essential to do but that should be done only after the other mechanical issues are resolved.

  1. Brakes

Assuming this is a wear-related issue as opposed to something having gone wrong with the braking system then this is the same as tires really.

  1. Shock Absorbers

Oh dear.. the list of essentials continues to mount. Replacement shocks are quite expensive and even assuming the best case of only one really needing replacement you should replace the pair at minimum (unless the other side happens to be relatively new)

  1. Valve cover gasket, 11.Oil pan gasket, & 12.Oil cooler “O” ring

All relatively minor parts - and relatively easy to change on an I4 configuration engine. Probably the easiest mechanical bits to DIY

  1. Air filters

Just a simple service item - this would be cheap and easy to change. A pattern part filter and about half an hour and this is done.

As to whether you should do all of the above - only you can really decide that I'm afraid. In my opinion the cumulative list is a bit too big for my liking and unless you have good mechanical skills yourself or access to cheap labor this is going to mount up to quite an expensive enterprise on a 12 year old car that, no disrespect isn't anything special. If you were having to pay full labor rates somewhere I'd be surprised if you could get this list done for much cheaper then you would pay to pick up something else already roadworthy.

  • 3
    This is why I love this forum. The people here are so willing to help and extremely technically capable!
    – Nav
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 12:14
  • 2
    Just a warning about the "clutch" item - if it is failing mechanically (e.g. the release bearing) in the worst case you may find you need some gearbox repairs as well (or a reconditioned box, or take your chance with one from a breaker's yard). There is no way to tell for sure until you have removed the clutch. If it's something "simple" like a clutch fluid leak, this is unlikely to apply of course. (Note, I don't know anything specific about the particular make/model of car)
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 12:38
  • @alephzero Agreed that would start having massive ramifications for the cost of the work if that were discovered to be the case, fortunately in my experience that sort of failure where the 'box itself gets damages is quite rare but you're right in that it's a possibility! Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 12:48
  • 3
    Something else to mention about the A/C ... I believe in this year (and some others) they can suffer from "Black Death" where a black gooey substance will be in the refrigerant lines. You pretty much have to replace the ENTIRE system in order to fix it (or spend MANY hours scouring the inside of the lines). It's an arduous and expensive process, if the stuff hasn't killed the compressor already. Just thought I'd mention. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 17:41
  • 1
    Eek, didn't know these suffer with that, firms up my opinion that beyond a regas chasing aircon issues is a rabbit hole filled with disappointment and burning money! Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 20:06

Short answer: No, unless you are willing to risk spending more than the car is worth.

Long answer: A CR-V in good condition is probably worth about $5000 at most, that's nothing to sniff at but you could easily spend most of that fixing a car with a load of serious problems. Some of this is cheap and do it yourself if you have the skills, time and place to do it: air filters, oil gaskets, brake pads and bleeding. Tires are not a DIY thing but there's a lot of variability on price so you shouldn't do too bad.

Some of it is less cheap and easy but still do-able if you've got reasonable mechanic skills: Clutch replacement, power steering, brake caliper replacement, radio work

Some of it is expensive even if you do the work yourself: 4 shocks will set you back $800 just for the parts

What really gives me a moment of pause are the following:

  • AC: this could be really easy or really expensive. If the system just needs a re-charge you can do that yourself for not much money and barely any tools. If the pump, heat exchanger, clutch, piping, or any parts have gone then it's a specialist job and a grand to fix minimum
  • Rust: this will be expensive to fix, how expensive depends on how bad it is and where it is. Cosmetic stuff can often be grinded out or panels replaced, which will not be cheap. You don't have to do it but you won't have any resale value unless you do. Rust on the frame compromises the ability of the car to absorb energy in an accident and therefore safety, therefore it must be repaired. Serious frame rust will easily cost more than the car is worth
  • Clutch and transmission: a slipping clutch or transmission can be relatively easy and cheap to fix or it can take you back $1500 easy
  • The unknowns: this is what you know is wrong with the car, I'd put serious money on there being a lot more things being wrong. You could find that the tie rods are shot, your piston rings are worn, valves burnt, etc. Fix all the problems that you known and then your differential goes and your exhaust system drops out of the bottom

I'd say don't take the car, it sounds like a rabbit hole of potential expensive problems. Best case with doing all the work you can yourself is you would spend upwards of $2000 getting it in usable shape and its still a rust-bucket. If it was a classic it would probably be worth it, but not a 12 year old CR-V. It's a big risk, cheap cars have a way of becoming expensive.

  • 2
    Since the OP is being "given" the car (presumably free) then the financial decision amounts to "if it didn't have any problems, would you want to buy it for the cost of fixing everything on that shopping list of repairs?" That's hard to answer with virtually no information in the OP, but it could end up more expensive than buying the equivalent 12 year old model from a car dealer! Of course if you decide to use it as a 6-month-long "teach yourself car mechanics" learning experience, that might lead to a different decision.
    – alephzero
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 12:47
  • That's pretty much how I would put it @alephzero, the one thing I would say is that if I was going to pick up a car to learn on I would choose one without rust problems.
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 13:10

"what should I be thinking of to determine if it's worthwhile?"

It depends on your goal.

If you're going to fix it to sell it you need to figure out how much it is to fix and compare that to how much you can sell it for. No one here can tell you how much it's going to cost to fix.

If you want experience fixing cars this is a great project! You will get a lot of good experience - mechanical, hydraulics, electronics, body work. It's great learning vehicle - it's not worth much and you don't have much money in it (to start) so it's a great vehicle to learn on.

If your goal is to have a reliable daily driver or hand it off to a child, is this the car you want to spend your money on?

Once you fix the items on your list, those components will be good and the car will last until the next thing goes bad. This is also true of any other used car - you don't know what's wrong with it - maybe something, maybe nothing. It's the chance you take when you don't have a warranty.

Cars can last quite a long time if they are maintained. Fix these items, take a look around at what else might go wrong and have it checked out. If all is good you've got a vehicle that can last another 10 years or more.

Start with your goal and go from there.


Wow,I love this topic and answers.Great!!! You should thought about the cost for so many parts as well as the safety.For example ,the cheapest tires online like below this one https://www.hexautoparts.com/rear-atv-tires-2-6-ply-25x10-12-for-arctic-canam-honda-kawasaki-polaris-yamaha.html is about $125,if you go to the dealer ,will pay twice or more.Plus the a/c,clutch,power steering,brakes and so on , the cost is over $2000 in total at least. If you don't have any mechanic skills,you also need to pay to the local mechanic then fix the problem.Anyway,it is not wise to so ,right ?


What do you mean by "worth it"? If you're getting a car for free that moves under its own power, then it's fantastic - you don't look a gift horse in the mouth, after all. However, is it worth fixing those things on a 12 year old Honda CR-V? Doubtful. Items 1, 2 and 4 are the biggest things on your list, and often cost $1000 to repair properly (which is more than the car is worth). The rest of it can be done with cheap or even used parts (such as tires online ) to keep the cost down and to keep the car driving safely for as long as you need it to. If it's free, take it, but don't spend a penny trying to make it a nice car. Just use it until it dies.


As for A/C system, i supposed that you need spend lots of money on replacing the whole system. If you can do it by youself, maybe you can save more money. Good luck man!


Yes as its free , being a Honda thats allot to have wrong at one time . It seems as if the poor car has been neglected for a long time for it to have all these issues at once. Its general wear and tear that has been left untouched that will only get worse the longer you leave it . I myself have a Honda CRV and its one of the best cars ive ever had mine is a 2003 and never have any problems . They are well known for being a very reliable car as long as they are looked after . So my honest opinion is yes have it for free spend the money and have a reliable car that once fixed will last many years to come . Hope this helps

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