RECENTLY I went to buy a new $27,000 Honda HR-V for my wife. Back in 2010 we bought a new Toyota Yaris, which has always been serviced by the Toyota dealer, and the best offer we could get as a trade-in on a new HR-V was $3500. The high changeover price threw a bucket of water over the new car idea, so we’ll be looking for a good second-hand car now.

And it’s a real eye-opener looking at the second-hand market. It would seem that eBay, Gumtree, Carsales and Facebook are the places to buy and sell used vehicles. Talking to some of my friends, they say Facebook works well because it reaches people in your area and just about any registered roadworthy car will sell for $4-5K.

Many years ago we gave a young guy our old Commodore when he needed a car for his job.

Some years later he’s prospering, and bought a brand new Mustang. The Ford dealer offered him a paltry $1500 as a trade-in on his Territory, so he gave it to my son. What goes around comes around.

My son accepted the Ford and we’re now working out what to do with it. It has the Ford factory built-in diff clunk, and a dozen other things to fix up.

One of the things we had to fix was the driver’sside window – it wouldn’t go down. We took the panel off the door and found the switch was faulty; there was nothing wrong with the winder mechanism. So my son phoned the wreckers, but they had no window master switches; it appears it is a common problem with late-model Fords.

We pulled the plastic switch apart and thought it might have been the rocker contactors, but no. Even directly connecting one terminal to the other didn’t work. It must be in the little electronic board, and it’s going to cost $50 to get a new switch.

Another problem was the master cylinder; it needed a new one and you can’t get a rebuild kit for them. The cheapest new one we could get is $270. One place we called wanted $600 for one – must have been gold-plated!

New rear brake pads were only $55. Changing brake pads and master cylinders is a pretty easy job that anyone can do. Maybe bleeding the brakes is a bit tricky for some, but there’s some really good ‘how-to’ info on the internet these days to help.

Most of the work on the Territory we can do ourselves. However to get the rear bushes done by someone with a hoist and cradle, who can drop the rear end out and knock the job over in a couple of hours, is going to cost around $1100. And the rest of the work is going to cost Dad around $1500 to get the car roadworthy and registered.

So the decision we’re facing is: Should we do the Territory up or simply sell it for parts?

One wrecker has offered $1000 for the car and I wouldn’t be surprised if it could be sold for $1500 on the internet for parts. But if we spend $2600 on it we will have a car that will sell for $5000. It is in really good condition.

My son is in his last year of uni and I was enjoying working on the car with him while he was on holidays. There wouldn’t be many other fathers these days who can relate to working on cars with their offspring. I was thinking it is not confined to sons either; I know a family who are tickled pink that their daughter has an apprenticeship. At school she chose to do trade

subjects and did work experience, rebuilding hydraulic cylinders and auto electrical work. She will do well in her trade and make her parents proud. Lots of women are pretty handy with the spanners.

Fixing the Territory made me think about working on my 308 HZ Premier wagon. An old Holden or Ford is so cheap and easy to repair compared to the late-model cars. For instance, to get the HZ master cylinder re-sleeved and rebuilt only cost $170. There’s no electronics, like the ABS wheel sensors that plague the late-model Holdens, for instance. And the Rochester carburettor mightn’t get the good fuel economy of EFI, but it’s so easy to throw a new gasket kit in them every now and then. A top and bottom radiator hose for the HZ only costs $15 each.

Something I can’t speak of highly enough is the Swedishmade CTEK 12-volt battery charger. They don’t look like much, but the ‘smart’ trickle-charger keeps the HZ wagon battery like new. In the past the chargers I’ve used have stuffed the battery. I’m not sure how old the HZ battery is, but the guy that put me onto the CTEK chargers says his battery is five years old and still starting his car fine.

The downside to my old HZ is it doesn’t have cruise control, and the air conditioner needs regassing. I tried to sell it a couple of times for $10K but no one wanted to buy it. Guess I’ll just have to keep driving it! s