Should I Repair or Just Replace My Old Car?

One of the simple pleasures in life is not paying for your car every month. Your safe trip pays off with only gas, insurance and repairs paid.

But over time, the volume of these repairs begins to accumulate, and even scheduled maintenance costs hundreds of dollars. Your ride doesn’t seem as reliable as it used to be. Is it time to give up the trip and buy a new car or hold out for a long time?

It might seem like a fine line between when your old, beloved car is costing you more money than a new one, but it’s not hard to make a call here. This is part math and part just a good look at your personal situation. In the end, both factors should determine if your future will be a new (or new to you) car, or if you should stick to your proven ride until the wheels fall off.

How much do you pay for the service?

The first and possibly the biggest question you should ask is how much do you pay for repairs? Even a couple hundred dollars for regular maintenance every few months is less than any new (or used!) Car.

If you want to save money on regular maintenance, the best way is to start doing it yourself. Simple things that you probably pay your dealer or mechanic for like changing oils, checking fluids (and adding more at low levels), replacing spark plugs, and replacing air filters can all be easily done on your own with a little research. …

Look for instructional videos for the make, model and year of your vehicle, or check your Haynes manual for your vehicle for extensive information on how to make your own repairs. Chances are, someone online has detailed instructions on how to get the job done, and some things – like changing the oil or changing the air filter – are so simple that you’d be surprised you paid someone else to do them. … you.

How much do you pay for repairs?

Of course, bigger problems that you are not comfortable solving alone (or that you think are not worth your time compared to your money) should be handled by a mechanic you trust .

In addition to regular maintenance, there are a few things to consider before agreeing to overhaul.

Is a new car repair less than a few months’ payment?

If the repair costs less than one month and your car has paid off, that’s not a problem. If you have less than a couple of months left and you think you can get by for a while without the additional costs of repairs or maintenance, it makes sense to go ahead and do the repairs.

Problems arise when you have more months when your car needs repairs than months when it doesn’t. “If repair costs regularly look like car payments, it might be time to move on,” said Tom McParland of Automatch Consulting’s car buying service (and a writer at Jalopnik ).

Repairing less than half the market value of a car?

If so, then you better get busy with the renovation. For more sporadic repairs or maintenance that you may have neglected, if you take your car to a mechanic and they charge you $ 1,500 for a $ 4,000 vehicle, you’re probably still better off getting the job done. However, if you know your car is only around $ 2,000, it probably doesn’t make much sense unless you can spread that repair over a period of time that makes it worthwhile and financially feasible for you.

Investments in repairs can also increase the selling or selling value of your used vehicle. If you are unsure of the market value of your car and are not sure if you are driving a real junk, check out Edmunds’ Used Car Pricing Tool or its value in Kelly’s Blue Book .

If you’re still weighing the issue, AGCO Auto has a detailed calculator to help you weigh the cost of maintaining your vehicle versus buying a new one.

How much is your peace of mind worth?

Of course, there is no guarantee that a new (or newer) car will not break down or have the same repair costs as your current one, but most likely it will not. You really need to consider some of the “softer” costs and benefits of owning a new car.

Ideally, you will save yourself the hassle of having to go to the mechanic that comes with high-mileage cars and will probably get a safer, more fuel-efficient vehicle by buying something new. Reliability and reliability are expensive.

At the same time, if you have a good and honest mechanic and the repair you choose will extend the life of your current car for years, your current ride can be as reliable and reliable as a new one. The average age of a car in the United States is now over 10 years , which is higher than ever. With the right care and maintenance, yours can last just as long or longer.

Consider your budget

Finally, think about your budget. Even new cars sometimes have unexpected repair costs, and there is a big difference between a $ 500 monthly car payment and a $ 500 sudden repair.

McParland advised finding out if you can afford a reliable replacement before ditching your old car. “If the budget doesn’t allow for a more reliable and better car, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know,” he said.

However, we will repeat one thing: don’t let the broken machine make the decision for you. You should try to call to get a new car before your old one gives up completely. Of course, a catastrophic breakdown will make the decision for you, but ideally, you shouldn’t have to wait for that to happen to make plans for the future.

This story was originally published on 04/29/13 and updated on 10/23/19 to provide more complete and up-to-date information.


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