Your aging car has served you well for many years, but it is nearing the end of its usefulness. High mileage, frequent repairs, and a depleted budget have you looking at late-model used cars and even a handful of new vehicles. You’re not sure if you should fix your car or replace it — here’s how to make that determination.
Age Before Beauty
Any car that is at least 10 years old has seen a lot of life. Today’s car is much more reliable than ever before and should give owners many years of driving satisfaction. At the same time there comes a tipping point where the repairs outweigh the expense of maintaining a car.
That tipping point is not easy to pinpoint and can vary depending on the age, make and model, and the odometer reading for your car. Figure that any car that is in the shop every other month and has repairs averaging $200 to $300 each time it is taken in defines a money pit. Sure, you may pay more to buy a newer vehicle, but the inconvenience of taking your car to the shop has to be considered as well.
The Extent of Your Repairs
If you’re able to handle most repairs yourself, then getting another vehicle may not be a problem, especially if you enjoy working on cars. Then again, if your car breaks down in the winter and you don’t have the warmth of a garage to handle the repairs, even the simple work can present a drag.
More difficult work such as engine or transmission work may be beyond your capabilities. A blown head gasket will be costly, but if the engine is shot you’re looking at a $4,000 replacement.
If the repairs involve bodywork, you may find that you don’t have the equipment to handle the work. In this case, contacting local collision repair shops is advised. Obtain estimates from at least three companies, review the same, then determine if the repairs are warranted explains Caliber Collision.
Time is of the Essence
Even the most capable weekend mechanic will tell you that working on a car takes time. You not only need to know what you’re doing, but you have to devote many hours to researching repair options, ordering parts, and fixing your vehicle.
And even when the car is fixed, you have no guarantee that something won’t go wrong. Nor do you have a warranty for the work you performed. You will have saved on labor, but obtaining quality parts may be beyond what you can find and afford.
Considering a Replacement
So far, we have looked at how to repair your car. Now, we’ll turn our attention to replacing it with something that is reliable.
Here, you need to survey the market and determine if you want to purchase new or used. You’ll also need to narrow your choices down to a body style and eventually make and model.
Once you know the type of vehicle you want, you’ll need to figure out its market value. Checking dealer websites is one option; visiting Kelley Blue Book to obtain pricing information is important too.
You should also determine whether you will pay cash for the vehicle or finance it. If financing, the more money you can put down, the lower your monthly payment. Financing can be obtained through your bank or credit union. Your car dealer can arrange to finance too.
Once you have a budget in place, you’re ready to shop for a new vehicle. Go in with your best negotiation skills at work and determination to find a vehicle that suits your needs and meets your budget. It is at this point you might trade in your old car, sell it separately or donate it to a charity.