Is it time to say goodbye to “old faithful”? Like everything else in this world, cars don’t last forever. While you may be proud of your faithful 200,000-mile vehicle, it could be more trouble than it’s worth.
There are many reasons why you may want to replace your vehicle, including practical, financial, safety, drivability, and pleasure motives.
Should I Repair or Replace My Vehicle?
If you are thinking about repairing or replacing your car, this post will teach you how to save money when making your next car repair or car purchase. However, nobody knows your vehicle better than you do. Use the following tips as a guide not a gospel.
Cost of repairs
Car maintenance and repairs are unavoidable, but sometimes there is a major repair that gets you wondering if you should simply invest in a new car.
Small repairs and regular maintenance aren’t anything to worry about. It’s the costly repairs that start you thinking about whether you should replace the car or not.
Although it’s almost always cheaper to repair a car than to buy a new one, some repairs, such as replacing a failed transmission can run upwards of $3,000. At this point, you could buy a used vehicle for the same amount and probably save a lot of money in the long run.
Keep in mind that math can only take you so far. In addition to the price of repairs, you’ll want to take other things into consideration, including what you still owe on the vehicle, type of repair, repair frequency, and your vehicle’s worth.
Research market value of your car
If you want to find the estimated value of your car, visit Kelley Blue Book* or contact Auto Simple to find out the sale and trade-in values of your vehicle.
You can even find out what your vehicle is worth without leaving the comfort and convenience of your home. Fill out our online form and we’ll send you an estimated appraisal within 48 hours.
Repairs are more than 50% of the vehicle’s worth
As soon as you start considering a repair that is more than half of the vehicle’s market value, you should start comparing the pros and cons of purchasing a vehicle.
For instance, if your car is only worth $3,000 and you are faced with repairs that are over $1,500, it may be time to start looking for a trade-in deal at your local used car lot. But, if your vehicle is worth more than $4,000, you may want to research the matter further to make the best decision.
It doesn’t make much sense to pay for a repair that is over half of the value of car when there is a high likelihood that another costly repair will soon be on its way. But first, you need to know the value of your vehicle (as is, without the repair(s)) and the likelihood of future repairs.
If your repair is more than 50% of the cost to replace, start researching sale and trade-in values to see how much your old car can serve as a down payment for a new one.
Repairs are more than the vehicle is worth
The choice is simple when faced with a repair that equals or exceeds the market value of your vehicle. Find out what your vehicle is worth and if your repair is close to or exceeds that amount, you should definitely look into replacement options.
Use the money you get from your car sale or trade-in toward the purchase of your next vehicle.
Consider future repairs
Will your repair be the last one for a while? If you have a reliable mechanic who is warning you of likely upcoming repairs, you should take those recommendations into consideration. If this big repair seems like the beginning of a whole host of new problems, consider replacement.
A vehicle can be as much of a money pit as a home. Be wary of vehicle troubleshooting and diagnostics that warn of impending problems for your vehicle, such as new tires and brakes. Take the time to get a second or third opinion on the matter so you know if these forecasts are reliable or not. Factor them into your decision.
Get a second and third opinion
We’ve already shared some tips for finding a good, honest mechanic, but it’s worth going over again to get the most accurate representation of your vehicle’s state.
Even if you’ve found a mechanic you can trust, before you make a decision on whether you should repair, replace, sell, or trade in your used vehicle, get a second or third opinion on the recommended service and repairs. For any major decision like this, don’t rely on one opinion.
Your mechanic may also be able to provide information on whether or not the repair or upgrade will significantly increase your selling or trade-in value. You may be able to get a return on investment.
Determine your maintenance and repair costs
Create a calendar and plan for future repairs so you know what to expect and when. It can help you budget for future repairs and give you an idea of the cost and likelihood of future car costs.
Consult your owner’s manual and past maintenance/repair history reports to create a calendar of likely repairs over the next couple of years.
Are you spending more than $300/month to keep your car running? If so, do the math on getting a more reliable and fuel-efficient vehicle.
Increased safety and reliability
Personal safety and job security also rely on a dependable mode of transportation. If you are worrying about your car starting every morning, consider the added benefits of safety and reliability.
For many people, not having a reliable car means missing work and possibly losing a job. If you have been late or missed work too often, you may want to consider the extra benefit of reliable car for work and career purposes.
Lifestyle changes often dictate the need for a new vehicle, such as longer/shorter commutes and the need for more space. If your family has expanded in size or you have a new job that requires a different vehicle, a more suitable vehicle type is probably needed.
The older your car is and the older your car gets, the less fuel efficient it is likely to be. While there are some things to increase the fuel efficiency of your vehicle, if it’s a gas guzzler, you may want to consider purchasing a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Add up your monthly operation costs and use this fuel cost calculator to compare it with the estimated monthly fuel costs for your new vehicle.
If you want the newest car technologies and features, such as cameras, sound systems, and GPS, you may want to look for a new vehicle that satisfies your requirements.
Looking for a change
Sometimes, you just want a change. If you are looking for a big change in your life, a different vehicle can make you feel like a brand new person.
Reasons for Repair:
- Purchasing a new car takes time and energy. If you want to get back on the road as soon as possible, it’s probably faster to pay for a repair.
- You have a sentimental attachment to your old car. Whether it’s the first car you paid for on your own as an adult, a gift from a grandparent who has passed, or simply carries many pleasant memories, there are many emotional reasons why you may want to stick to the car you’ve known for many years.
- Make sure you have enough to make a good down payment (around 20%). While the cost of repair could be thousands of dollars, which would be a really nice down payment on a car, you probably still have to worry about monthly payments.
- Sometimes your insurance increases when you get a new car. Factor the cost of insurance into the repair-or-replace equation.
Tips for Purchasing Your Next Car
Don’t buy new! Buy used!
New car depreciation is shocking! A new car loses around 10-15% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. New cars lose around 20-25% of their value within the first year.
According to CarFax, “new cars continue to lose value for four more years, averaging a decline of 15-25 percent per year. On average, a new car will lose 60 percent of its total value over the first five years of its life.”
Keep in mind that older and foreign cars tend to have higher repair costs. When shopping for a new vehicle, factor in operational and depreciation costs.
Be wary of private buying and private selling
There are many risks involved with private car sales. We recommend either avoiding the situation entirely by working with a used car lot or being extremely careful and diligent when dealing with private sellers or buyers.
Avoid the hassle of posting on Craigslist and simply visit one of our locations in Tennessee and Georgia for a quick and easy transaction.
Buy used car in full
The best way to replace your current car is by selling or trading in your current vehicle in order to pay for a used car upfront. By choosing a car that you can afford to pay for upfront, you will own the car rather the car owning you. Then, save the money that you would have spent on your monthly car payments for future repairs and/or your next vehicle.
The worst (most expensive) way to purchase a car is to lease a new car. Not only will new cars lose around 22% of its value over the first year, your lease payments will also be covering the car’s depreciation and the dealer’s/loaners profits.
Try not to go into debt over a car. Use cash if you can for the best deal. If you must “rent” a car, lease a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle instead.
First, you should know your credit rating. While your credit rating will affect your loan approvals and interest rates, there are some car dealers, such as Auto Simple that provide competitive financing ratings for any approval rating.
Still, you want to make sure you can afford the car. Use a car affordability calculator or contact your local Auto Simple representative. If you are trading in your vehicle, get a quote from us so you can subtract the trade-in value from the estimated car budget.
Read our Used Car Buyer’s Guide for more tips on shopping for a used vehicle.
Tips for Extending Vehicle Lifespans
If you aren’t quite ready to say goodbye to the car that has served you so well over the years, then here are some tips for extending its lifespan and stalling some of those common repairs:
- Use your owner’s manual to stay up on all the proper maintenance for your vehicle, including fluid changes and other regular service intervals. It’s a good idea to schedule calendar reminders for all your important car maintenance so you never forget.
- You can also conduct some regular maintenance for your vehicle on your own. Reference your owner’s manual for information on replacing fluids, such as motor oil and coolant. Read our blog post for more information on regular vehicle maintenance.
- Learn what your vehicle dashboard signs and symbols mean. Some can be ignored while others are much more important to pay attention to.
- If you don’t know what’s wrong with your car, use the internet and online forums, such as CarTalk to try and figure out the problem.
- Avoid getting scammed by mechanics by learning what to bring with you and what to look out for when shopping around for a mechanic.
The decision whether to repair or replace your vehicle can be difficult. It involves math, your current situation, and many other factors.
Before you sink more money into your vehicle, contact Auto Simple for a free vehicle appraisal.
Not only do we pay top dollar for your used vehicle, we also can get you a better deal on trading in your old car for one of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.
It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3:
- Visit one of our locations
- Receive a top dollar offer
- Sell of trade in your car and get paid on the spot
Contact Auto Simple or visit one of our convenient locations:
Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600
Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600
Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600
Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)
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* We provide the Kelley Blue Book link for research and reference purposes only. Kelley Blue Book is not affiliated with this site in any way. Representations made regarding products and services provided by third parties are governed by the policies and representations made by these third parties.