Buying a new car is a major step for most people. The problem is that it can be difficult to know the right time to stop pouring money into the old car. While each owner has a different take on the precise moment to make the choice, a few hints can help with the call.
Most of the time, it is cheaper to repair a car than to replace it.
If the car can be put be put back into service for an extended period of time for a few hundred dollars, it is always a good idea to do it. Items like tire replacement or exhaust repair rarely indicate that it is time to change cars. Once these repairs are completed, it can be months or longer before additional trips to the auto repair shop may be needed again.
If the needed repairs are more associated with the auto body, it might be time for a change.
While most modern cars are designed so that the body will outlast the engine and other mechanical parts, this is not always the result. Sometimes harsh weather conditions can shorten the life of the body. Rust and poor paint quality can combine to cause a car to look bad before the drive train fails. Most people do not like to drive a car that others will regard as a rust bucket.
Body work can easily exceed the value of the vehicle.
Unless you are particularly attached to the car, it is not a good financial plan to invest more money in the body than the restored car will be worth. Even light touch up work on an older can can cost a lot of money compared to the car’s value. However, minor body repairs will add value to a car that may make it easier to sell.
The majority of mechanical repairs will not cost more than the value of the car.
Keeping up with minor repairs helps to maintain the value of the car. However, if the car has recently needed many minor repairs and is high mileage, it may be time to replace it before the next round of repairs. When minor repairs start to come in bunches to older vehicles, it usually is not too long until large and expensive repairs will follow.
If you are not prepared to risk spending more to repair the car than it is worth, get a new car.
Once the car breaks down, if you choose not to repair it, you will only get pennies on the dollar for trade or sale without the repairs. What happens to most people is that they wind up spending the big money to get the car repaired. After the large outlay of cash, they are reluctant to move the vehicle to another owner. In most instances, this will only lead to another round of small repairs or another big repair. If you can afford it, sell or trade the car before that happens. This way, you can let the money that you will spend for repairs be applied to paying for your next vehicle.