That's a difficult question that we help our customers with every day.
We've been helping car owners with that decision for over 10 years and we've identified 5 questions we think you should consider when you're confronted with this decision. If you are faced with a major repair such as an engine or transmission replacement, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does my vehicle still perform the task I bought it to do (family car, work truck, etc)? If my driving needs have changed, is it time for a different vehicle? For example...if I drive a sports car and I just had twins, a mini-van would be more practical.
2. Do I feel safe and secure while driving it; or do I constantly worry it might break down?
3. Do I feel embarrassed while driving it?
4. Has it been routinely maintained; or have I allowed other needed repairs to build up?
5. Was I already preparing to buy another car; or do I just want an excuse to buy another vehicle?
Call us and we'll help with more "common sense" questions that may help you make the final decision. But first, here are 6 more things to consider:
1. Do your best to make this decision with your head rather than your heart. Why? Because your emotions tell you it feels good to have a new car, and then it’s too late when the reality sets in and you have to make the down payment, pay for the tax and license, and begin making 48, 60, or 72 monthly payments.
2. If you are considering a used vehicle, you are assuming the risk of any needed repairs to that vehicle plus the added cost of the purchase.
3. In most cases, you will end up paying for the repair to your current vehicle, anyhow. If you trade it in or sell it “as is”, you will get less for it than if it was fixed. Not to mention, you might get less for it because you’re in a rush to sell it. At least if you fix it, you can drive out some or all of the cost of the repair and take your time in selecting your next car. It’s easier to drive out the full value of a large repair bill than it is to drive out the full value of the cost of replacing a vehicle.
4. It is difficult to financially justify replacing a vehicle that's been well-maintained even when it’s in need of a major repair like an engine or a transmission replacement.
5. Most of us look at our expenses on a monthly basis. We develop a "feel" for how payments will fit into a monthly budget...cable, phone, rent, mortgage, and/or car payments. You should look at car maintenance and repairs the same way and put them into your monthly budget, as well.
6. A QUALITY REPAIR is almost always your least expensive approach if you keep your vehicle for a year or longer.
Just as a surgeon wants a patient to take a physical before an operation to discover other potential problems, we think the same logic works when trying to decide if it makes economic sense to do a major repair on your vehicle. We have a calculator tool to help you with forecasting the cost of fixing and keeping your car versus replacing it with a new or used one.