Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Fix it or Forget it: How to Determine When to Spend Money on Your Old Car

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black car mechanic

*You have fond memories of buying your last car. It was November 2008 and Barack Obama was just elected president. You remember driving her home and showing off your new wheels to the neighbors and promising to take good care of her for as long as possible.

Fast forward 10 years, and while you still adore your car, she is definitely starting to show her age. It seems that every month something is breaking or dripping, causing you to open your pocketbook for unnecessary repairs. Still, as much as it pains you to think about trading her in, you’re slowly coming around to the idea that it may be time to buy a new car.

Fix it or forget it? Here’s a look at when it makes sense to keep investing in your old car and when it’s time to bite the proverbial bullet and buy a new one.

Weigh Repair Costs Versus a Monthly Car Payment

Is the amount you spend every month on auto maintenance more expensive than a car payment? If you answered “yes,” then it may be time to invest in a new ride altogether.

To give yourself a more definitive answer, however, look online at some different makes and models that interest you and note their prices. Then, using a trusty car payment calculator — and factoring in the interest rates you’re finding on online car sites — you can determine how much you would have to shell out on a new vehicle.

For example, if you determine future car payments will run you $550 per month for the next five years and your month-to-month repair bills are comparable, it’s probably time to say goodbye to your beloved car. Of course, if you run the numbers and find your repair liability is less than half of a new car payment, you may be able to hang onto your car a bit longer.

Estimate How Long Your Car Will Last

Ever wonder how much longer your 10-year-old car with 220,000 miles will last on the road? One surefire way is to look at some recent service invoices. If you recently sprung for new brakes, fan belts and a battery, your car should be able to chug along on these fresh parts for a while longer. Plus, you want to get your money’s worth for all of these tune-ups.

On the flip side, if your car is about 2,000 to 5,000 miles away from its next major service appointment and you have several other pending repairs, it might make sense to buy a new car now and let the new owner be on the hook for the next round of repairs. The same is true for your tires; if you come to the difficult conclusion that you’ll be purchasing a new car in the next few weeks, it doesn’t make much sense to invest in new tires.

But if you plan to hang onto it for a while longer and the treads are worn significantly, your best bet would be to invest in some new tires. To save yourself some money, check for deals on new tires through an online retailer like, where can choose from a number of high-quality tires that will keep your car safe on the road until you plan to sell it.

Take a Look at Any Upcoming Bills

Before you decide to keep or sell your old car, take an honest look at your upcoming bills. If your property tax bill is due in the next few months or know your home needs a new roof, it might not be the best time to spring for a new vehicle. Instead, save that extra sum of money for these more pressing obligations and look to repair or replace your car at a more opportune time.

Know That It’s a Tough Decision

Once you take a close look at the financials and any recent and anticipated maintenance costs, you should have a good idea if it’s time to bid your old vehicle a fond farewell. If you do decide to buy a new car, thank your old one for her reliable service all these years and welcome in your new set of wheels.


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