My Car Broke Down: Should I Fix it or Buy a New One?

October 12th, 2018 by

Imagine it’s Friday and you’re headed to the office. It’s a good morning, the kind when signals stay green, traffic flows easily, and your voice stays on key while singing to with the songs on the radio. Then, something happens and you’re on the side of the road with a car that won’t budge. Again.

This isn’t the first time you’ve been in this situation, but you obviously don’t want to go through it again. Is now the time to buy a new car (or at least one that’s new to you)? We’ve assembled the following guide to help you decide whether to repair your ride or throw in the towel and get something new.

What is Broken and How Much Will It Cost to Fix?

Your first step is to learn more about what is wrong with your car. Who do you trust to help you find out? Whether you take your car to a trusted mechanic or to the dealership, it’s time for your car to make the trip there and get diagnosed.

Is the repair a simple one? Some repairs like replacing the battery or brake pads are easy and inexpensive. Repairs to your electrical system, coolant system, transmission, or other complex systems become expensive quickly and often require an expert.

What Have You Spent on Your Car in the Last 12 Months?

Another factor to take into consideration is how much you spend each year on maintenance and upkeep for your current ride. For the average owner of a sedan, the cost is almost $10,000 per year to own, drive, and keep the car maintained. These costs include fuel, tires, insurance, depreciation, and regular maintenance. The older your car gets, the more regular maintenance will cost.

Has your car stalled and left you stranded or refused to start when you’re in a hurry more than once? Add up the cost of all the repairs you’ve completed during the last 12 months – you’ll use this number in calculations after the next step.

What is Your Current Car Worth?

We’re sure you know exactly how much you paid for your car originally. Are you still making payments each month? Do you know how much it would be worth if you were to sell it today to a car dealership or to a friend who lives down the street?

Get an estimate of what your car is worth by visiting the Kelley Blue Book’s website. When you answer the basic questions about your car, you’ll get an estimated trade-in value range. This range helps you negotiate a fair price when you are selling or trading in your car.

If you’d rather have someone evaluate your car in person, stop by and see us in Woodbridge during or hours of operation. While you’re here, one of our experts can check out your car’s trade-in value and you can see what your options are for buying something new.

What Does the Math Say?

Once you’ve got all the numbers in place – it’s time to do the math. Start with what your car is worth and then compare the cost of the repair. If the repair is less than half of what your car is worth, then repairing it is probably a smart decision for now. However, if what is broken is indicative of more problems or bigger repairs on the horizon, you may want to factor in the cost of the additional repairs.

Is the repair more than half of what your car is worth? It’s probably time to get something new to you. However, if you can break the cost of the repair up over time it may be worth repairing if it’s a high-value car or if the repair will add additional value to the car.

Let’s look at two examples.

First, imagine you are driving a 2012 Honda Accord Coupe with 120,000 miles on it. The radiator needs replaced and it’s estimated to cost about $650 to replace it. When you research your car on the Kelley Blue Book website, it says it is currently worth approximately $5,000-6,500. The repair may not add to the value of the car, but repairing it won’t cost anywhere near half the value of the car.

Second, imagine your car is much older this time. Your Honda Accord is now a 2006 Honda Accord Coupe with 220,000 miles on it. It’s Kelley Blue Book value range is from $950-1,850. The cost of the radiator replacement is the same at $650. When you consider the cost of regular maintenance and additional repairs which will be needed due to the car’s age, you’ll probably decide to use the value of the car to trade-in for a car new to you.

What Else Should You Consider?

When considering the repair or replacement of your vehicle, there are often extenuating circumstances to include in your calculations. If your current financial situation or credit score doesn’t allow you to purchase a new vehicle, it’s time to repair. If you’ve got a great relationship with your mechanic or you are a mechanic, repairs may cost you less than the average person.

Are you making a life change which will affect how much you drive? If you’re looking at a shorter commute or walking to work, repairing your car may make sense if it’s no longer a daily driver. Are you driving more or in rougher terrain? Then you may want to take the opportunity to buy a vehicle better suited to the new expectations. If you’re having a baby or your kids are all grown up, what you need in a car may also change.

Still Not Sure What to Do?

If you still aren’t confident to choose between replacing your car or repairing it, come see us. Our service department is open six days a week and we know just how to help. If you’ve got more questions, contact us today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Posted in Tips