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Repair, Replace, or Recycle? How to Know When to Get Rid of a Car

OK, you might not be in a Barack Obama, ‘hole you could see the road through’ kind of situation with your car. But the question of when to get rid of a car may be currently weighing on your mind.

It’s not easy – it might have been a great runner that was there for you in the good times and the bad. But if the bad times have rolled around for the car, we all have to wonder ‘is my car worth fixing?’

Here’s our guide to knowing whether it’s time to repair, replace or recycle.

How Much is the Car Worth?

Your car may be your lifeline – difficult to put a price on.

But if you’re trying to decide when to get rid of a car, it’s good to know it’s actual dollar value. 

This can help you to weigh up whether it’s actually worth maintaining and repairing it, or it’s turning into a money pit. Turn to an online guide to get a good idea of what your car is worth.

They’ll give you typical values based on the model, age, mileage and condition of your car. This can give you a starting point for your maintenance and repair calculations.

How Much Does It Cost to Maintain?

Assuming your car is paid off, the maintenance costs are your regular outgoings on the vehicle. 

These costs including servicing, tires, bulbs, and fluids that have to be taken care of on a regular basis. Statistics show that once the warranty is over, these costs are usually highest on BMWs, while Lincolns come out the best.

Sit down and calculate how much you spend on regular maintenance. Look back over recent servicing bills to help you, and consider what’s coming up in the service schedule.

As the vehicle ages, major maintenance work such as brakes, gearboxes and power steering components will all need serious attention.

Does It Meet My Needs?

Over time, you may find that a car no longer suits your needs or lifestyle.

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What was an awesome car for a single guy, might be pretty useless for a working dad with a wife and two small kids.

Sentimentality should not dictate here – if your circumstances have changed, it’s time to get a ride to match.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair?

Depending on the make and model, the cost of car repairs can vary wildly.

If you’ve had a quote from a garage for a repair, don’t be afraid to shop around. Once you’ve done your research, compare the costs with the rewards. This will help you to resolve the question – ‘Is my car worth fixing?’.

Once the work is done, you’ll have a car that hopefully works properly. On the other hand, you’ll still have an old car and may well face further issues down the line. 

Financing Repairs

Finance can be a major decision in whether to repair or replace a vehicle. Not having the funds up front to pay for repairs can make scrapping and starting again seem like the easiest option. There are repair finance options though that you should consider before taking this drastic step.

Your local garage may even set up a repayment plan that allows you to pay over time, rather than in a huge, upfront payment.

Math Time

On a spreadsheet, start doing the math.

Build a table to compare the repair costs you know about (plus any scheduled repairs/major maintenance on the horizon), the cost of maintenance, and the actual value of the vehicle.

How’s it looking?

If the repairs and maintenance are still manageable, and they do not exceed the value of the vehicle, then you may think ‘Great! Repairing my car is the way to go.’

Alternatively, you may find that the repairs will cost 50% or more of the value of the car. Older cars usually burn more gas and other fluids, so there are additional expenses to factor in when deciding when to get a new car.

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If your research shows that you’re actually throwing good money after bad, then it’s time to start budgeting for a new car.

How Much Can You Afford to Spend?

When making the decision to repair or replace a car, what you can afford to spend is a major factor.

A repair bill can be scary, especially as they often come out of the blue. That can panic some folks into taking on repayments for a newer car. However, is that really the right option for you?

Only you can answer that question, but the key is – don’t let panic answer it for you.

Sit down, carefully do your research, then do the math. It costs nothing to get quotes for financing a newer car so that you can make an accurate assessment. This may reveal that it’s actually best to move on and start over with a newer car.

If after reading this guide you decide it’s time to scrap your car there are things you can do to make sure you maximize its value. It may be time to say bye-bye, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hear ‘cha-ching’ at the same time.

How to Know When to Get Rid of a Car

It’s never easy to know when to get rid of a car.

That being said, cold hard facts should dictate your decision. Carefully weigh up the costs of maintenance, repairs, your family’s needs, and your personal finances.

Let the facts, rather than emotion make your decision. Whether it’s time to repair and soldier on or scrap and start again, you’ll feel comfortable knowing that you made a considered decision that was best for you and your family.

If you’re not quite at the repair, replace or recycle stage yet but want to keep costs down, in the long run, regular maintenance is the key.

Click here to read our user-friendly guides to automotive maintenance.