Vehicle repair costs can be expensive, especially as a vehicle gets older and more things start wearing down regularly. The age old question of whether to buy or fix becomes extremely relevant when crafting a vehicle budget. Click here or basic maintenance tips that can be done at home.
Things to Consider
Before any conclusion is made about whether or not to buy or sell, first consider the ways in which your vehicle is driven, and what the end of life goal is for it:
- Do I make long commutes on a regular basis? If so, then the fuel savings of a newer, more efficient, vehicle should be taken into account. A newer vehicle may burn half the fuel of your old one, depending on your vehicles make and wear.
- Are my kids going to need to learn to drive soon? If yes, then you should nearly always fix your old vehicle. New drivers are very likely to get into at least one fender bender in their first few years of driving. It's better for the old car to get a scratch or ding, then a brand new one.
- Has the vehicle been properly serviced for its whole life? If so, then your old vehicle will have many fewer repairs then one that has seen sporadic or non-existent maintenance over the years. Regular basic maintenance is essential for a long lasting car.
When to buy
There are two situations in which buying a new vehicle is likely the better option compared to fixing the old one:
- Catastrophic breakage of key components: If the transmission breaks, or the engine seizes it will likely be more practical to get a new (or used) vehicle instead of repairing the old one. An engine or transmission is very expensive repair.
- Long commutes with a older vehicle that is starting to break down: Getting a new vehicle in this situation is a bit of a gamble, as it assumes that fixing the old vehicle will become a large cost in the coming months or years. A newer, more fuel efficient vehicle could cut fuel costs in half compared to driving the old one, but a cost analysis should be done to ensure that the thousands being spent on the new vehicle will be recouped in a reasonable time span through the money saved on fuel and repairs.
When to Fix
As a general rule of thumb (disregarding catastrophic failure to an engine or transmission - or massive body damage) it is better to fix then repair.
If proper maintenance schedules are observed, vehicle maintenance should not be a large expense. Once a vehicle leaves it manufacturer's warranty period, talk to your mechanic about what sort of long term repairs need to be done, such as timing belts or wheel bearings.
Also stay educated on your vehicle and know what are proper driving cycles are (how long of periods you should drive before taking the vehicle in for service). Preemptive maintenance is always better the repairing damage that has already been done.