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Is It Still Worth It? How To Know When You Should Scrap Your Car

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

If your car breaks down and you are faced with a high repair bill, you may be tempted to scrap your car. It gets tiring pouring your hard earned dollars into an aging machine.

Sure, a new car would be nice, but is it the right time? Are you better off fixing up your old daily driver, or are you really ready for a change?

Everyone’s answer to these questions will be different, but if you keep reading you’ll find out what you need to consider when deciding if you want to scrap your car.

The Cost of Wear and Tear

Even if you take every precaution to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape, high-priced repairs will eventually become unavoidable. With extensive use, parts just wear down over time.

Rubber belts and hoses will begin to crack as they dry out and the metal on your rotors will warp or wear thin. Electrical parts also stop working after a period of time.

One expensive part to fix is the timing belt, which needs to be replaced on most cars when they reach 100,000 miles. If you go to the dealership for your timing belt, they’ll probably also suggest you replace the water pump and the remainder of the drive belts in your vehicle.

For a timing belt package like that, you can expect to pay between $600-1,000. Often times when this repair comes along, it signals to an owner that it’s time to decide what to do with the vehicle long term. Are you going to hand it down to your kids or scrap your car?

Reasons to Fix It

There are many reasons why buying a new car might not be right for you. It is a very expensive commitment. Sometimes fixing your car makes a lot of sense. After all, it is always going to be cheaper to repair your vehicle than get a new one.

You may be looking at the sticker price on a new transmission and think that it would make a nice down payment on a new car. But, you still need to consider the monthly payments, insurance, taxes, and registration fees.

You may also consider fixing your vehicle if you had a timeline in mind for purchasing a new car, but the old one broke down earlier than expected.

By repairing it now, you will be able to stay on the road and avoid the hasty purchase of a new car. It will also allow you more time to save up for the car you really want.

Reasons to Buy a New Vehicle

You have probably already put a lot of money into keeping your car on the road. But as the cost of repairs adds up over time, eventually something has to be the straw that breaks the camels back.

If you’ve been back and forth to the repair shop, and it seems like your vehicle needs constant attention, then it may be time to evaluate the real cost of your used vehicle on you — time and stress.

With a new car, you will have a safe and reliable way to get to work. You won’t have to worry about a random break down for a very long time. Today’s cars also feature enhanced safety features like electronic stability control, blind-spot monitoring, backup cameras, and more.

Things to Consider Before you Scrap Your Car

When you’re at a crossroads and deciding whether or not you want to scrap your car, you may find yourself wishing for a crystal ball. Seeing the future would be nice for knowing whether or not to put more money into your aging vehicle.

But since that’s not possible, you should consider the following things.

Maintenance Costs vs Monthly Payments

The first step you should take when considering if you want to scrap your car is to calculate your car’s current cost of upkeep. How much did you spend last year to keep it running?

You should include ordinary maintenance in your calculations like oil changes and tune-ups as well as the cost of the prospective repairs. When you are considering the cost of potential repairs, you should definitely take the time to get an estimate. It can be difficult to guess the actual price of a fix.

Once you have calculated the cost of your vehicle’s upkeep over the past year, you should divide that number by twelve. This will give you a more accurate idea of what your monthly car payment currently is. Then, once you have that figure, you can decide what is possible within your budget.

Cost of Insurance

If you think you might want to scrap your car, you should consider what the insurance will be on a new one. There is a good chance it will be higher. Many used cars do not require collision insurance if they have been paid off.

Incentives Being Offered

If you are considering a new vehicle, you should look at what kind of incentives are being offered by the dealerships around you. Sometimes rebates are being offered for people to trade in their existing vehicle.

Replacement Options

If you are considering a used vehicle as a replacement option after you scrap your car, you should make sure you evaluate it thoroughly. You don’t want to go from one car with issues, to needing repairs on the replacement vehicle.

Current Car Value

One of the most important pieces of information for you to have about your car is its Kelley Blue Book value. This number tells you what your car is worth right now.

You can plug in the year and make of the vehicle as well as its mileage and wear condition for a relatively accurate figure. But you should note, if your car needs any repair work done, then that number would drop significantly.

Your Car’s History

Another thing you need to consider when parting with your vehicle is what its current condition is. Have you been performing regular maintenance on it? Has it been in an accident? Does it have flood damage?

All of these things will lower the potential trade-in value for your vehicle, making it more likely that you will want to scrap your car.

Past Repairs

Everyone has a tipping point with repairs where they say enough is enough. But you still need to consider how much time and money you have already put into repairing your vehicle.

If you’ve had anything major replaced, you have made a significant investment in keeping your vehicle on the road. But more could be just around the corner.

One of the best ways to estimate the cost of future repairs is by visiting online forums for your vehicle’s make and model. Other owners are happy to share their experiences with their car’s issues in online forums. They can give you an idea of what you are in store for.

Big Ticket Items

The two most costly repairs on your vehicle are the engine and the transmission. If you have already paid to have either replaced, then you should really consider keeping your car.

However, if you have not replaced them, you should consider them ticking time bombs. Most transmissions and engines last for about 15 years or 200,000 miles. If your car is getting up there in age and hasn’t had these parts replaced, it might be a good idea to scrap your car.

The Timeline of the Repair

When you visit an online forum to do your research on your car’s potential problems, you should pay attention to the frequency at which people needed repairs. If it seems like its going to be one thing after another, it’s probably time to cut your losses.

The Car’s Body Condition

If your vehicle has begun to rust, it may be time to scrap your car. Sure, rust on the body of your car doesn’t affect the way it drives, but it does indicate that there may be rust elsewhere.

Rust can hide in less obvious places like the fuel and brake lines of your car. They may be slowly eroding as you read this article.

Safety Features

Beyond the physical aspects of your car, is it safe to drive? Do you have working airbags? Are your seatbelts still working properly? Is there enough tread on your tires? How are your brake pads?

Just because you can drive your car, doesn’t mean you should. You need to consider the safety of your vehicle for yourself, as well as any passengers you might have.

Your Finances

If you had unlimited funds, you probably wouldn’t think twice before you scrap your car. But let’s just assume that you could afford to go out and buy a new vehicle off the lot. Is now a good time for you to take on a new monthly payment?

Ideally, you would buy a new car when you’re good and ready. It’s important to have enough time to get your finances in order to be ready to make payments.

Your Needs

Beyond the condition of the car, you need to consider if it is meeting your needs. Perhaps it is too big and uses a lot of gas. Or maybe it’s too small and doesn’t have a backseat for your kids.

If you are just looking for a daily driver to get you to and from work, you may be able to get away with driving a junker. But, if you have to drive considerable distances regularly, you could have a breakdown in the wrong area leading to a disaster.

You should also consider your feelings about the vehicle and the way it impacts your life. Are you lying awake at night wondering if your car is going to start so you can get to work in the morning?

You shouldn’t have to stress about that every day. If you scrap your car, it could give you your peace of mind back.

How to Get Rid of Your Used Vehicle

When you have made the decision to part with your vehicle, it can be difficult to figure out how to get rid of it. Can you sell it? Should you scrap your car? Or maybe donate it?

Sell Your Car

Some people are in need of a vehicle so badly, that they will make just about anything work. Before you decide to scrap your car, you should see if there is anyone you can sell it to.

You may think the hassle of finding a buyer isn’t worth it, but your car could be just what someone needs to get to and from work so they can feed their family.

Scrap Your Car

The final resting place for many vehicles is a scrapyard. At some point, it will be time to scrap your car for cash and you will have to find a company you can trust to handle its recycling.

Give Your Car Away

Many people give their aging vehicles to their children as a first car. It can be a great way for them to learn some responsibility without taking on the financial risk of operating a new car.

There are also organizations that collect vehicles for charity. They sometimes break down the cars for parts, other times they have other volunteers who work on the vehicles to get them in drivable condition.

Your donation could make a major difference in someone’s life. It could give them the opportunity to find a job, and in some cases, a place to sleep. Donating your car is also tax deductible, so that will be nice when you file your taxes at the end of the year.

Final Thoughts

Deciding when to scrap your car is a personal decision that you should give a lot of thought. Start by doing your research to find out what repairs you can expect from your vehicle in its old age.

Then take all your research and calculate the monthly cost of upkeep and compare it to the true cost of a new vehicle. Next, decide which monthly payment you can truly afford.

If you decide to scrap your car, we are happy to help, contact us today at Cash Auto Salvage.

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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