How to Decide Whether You Should Repair or Replace Your Ride

Picture of Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

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A harsh reality of life is that cars aren’t built to last forever. Things go wrong. Parts fall off. The body begins to rust. Or the engine simply gives out. 

That’s when it’s time to make a tough decision: Replace your ride or make the necessary repairs. Unfortunately, the repairs needed to make it roadworthy again can get expensive in a hurry. 

So how can you know when the time has come to upgrade to something newer? You’ve come to the right place for answers. This article takes a look at the age-old question, “Should I sell my car?” Keep reading for some great advice on the matter.

Determine What Repairs are Needed

So you’re having car trouble. The first thing you need to do is figure out what’s wrong. If this is an ongoing issue, you’ll likely already have a reasonable idea of what’s needed and how much it will cost to fix.

But if you’re not a gear head, go ahead and pay a mechanic to take a look under the hood and provide a solid estimate for repairs. This will give you a reasonable idea of how much it’s going to cost to delay the purchase of something else, at least for now.

Can You Do the Work Yourself?

Even if you’re not a trained mechanic, perhaps you’re somewhat skilled with a wrench — at least enough to tinker around and solve the problem without paying a fortune in labor costs. 

You might be surprised how many basic car repairs can be done yourself with the right parts and a YouTube video for guidance. 

There are a ton of online resources that make it possible to avoid expensive mechanic costs, as long as the repair requires only minimal skills and a few basic tools.

So if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and invest a bit of sweat equity, you could save money on both repair costs and the price of a new set of wheels.

Take a Look at Your Budget

Another key factor is your budget. Have you saved up some cash for emergency auto repairs? Have you planned ahead for major repairs, new car payments, or for the outright cash purchase of a replacement?

You need to honestly assess your finances. Do you have a way to make extra money? Are you getting a better job or a promotion? Can you make spending cuts in other areas to provide the money needed to solve your car issue?

It’s important to be wise about your spending. After all, the last thing you want to do is put yourself underwater by spending money that you can’t afford.

Creating a budget will also let you know exactly how much you can spend when it’s time to pull the trigger and make a decision about what type of car to buy.

How Much Will Repairs Cost?

Perhaps you’ve decided that you’re not up to making the repairs yourself. This could be wise, especially if the issue is engine-related. Engine problems can be complicated to fix, and are often expensive.

An experienced mechanic might be able to get you back on the road, but the cost of those repairs might be greater than the value of the car. This is especially true if you’re driving an older model car.

But you’ll need to know exactly what the estimated repair costs would be before making your final decision.

Can the Repairs Wait?

Is the car still drivable? This could have a huge impact on whether to delay purchasing a replacement. When funds are tight, you’ll likely want to squeeze every mile out of your ride that you possibly can.

Have an honest conversation with your mechanic. Tell them about your dilemma. Ask them for an educated estimate of how long they expect the car can be safely driven before it gives up the ghost.

Because if you’re not much more than a few weeks away from another major problem, this might be the time to go ahead and look at trading it in on something else, putting it up for sale, or selling it for scrap

Can You Get Much on Trade-in?

Do some research. Go online and find out your car’s actual value. Resources such as Kelly Blue Book can help, depending on the age of the car.

Once you have a grasp of how much it’s worth, this will help you decide whether to sell it or trade it in.

Do You Plan to Buy New or Used?

The decision to buy new or used will also impact your current options. Buying a new car can provide peace of mind that you won’t need to worry about repairs anytime in the near future. A used car, on the other hand, could place you back in the repair shop much sooner than you might imagine. 

Shop Around

Once you’ve gotten repair estimates, along with a firm grasp of your budget and the value trade-in value of your car, start shopping around for a replacement. 

Keep in mind that regardless of new or used, buying a car won’t be cheap. But you’ll need to be informed so that you can compare a purchase price against potential repair costs.

Make Your Decision Based on Value

Ultimately, your decision needs to be based on the value you’re getting for your money. After all, if repairs would run more than $2,000 dollars, you’re likely just investing money in a sinking ship. 

Old cars tend to be a money pit — especially if it’s your daily driver. So the best thing you can do for yourself is to know when it’s finally time to walk away.

Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Ride

Car repairs can be extremely expensive. That’s why it’s important to know when to replace your ride. Sooner or later you’ll have to say goodbye and part ways. The trick is knowing when that day has finally arrived. The tips contained here can help make that decision a little easier.

Click here to see 10 mistakes people make when selling a car.

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About the Author

Picture of Marc

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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