Whether you’re hanging on to an older car because of sentimental or financial reasons, the time will come when a decision must be made as to whether to fix it or ditch it. The thought of taking on the cost and responsibility of purchasing a new or another used car can be daunting. People become attached to a car, especially if it’s been in the family for years. To make the right decision, however, an honest assessment should be made as to whether any recurring expenses are worth keeping it around. Take the following steps to assure you make the right decision regarding your car.
What Steps Should I Take?
- Have it looked at by a professional and get estimates on any necessary major repairs (transmission, engine) it will need within the next six months to one year. Serious garage work can climb into the thousands, so take that into consideration.
- Figure out how much it costs to keep it on the road now. Consider any do-it-yourself upkeep, such as oil changes, new brake pads or other repairs that are getting more frequent with time.
- Consider the mileage on the car. More expensive and frequent work is required as a vehicle reaches 60,000 to more than 100,000 miles – from replacing the water pump to the drive train. Be honest about how often it needs gas.
- Watch for warning signs that the end is near. Blue smoke belching out of the tailpipe is a telltale signal that the engine is on the way out, and slipping or hesitating during operation usually indicates serious transmission trouble.
- Take a drive and really observe how the car operates. If it feels like a trembling, lurching rattle-trap, it probably should be replaced before a major component failure or a serious breakdown on a high-speed highway.
Everyone knows (or is) someone with the tendency to drive an older car into the ground or just keep it going for the mileage bragging rights; however, being realistic about how long it’s really going to last and how much it will cost to keep it running are important considerations. If it’s a classic or a family heirloom and worth the expense of ongoing repairs, then go for it. But, if it’s just a means of transportation, think about shopping around for a replacement.
- Have your car looked at by a mechanic to decide if any major repairs are necessary.
- Figure out how much it costs to keep it on the road now.
- Consider the mileage of your car. The more it has, the more maintenance it will require.
- Be aware of warning signs.