Should you repair or replace your car?
When should you fix it and when is it time to shop around?
Your vehicle has carried you over miles of daily commutes, road trips and so much more. How do you decide if it's better to fix up or trade up? Here are some key questions to ask.
How much does your car cost per month?
Even if it's paid off, you've got gas, insurance and maintenance to consider. Total up the last year's worth of spending on all three, plus any taxes or fees, and divide by 12 for your average monthly vehicle costs.
Does it need an expensive repair?
Just one doesn't necessarily mean it's trade-in time. Several repairs close together may. Ask your mechanic for an honest evaluation of all current and potential future issues your vehicle may have. Compare total repair costs and monthly vehicle costs with what a new vehicle would run you monthly.
What is your car worth?
Enter your vehicle's information on a free trusted website, such as Kelley Blue Book® or the National Automobile Dealers Association, to find out how much you'd likely get if you sold it or traded it in. Consider that number in relation to any big-ticket and typical annual maintenance costs.
Does it feel safe?
Do you worry about your vehicle breaking down on the road or often feel unsafe as you drive? Newer vehicles come with many fantastic safety features such as advanced airbags, better handling, backup cameras and lane-departure warning systems.
What would a new car really cost you?
Research your next vehicle. Look at price, less any trade-in value or down payment, and figure out your potential financed monthly payment. Add in estimated monthly fuel costs, insurance and fees.
Compare this monthly payment to your current expenses for a clear picture of the difference and its impact on your budget. If it's just too great, consider setting aside whatever you can afford monthly in a vehicle fund for surprise repairs or a future down payment.
We have some calculators that may help with your decision:
New vs used car — calculate the cost of ownership
Calculator whether to lease or buy a car
Calculate how soon to buy your next car
Calculate the best choice: New car rebate or financing
Calculate whether it's best to pay cash or finance a car
If you do decide to get a new car be sure to check out these tips for maintaining it.