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Should I Fix Up or Trade Up My Old Car? | Edmunds

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited March 2019 in General

imageShould I Fix Up or Trade Up My Old Car? | Edmunds

Should you fix up your old car or buy a new one? Here are the pros and cons of keeping or dumping, plus some signs that it's definitely time to move on to another vehicle.

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    ArizonaladyArizonalady Member Posts: 1
    My car was 11 years old with 80k miles on it. Was very lucky in that I had one repair in the 5 years I'd owned it. And even that ended up being covered under recall. The diagnostics on it showed a bunch of little issues that I just didn't want to deal with. I drive less than 3k miles a year since I run a business and don't have to commute to an office. While I was in the dealership picking up my car from the repair I got the new car bug and I went back the next day and traded up for a 1 year old car, same make...a Nissan. My insurance went down by 12.00 a month since I went from a 2 door to a 4 door and the new one has more safety features on it. I'm in my 60s and likely this will be the last car I have to buy. Car will be paid off in 7 months. I could have paid all cash but buying a new home and needed those funds for the remodeling of the new home. 11 years old vs 1 and 80k miles vs 5600k miles....no brainer for me.
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    rwmatlrwmatl Member Posts: 1
    I have two Tacoma trucks, one with 409k and one with 350k. After 20 years of service neither has ever let me down. Routine maintenance, including regular oil changes are all they ask for. Should one ever need a new heart ( engine ), i would do it in a heartbeat. What's 3000 or 4000 compared to another 20 years of driving. I commute 200 a day with these and never considered a new vehicle. Why buy anything that drops 20% in year one?
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    Cahh_crazy2Cahh_crazy2 Member Posts: 1
    This is a great topic... one that should be looked case by case mostly depending on the type of vehicle you drive, especially if you own a luxury brand vehicle, the cost of repairs will almost always far exceed the cost of purchasing or leasing a new vehicle. Unfortunately, gone are the days when buying a Volvo or an Audi for example meant 200,000 miles of mostly worry free ease. Like many product manufacturers today, auto manufacturers design and engineer their vehicles to expire... requiring costly service and repairs at very specific points in their life cycle, typically around 60k miles.. this when things start to get super expensive.. On board computer systems produce warning codes for basically every failure you can think of triggering that annoying dashboard light... many times disabling your vehicle until it is serviced... my advise... if you want a new car, lease one.. if you can check your ego at the door, consider a slightly used vehicle with a dealer backed extended full warrentee, even if it comes at and additional cost.. and get rid of the car right before the warrentee is up. This is not to say their are some exceptions out their, ie the Toyota Tacoma... but always consider the long term cost...
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    Jbernabe831Jbernabe831 Member Posts: 1
    You know...i never comment..but today....Man...if your car below 2006 just buy a new one...or at least after 2009...if you can.....or get a 2015-2016 not a lot and ur good for at least....6 years. Which is more than enough to realize time flies!
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    Kclay77Kclay77 Member Posts: 1
    This is a common question with customers that come into the shop I work at. It really depends on the vehicle and whether or not it is known to be reliable or is known to last long. A reputable independent shop should be able to give you a good idea of what cars you'd be better off keeping or replacing. I can tell you what cars we always recommend customers to buy to begin with. Toyota or Honda.

    Major repair cost can vary quite a lot between makes. For example, a head gasket repair on a Scion/Toyota 4cyl. is around 8hrs of labor. Where a Nissan 4cyl. is twice that in labor time for the same repair. Some cars just cost more to repair because they are harder to work on, which means more labor time.

    Before buying any used car, I highly recommend getting a pre-buyers inspection. It will cost you a little up front, but could save you a lot more down the road.
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    craigskincraigskin Member Posts: 1
    It is all about proper maintenance. AND finding and using a good local independence mechanic. I have never released a vehicle with under 200k miles. I just let my '72 GMC Rally STX go and it had 502,000 miles on it with minor maintenance records of mostly brakes, exhaust, and hoses. For one half that mileage the van was used pulling a 28 foot travel trailer around the states and Canada. I also have three other vehicles with just under 200k and going strong. None show any oil consumption between scheduled changes. I consider that maintenance is the key to low incidences of auto failure.
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    Donny_T63Donny_T63 Member Posts: 1
    Hope you can help. I have a 2004 Hyundai Elantra GLS five-speed manual with approximately 125,000 miles on it. Within the last 25,000 miles, I have had the following repair work done:
    coolant system flush
    replaced rear struts
    replaced front brake pads
    replaced transmission seal/replaced fluid
    replaced AC belt
    replaced thermostat and radiator
    replaced alternator
    replaced timing belt
    replaced water pump
    replaced spark plugs and wires
    replaced AC pulley
    new tires

    I've been told I need new CV axles and seals. And I'm due to replace the clutch. If I do repairs, I'll also get a new paint job, stereo and some other minor repairs. Here's my dilemma. I have $5,000 to spend. Should I get the repairs done, especially with everything I've already paid for, or invest that $5,000 in a used car? I don't have car payments now, and I'd like to keep it that way, so probably wouldn't spend much more than the $5000 on a used car.
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    KickdrumKickdrum Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2007 Nissan Frontier with 158,000 miles. I've already gotten to experience the transmission failure issue with these trucks ($4,000). I recently learned that there is also an issue with the timing chain guides/chain. This is a $2,000+ repair. I'm also in need of a new windshield, tires, left front wheel bearing, shocks, brakes, valve cover gasket and probably a couple of other things I'm not aware of. So...looking at $5,000 worth of work probably. I'd like to get a Tacoma but anything newer than what I have is more than I want to spend AND we have another aging vehicle ('01 Highlander with 272,000 miles) that needs replacing and really don't like the idea of two payments. Maybe that's the x-factor...two payments vs. one.
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    VineetVineet Member Posts: 1
    I have 2008 Altima with 120K miles n need new cat converter and front bumper (broken in a minor accident). Should I put in $2000 to fix the above or go for a new / used car.
    My job situation is also very fluid with this national emergency.
    Can I postpone the decision for now.
    When I decide, should I fix or buy ?

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    HoktooieHoktooie Member Posts: 1
    Well I’m buying this 06’Nissan Titan w/127k miles on the old gal, when I financed it 2015 it had 72k miles so it’s been a very sound reliable truck w/lots of room but she’s a gettin older, I have 1more year of payments & I’ll have payed off the old Betty. The only thing is it developed a leak in the front differential & has a slight slip when it changes from 1st to 2nd gear so I live on a shoe string budget & can not afford a new expensive repair bill! So I’m thinking of trading in the old gal for a younger prettier faster w/lower mileage. I just really appreciate Nissan Titans solid reliable truck! So I may be looking for a newer Titan🤔
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    jchow101jchow101 Member Posts: 2
    Another way to look at an alternative to buying your new car is to buy a gently used car with all service/ maintenance records. You can even have a trusty old Camry for few thousands. It cost way less to insure the 2nd car than a single new car. as long as you have a driveway to park., This the cheapest way. Unlike house / land, cars are highly depreciating asset & become worthless at the end.

    I spent $20K+ on an Audi in the 80's, & lost big time. Since then I bought used vehicles (Toyota, Honda), and squeezed out every dollar out of them. Having less mortgage make me sleep peacefully at night than spending on a new car.
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    shellebelle212shellebelle212 Member Posts: 1
    The only mistake I made was not understanding the true cost of maintaining a vehicle in general, which is what is the case for most people. Once a certain mileage is passed, you must get certain things done, or else it'll compound the problem later on in the life of the car and turn into an emergency! The first few years of having my pre-owned 2004 Lexus ES 330 made me doubt why I kept dumping money into it, but ultimately, I was determined to repair vs replace. The vehicle was only worth a couple grand even in 2016 and I spent probably over 10K over the past 4 years in non-dealership maintenance (ouch.... but that's ok). It was at about 120K miles when I bought it private sale, poorly cared for by the previous owner. Yet, I kept all receipts, studied the manufacturer's maintenance schedule, kept meticulous records on a spreadsheet and found a technician that I trust. Doing all that helped me understand that I'm not frivolously wasting the money I put into it. It's not an old clunker that I'm trying to bring back to life; its a well-made machine that, with proper and regular care, will last another decade at least.
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    qqqtrdrqqqtrdr Member Posts: 2
    Cost of maintaining a vehicle is large. Maintenance of keeping a car running does get expensive... The majority of owners of used cars with over 100,000 do not keep up with preventative maintenance.. Car manufactures no longer require these preventative maintenance items to take care of in the first 100,000 miles as well to reduce the life of the vehicle to make new sales. This means changing the cars fluids and not just the oil. Having used cars checked out before buying is important.. Power steering and Oil leaks are a sign that the vehicle is likely not properly maintained...

    With many cars under my belt, I can honestly say if you have and older car that one has not been able to keep up with fixing the small items that can lead to larger problems down the road, that it is likely worthwhile to dump your older car and get one that is newer, because the overall repair of the car is just too much and the likelihood of throwing good money after bad...

    Lately, I have been buying used cars and spending 3K to 5K on fixing items to make them reliable. If you find a car you like take it to a mechanic and see what the cost is to fix up the car to make it a reliable car with no maintenance necessary in the next 6 months. I will subtract that cost from the NADA cost of the vehicle assuming that vehicle is in good or very good condition. This is the maximum price I would be willing to pay for the vehicle...

    Your financial situation is important as well... I own 5 cars because I have 5 drivers at it does get expensive. I put car reliability higher on my list than upgrading my home, so my cars are kept in reliable condition... If your vehicle is around town vehicle you can likely forgo some expensive needed repairs and run quite awhile with fixing your car when it breaks down... If it around the state vehicle, it is important to keep your eye on what needs to be fixed and priority of the work every 6 months or so... Try and budget and fix the most important items every six months. Budget for those repairs... For being able to take long roadtrips, you vehicle should have most driver items fixed and maintenance up to date.... Have your vehicle checked out within 3 months of a long trip to forgo problems on the trip. So when buying another car, ask yourself why are you buying the vehicle and why is it needed, and by the vehicle for that need. I have a Ford Focus Hatchback for driving in the city as a commute car, low cost of gas, and fitting into parking spots around town. It is not my dream vehicle but it fits the need and not the want.
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