I often wonder why so many people choose to buy and pay for new cars every few years. I mean, doesn't anyone ever want to get out of debt? Sure, it would be nice to drive a new car and you sure don't have to fix them as often, but is that really a justification for debt?
Kiplinger says no. According to Kiplinger, your car, assuming it's been well maintained, should be running long after the odometer has clicked over 100,000 miles.
Okay, just so that we are all on the same page, I drive a 1996 BMW 3 series. It's a stick shift and has about 180,000 on it. I bought it for cash, or rather traded my husband's motorcycle for it and have never regretted the decision. My husband did for a little while, but we bought him a motorcycle the following summer (for cash, too...but that's another post.) It's not that I'm rich enough to be going around buying cars for cash; it's that I'm too cheap to have a car payment. As a matter of fact, I haven't had a car payment in over 10 years. No, I didn't always own the Bimmer. As a matter of fact, I just bought it last year. But, as I was furiously packing up my mother's Chevy Blazer for a 900 mile trip to Dallas as my 16 year old BMW sat sadly in the driveway, I began to re-evaluate my situation and began wondering if a new car was in my future.
I think that it's important car scratch repair Bradford to point out here that "new" car doesn't mean the same thing to me as it might to other folks. New in my book means new to me. A new car for me could mean a 16 year old BMW with a great service history. I have never, nor will ever purchase a brand new vehicle...at least not until I'm independently wealthy...and even then it would be a struggle. But my point is, I'm struggling with the age old question about when it simply doesn't make sense to keep repairing an older car and buy a new one.
Take, for example, my situation last week. My husband and I needed to travel for business. The trip was going to take about 13 hours and require 900 miles of non-stop driving. Now, mechanically, my car would have probably made the trip fine. I mean, I change the oil regularly and keep an eye out for trouble, but it needed new tires and I was afraid that the clutch might go at any point (I've got to remember to get this stuff fixed this week!). Anyway, I ended up borrowing a car to make the trip since my car needed some TLC. After I got back, I started looking at what it was going to take to get my car back into fighting shape...and then I remembered why I put it off to begin with. Repairs, including labor, were probably going to set me back about $1200 or so. Heck, for just a few more dollars, I could probably find a car that didn't need any work at all. It might even be in a little bit better condition cosmetically. And then I started thinking about just how much I loved my little car and how little it had actually needed in terms of repairs and maintenance over the past year and just how reliable it's been and pushed the thought of getting rid of it right out of my mind. Of course I was going to put new rubber on that old car and fix the clutch when it went out. The investment would take me a lot farther than spending more than the repair cost on a car with an unknown reliability history.
When trying to decide whether or not repairing your old clunker is worth it, Kiplinger suggests keeping these tips in mind:
1. Which option is cheaper? In most cases, the repair work will be much less expensive than buying a new car, but you also have to think about it in future terms. Are the repairs mechanical in nature? Are they wear and tear repairs or cosmetic? How long can you go before repairing your car again? Are the repairs maintenance in nature (like my tires and clutch) or are they a reflection of mechanical failures? All of these questions weigh into the cost consideration.
2. Were you in the market to buy a new car already? Large ticket purchases should NEVER be made as an impulse purchase, no matter how desperate you are. Buying a new car in haste will only bring you misery...trust me, I've done it twice. Do your homework. Know what you can afford and understand the ins and outs of the car you're buying before you plunk down your hard earned cash. If the purchase you have to make is because your old car has finally died, rent or borrow a car for a few days until you can make an informed choice.
3. Do you have the money to buy a new car or is financing your only option? My advice is if you have to finance, you should repair the old one until you can afford to buy with cash.
4. Last but not least, consider your insurance before buying a new car. Insurance premiums will vary based on age, make and model of the car you drive and if you finance your car, your premium may be much higher than you expect. Check with your insurance agent before you buy.