April 11, 2016
If you are like most people who can’t afford to live in an endless lease or buy a new car every few years, one day you will face this dilemma: Should I repair or not? This often happens when something breaks. You go to your Maryland auto repair shop and get a repair estimate that might as well be a down payment for a new vehicle. Should you repair and maybe get a few more years out of your car? Or buy a newer model that won’t be a money pit? Let’s consider a few things before you decide.
Take a Look at Your Finances
Let’s say your car needs a new engine that will cost about $2,500 in parts and labor. A new car, on the other hand, will cost you $200/month and up for the next five years. While $2,500 can give you a sticker shock, in the long run it’s definitely cheaper and less of a commitment than taking on a loan. These 3-5 years your car will last you with the new engine will allow you to pay off other debt, get your credit score up and actually get a better loan and buy a nicer car. In this scenario your old car may be worth repairing, but there is always a risk that something else may go wrong with it.
When considering the cost of owning a car, also take into account the following:
- Fuel cost. Fuel cost matters if you drive a lot or have a long commute. With a new car you may get better MPGs, and with a hybrid you can cut your fuel costs in half or even more.
- Insurance. The cost of insurance has a lot to do with the make and model of your car. It’s a myth that new cars are more expensive to insure—in some cases they are actually cheaper, so be sure to compare before you decide to buy or keep.
Get a Second Opinion
So your mechanic says it’s $2,500 for the new engine. But do you actually need a new engine? It never hurts to get a second opinion, and our experienced auto repair tech here at Hillmuth will be happy to take a look at your car. Some mechanics may rush to throw away the baby with the bath water, either due to a diagnostic error or lack of knowledge about new technologies. For example, hybrid batteries can often be regenerated, which delays the need for a replacement. This will get your car on the road long enough to save up for the new battery.
Review the History of Past Problems
If you are a responsible car owner, you probably keep a spreadsheet where you log all car repairs. But let’s face it: most of us are far from being that organized. If you don’t have a spreadsheet, check your glove compartment for all the recent receipts. If you go to the same Maryland auto repair shop every time, you could ask them to print out your records, or maybe they have a customer portal on their website where you can log in and see everything.
Either way, try to estimate how much money you’ve spent on car repairs (outside of regular maintenance) in the past 1-2 years. If your car had numerous problems and your bills total thousands, maybe it’s time to get a new car. If this is your first major problem, it could be worth fixing, but keep in mind that car troubles are probably just starting.
Do the Math
Look up your car in the Kelley Blue Book to see how much it’s worth in its current broken condition. Then compare how much more you can get for it if you repaired it. Is the cost of repair less than the added value? If investing money into your car will help you sell it or trade it in for more, then it can be worth it to go ahead with the repair. Besides the dollar value, also keep in mind the overall marketability of your car. You can probably sell it easier and faster if you repaired it. After all, who wants to buy a car with issues? And be sure to check with the trade-in program, if your dealership has one, to see whether they take broken cars.
If you ever need a professional opinion, you are welcome to bring your car to one of the Hillmuth Auto Care locations in Glenwood, Columbia, Clarksville or Gaithersburg. We can tell you what’s wrong with it, how much it will cost to repair and how long you may expect your car to last. The final decision is up to you, and if you choose to repair, you can rest assured that we’ll do quality work!