Is it worth repairing your old car or is it time to sell? The answer is… it depends! Generally, repairing an old car is almost always cheaper than buying a new one. But sometimes it makes more sense to sell a car than it does to repair it.
Follow these steps to decide if it’s time to part ways with your ageing vehicle.
1. Get a repair cost estimate
The fact that every car repair comes with a different price tag is what makes the “repair or sell” decision so difficult. For example, a new car battery might cost you ~$100 but an engine replacement could result in a bill that’s $9000 and up.
A local mechanic can give you an accurate idea of what it will cost to repair your vehicle.
If you’re nervously waiting to book an appointment with a nearby repair shop, you can get an idea of what it might cost to repair your car’s current issue with this list of average car repair costs in Canada.
2. Do the math
The pros at Edmunds advise that selling your car is generally the way to go if:
- The repairs will cost more than your car’s market value
- The repairs will cost more than one year’s worth of monthly payments
Other experts would also argue that you should think twice about paying for repairs if the bill is more than half your car’s market value.
So if your car is worth $10,000 and the repairs will cost you $1,500, repairing your vehicle is likely a smart choice. On the other hand, if your car is worth $2,000, you’ll need to consider a few additional factors.
Will you be able to drive the car long enough to get value out of those pricey repairs? Will the repairs increase the sale or trade-in value of your car if you decide to sell? If the answer is yes, then forking out $1,500 to repair a car that’s worth $2,000 could still be the better choice.
You can use Kelley Blue Book’s What Is My Car Worth? tool to find out your car’s current market value. And ACGO’s Buy or Keep Calculator can help you compare the value of repairing or fixing your vehicle.
3. Calculate how much you’re paying for repairs and maintenance each year
Every car requires regular maintenance (the ongoing maintenance you do to identify and prevent small issues before they turn into bigger problems). But because parts wear down and need replacing over time, older cars are typically more expensive to maintain.
While you’re running the numbers (above), calculate how much you paid for regular maintenance and repairs in the past year.
It’s tempting to think about selling your car because you’re taking it in for minor repairs more frequently. But even a few hundred dollars in regular maintenance and repair costs over the course of several months will still likely be a lot cheaper than the car payment on a new or used vehicle.
4. Understand the pros and cons to each option
Whichever decision you make—repair or sell—will come with upsides and downsides. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into before you commit.
The pros and cons of repairing your car
- Much easier than shopping around for a new(er) vehicle
- No need to spend time listing and selling your car
- Your insurance payments won’t change
- You know your car’s history
- You won’t be lumped with a monthly payment
- Repairs could become more frequent as your car ages
- Repair costs might keep increasing over time
- You might worry more about future repairs and breakdowns
The pros and cons of selling your car (and buying a newer one)
- You get to drive a shiny new(er) vehicle!
- Greater peace of mind that your car won’t suddenly break down
- Newer cars have better safety features and better fuel efficiency
- It might come with (some) free maintenance and a warranty
- You may still have to pay for the repairs to sell your car in working condition
- You’ll need to spend time listing and selling your car
- You’re signing up for another loan and monthly repayments
- Insurance and registration fees could go up
5. Make the decision that’s right for you
By now you should know whether it’s financially smarter to repair or sell your car. But before you make the final call, don’t forget to consider your own needs, too.
Constantly worrying that your older car might break down again isn’t fun. But if your budget can’t really handle a new car purchase right now, struggling to make monthly car payments can be just as stressful.
Here are some questions to help you consider the needs of your own situation and make a decision that’s right for you.
- How significant are the repairs your car needs? Fixing up a loose belt is a whole lot different than needing to replace the AC.
- Are the repairs becoming more frequent? Or is your older car running fine, for the most part?
- If you repair your vehicle, how much longer are you willing to drive it before selling or trading it in?
- Are you ready to assume all of the costs associated with buying a new car? (monthly payment, insurance, registration, etc.)
- Did the inconvenience of these repairs make you wish you owned a shiny new whip? Or were you already planning (and budgeting) to buy a new vehicle long before your older car had some issues?
Protect yourself from future repair costs with a GuardTree used car warranty
Looking for an extended car warranty for your vehicle? GuardTree is a comprehensive, monthly extended warranty subscription that you can cancel at any time.
GuardTree provides protection from most major electrical and mechanical repairs and offers additional benefits like roadside assistance, car rental, and trip interruption costs.