Ask Edmunds: Should I Fix My Old Car or Buy a New Car?

While the new car market settles down, is there a time repairing a used car is no longer worth it? Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book have some tips to help you decide which route is best for your situation. Check out the arguments for repairing your old car and the arguments for buying a new car, too.

Buying a new car instead of repairing your old car

Is it best to fix your used car like the ones photographed here, or should you get a new car?
Is it best to fix your used car like the ones photographed here, or should you get a new car? | Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Depending on your car’s age, expensive repairs might come up periodically. If this isn’t the first time your car has broken down or required a pricey fix, is it worth selling for a new car? Edmunds has some advice to help make the decision easier.

Depending on how old your car is, there are arguments to be made both ways. It also depends on your personal situation. Do you spend a lot of time on the road and in traffic? Do you need better safety features for your family? You might want to buy a new car. Or perhaps you don’t drive much, and your vehicle is just an “A to B” car. In that case, fixing the used car might work.

Arguments for fixing your old car

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While prices are so high, it might not be feasible for everyone to buy a new car. These are some arguments for fixing a used car.

  • Repairing a car is usually less expensive than buying a new car.
  • A blown motor or new transmission can cost up anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000. For the most part, that is still far less than a new car. It might be part (or all) of a down payment, but it won’t cover the monly payment going forward.
  • Insurance and registration will be an extra cost with a new car.
  • New cars will depreciate in value durong the first year. Edmunds estimates that depreciation to be around 22%.
  • Buying a new car right now might not be in the books. If you fix the current car, you have more time to save up.

Arguments for buying a new car

It might not be the ideal time to buy a new car, but putting more money into the old car just isn’t working any longer.

  • It’s a new car! New cars tend to be more reliable and you won’t have to go into the shop anytime soon. If you do, it will likely be under warranty. This is a time saver and a piece of mind if you have been in and out of the shop lately.
  • The warranty is worth it. If something goes wrong, you can take it the vehicle into the dealership and hopefully get it fixed for free.
  • The old car has been a waste of time. Maybe it broke down on the way to an important meeting. Perhaps the air conditioning broke while you had family in the car. Either way, you might have had enough.
  • If the repairs have become more frequent and are getting more expensive, it might be worth it to look into a new car.
  • Depending on how old your car is, it might be worth it for the extra safety and driver assistance features. Most new cars come with a variety of safety features that making driving easier and safer. Automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring are just some of the modern features included on many new cars.

Kelley Blue Book has an auto repair estimate tool

If you choose to repair your used car, check out the Kelley Blue Book auto repair estimate tool. This can help you determine a fair price for the necessary repairs to see if you are getting a reasonable deal. Having a high-quality and trustworthy shop to go to is also helpful.

Some helpful advice is to always keep up with maintenance on your car, no matter what the age of the vehicle is. Proper care at the determined intervals will help keep your vehicle out of the shop and help you find problems before it becomes a more expensive issue. If you purchase a used car, getting a pre-purchase inspection is always a good idea. In addition, Kelley Blue Book suggests checking out a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle. If you end up buying a new car, setting aside some money each month for emergency repairs is a good way to protect yourself down the line.

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