Consumer Reports Recommends Potentially Fixing the Car You Own as Used Car Prices Continue to Rise

The rise in used car prices is something rarely seen, but since the pandemic, they’ve been going up steadily. This makes car buying much more difficult due to the high price tags and fewer new vehicles to choose from on the lots. To avoid paying too much money, Consumer Reports suggests fixing your current car instead. 

What may be driving the need for repairing your own vehicle

New vehicle shortages have turned the automotive selling industry on its head. With the recent global chip shortage, automakers have had to get creative with their lineups by scaling back and only offering a select few models just to keep afloat. With fewer choices on dealership lots for new vehicles, people have started seeking used cars, SUVs, and trucks, driving prices through the roof. 

According to Consumer Reports, the prices for used vehicles went up around 8% over last year and 50% over what cars were selling pre-pandemic. How long high price tags will be around is not entirely known, but expect to pay significantly more for a new or used vehicle in the near future. 

So, what do you do in the meantime if your current vehicle is having some problems and you want to trade it in for something else? CR reviewers suggest fixing your current car before spending a huge chunk of money on a used or new vehicle. It just may save you quite a bit in the long run. 

Consumer Reports thinks it might be worth it to repair your car instead of buying new

A woman fixing her used Mini car at the Moonlight Bay A DIY car repair centre
A DIY car repair centre | PA Images via Getty Images

Well, that may depend on what’s wrong with your current vehicle. For the most part, though, it would be worth it, even when you may be experiencing engine or transmission problems. As Consumer Reports explains, a $3,000 repair bill would likely benefit you more than buying a new vehicle and paying $500 a month. To determine if it’s worth it in your case, you’ll need to do a cost-benefit analysis.

This is where you take the price of the repair bill and divide it by the number of months you think you can get out of your vehicle. Using the $3,000 repair bill example above, let’s say you feel the car could go for another three years (36 months). That would mean you’d pay roughly $83 a month versus a $500 car payment.

The biggest issue is obtaining the money to do the repairs. With a new vehicle purchase, you know you’ll be applying for a loan, but that isn’t always the case with a repair bill. If you were planning to use your savings for a down payment, you could use that money, but if you wanted to use the trade-in as a down payment, you might want to inquire about finance plans with repair shops in your area. 

Of course, if your current vehicle is in constant need of repair, it would be best to move on to something different.

What else can you do to keep your current vehicle going strong?

If you repair your vehicle, you’ll want to keep it operating smoothly for quite a while. How do you do that? According to Consumer Reports, there are a few things you’ll want to be sure you do. 

  • Don’t skip regular maintenance – Be sure to have everything done at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer. That includes flushing your coolant system, changing your transmission fluid, and replacing your power steering fluid. 
  • Research automotive repair shops – You’ll want a reputable shop to work on your vehicle. Find one you can trust to let you know what may be going wrong with your car without charging you an arm and leg. Do your research, and ask around to see what other people’s experiences have been.
  • Look into an extended warranty – If your current vehicle’s warranty is almost gone, you might want to consider getting an extended warranty to help cover some of the major repairs, should they happen once the main warranty is done.

With high used car prices and the shortage of newer vehicles on the lots, you might want to consider waiting to trade in your current vehicle. Repair it instead to save you quite a bit of money until a good deal on a car comes along down the line. 

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