When to Repair or Sell Your Car

Getting a new car can be an exercise in mixed emotions. On the one hand, it smells nice, looks good and has all sorts of cool features. On the other hand, when you trade in your paid-off car, you’re also ending your payment-free life and committing to years of making car payments. Even so, there are times when a new car may make more sense than constantly taking your old one to the mechanic.

How Long is a Typical Car’s Lifespan?
Many modern cars are engineered to last 250,000 miles, so if your car has 125,000 miles on it and more than 10 years old, it probably isn’t past its prime. Bear in mind though, that just because your car and its major systems can last that long doesn’t mean all of its parts will. Many larger items, like fuel pumps and timing belts will eventually need to be replaced. For some owners, this drives the decision whether or not to get a new car.

Preparing to Buy a New Car
As your car starts to age, you might want to prepare to buy another car, just in case. This way, if your old car dies, you’re ready to make a purchase. Check your credit report to make sure it represents you in the best possible light, as a stronger credit history can lead to more favorable financial terms. Take care of any inexpensive maintenance items on your car so that it shows well if you need to sell it or trade it in. To prepare yourself for the expense of a new car – and build up money for a down payment – make monthly payments to a separate savings account.

Should I Get a New Car?
For some people, the decision to buy a new car comes from non-economic factors. If your car is uncomfortable or not large enough for your family, the expense of a new one may be worthwhile. On the other hand, if your car is unreliable and its frequent breakdowns are making you miss work or other opportunities, replacing it could be a good economic choice.

The Financial Rule of Thumb for Getting a New Car
When your car works well enough that you can keep it for a while, as long as you keep up maintenance, you could end up holding on to it for a long time.But if you’re hoping for a new shiny toy for your driveway, you should make sure you can afford the payments first. Whether the choice is an economical one or truly personal, helpful resources like online calculators and educational articles can help you decide.


About the Author  
Solomon Poretsky has been a writer since 1996, with experience in the fields of financial services, real estate and technology. Poretsky holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Columbia University.