Is your car getting a little old? Does it need some expensive car repairs? This is when most people start asking themselves if it’s better to repair or replace. Car experts can often provide great advice in this area, and here I’ll summarize the best tips I’ve found to help you decide if the time is right to buy a car.
How Much Do You Like Your Car Now?
Money is usually the primary deciding factor when deciding whether buying a new car is the right move, or if it’s better to take care of those needed car repairs and hold off for a little longer on the new car. I’ll get to that, as it’s obviously important, but often people overlook another factor that matters too – how much they value their current vehicle.
Aside from classics, which owners will usually repair indefinitely, every car has a limited lifespan. Still, if you have a car that you really love, you might be willing to overlook occasional car problems. If you’re driving your dream car, there’s nothing wrong with holding onto it a bit longer, as long as you can afford regular auto repair.
Reasons Not to Buy a New Car
Aside from loving your car, there are a number of other reasons you might want to hold on to it.
- It’s paid for.
If your car is paid off, you might not be ready to take on a car payment. Often, automotive repair a couple times a year will cost less than a new car, so do the math. Look at the cost of recent repairs, and the cost of any anticipated repairs. If you’re not a car person, having a mechanic you trust look over your car will point out potential problems so you know what to expect in the near future. If the expected annual repair costs are significantly less than 12 monthly payments on a new car, it might make sense to wait another year to buy.
- Repair is relatively inexpensive.
If you don’t need to repair your car often, but it needs one or two repairs, consider fixing it. You should ask yourself how the repair costs compare to the monthly payments for a new car. If it’s less than a few monthly payments, that weighs in favor of keeping it. Also look at its current market value – check Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds – and compare that to the cost to repair. If the repair costs less than half the car’s market value, fixing it might be a good idea.
- Insurance will cost significantly more for a new car.
This may or may not be the case, depending on what you’re driving now and what you’re thinking about buying. It’s very likely, though, especially if you are currently only carrying liability coverage. Unless you’re buying your car outright, you’ll have to have comprehensive and collision coverage too. Add the annual insurance rate to your 12 monthly payments and again compare this to your expected repair cost (plus 12 current monthly payments if applicable). If the repair cost is quite a bit lower, it again might make sense to wait.
- You’re capable of, and enjoy, repairing your car yourself.
Fix or replace? Car people might find the decision a little more complicated. The ability to do the repairs yourself can reduce costs significantly, but if it’s something you hate doing, you’ll likely procrastinate on less urgent repairs, potentially causing more problems. If you don’t love wrenching on cars, don’t try to convince yourself that you can do it.
Reasons to Buy a New Car
When you start asking yourself, “Should I get a new car?” these are some reasons you might say, “Yes!”
- You want a new car and can easily afford it.
Most people will feel at least a little sting with the expense of a new vehicle, but if you’re one of the lucky few who won’t, there’s nothing wrong with getting a new car just because you want to.
- Your job necessitates a more reliable vehicle.
If you have a job where you can’t afford to break down, no matter how infrequently, this is a strong reason to buy. Car repair expenses aside, if your livelihood requires it, a new or newer vehicle is probably in your near future. Consider how reliable your car was before it needed repair, and whether you expect the needed repairs to get it back to that same level of reliability to help with the decision.
- Repairs will cost as much or more than payments on a new car.
If you’ve done the calculations we discussed and find that it’s going to cost you more to keep your current car on the road than it would to get a new one, it’s probably a pretty easy decision to buy now. If repairs will cost less but it’s fairly close, it’s still worth considering a new car – your repair costs are just estimates, after all, and there may just be some repairs that you’re not prepared for.
- Repairs will cost more than half the car’s market value.
This is a good sign that it’s time to replace your vehicle. Remember that the older your car gets, the more repairs it will need, so this one’s only the beginning. It’s probably not worth repairing your car in this situation. Even a more recent model used car would be a step up if new isn’t in the budget.
- Your car no longer feels safe.
Safety should always be a top priority. If your car is old enough that safety is a concern, it’s time to replace it. Keep in mind that breaking down on the road is a safety issue too, so if this is a common experience, replacing your car should be a priority.
It’s not always easy to decide whether or not to buy a new car. Following the tips above will make it easier and, whatever you decide, you can feel confident that you made a good decision.
Whether you decide to repair or replace your car, Freeway Insurance can help you save money on your car insurance. Request a free car insurance quote online or over the phone at 800-777-5620. In less than three minutes, you’ll be able to compare rates of multiple car insurance companies and choose the policy that best fits your needs and budget with the help of our friendly insurance advisors.