People hold onto their vehicles for many different reasons: Finances might be tight, and buying or leasing a new car just isn’t an option; the car is so loved that parting with it would be unbearable; or maybe you love the idea of owning and maintaining a vehicle for years.
Whatever the reason, many of us become attached to our vehicles, loath to give them up. However, there will come a time when it no longer makes sense to continue maintaining your car unless you’re a hardcore DIYer with abundant cash flow. We've compiled a list of the instances when you should consider trading up.
When the repair costs are more than the car's value.
It’s a judgment call most car owners have to make at some point in their lives: to repair or not to repair? Here’s the short answer – repair it if you know you could still make more money by selling it (in its repaired state) at a later time. If the repair costs more than the car's worth, there’s good reason to give it the boot, especially if you don’t have the cash up front. But this one is tricky, because financially you’ll have to weigh the effect of a lump sum payment for the repair versus a larger payment over time broken down into smaller monthly payments if you opt for the new ride. Choose wisely.
When the engine seizes/needs replacing.
As you’d imagine, an engine is a pretty important part of your vehicle’s functionality. When it seizes or is so worn it needs replacing, the cost alone is worth considering other options. A new engine can, however, breathe new life into a car, and it's worth it to replace it only if the rest of the vehicle is in fantastic shape, or if it's somehow partially or fully covered by insurance or warranty. It's not a given, but depending on what happened to the engine, chances are other parts may have been – or could become – affected as well.
When there are just too many major repair jobs.
Sometimes the needed repair jobs aren’t costly and time consuming individually – there are just a ton of them. You can go along slowly repairing them one by one, with costs and time spent adding up, but at some point reality sets in and the overall commitments are too great.
When you can't find or afford new parts.
It’s all fine and dandy to repair a vehicle indefinitely. It certainly can be done. But in the world of automotive manufacturers, change is inevitable. Companies go belly up and parts are discontinued. Luckily, the sheer amount of parts available online have helped with that. Still, there’s a point when, unless the car is a collectible, it’s time to let it go because the parts are prohibitively expensive or absolutely obsolete.
When you move to a dramatically different environment.
Sure, your rear-wheel drive roadster is your idea of a perfect car. But when you up and move from sunny Southern California to Chicago, it might be time to reevaluate your vehicle choice. Practicality is key here, and if you're a one-car type of person, the time has come to switch vehicles. Of course, if you want to put chains or snow tires on your roadster for six months out of the year, well, we've done stranger things for the cars we love.
When it's been in a huge accident.
There are a lot of things mechanics and body shops can fix in a car that’s been wrecked. And for most of us, repairing a car is about getting it in good enough shape to be on the road again. But you can’t hide the fact that it’s been in a collision, one that may have impacted its safety and reliability. And if you ever plan to sell the vehicle, the record of that accident is going to put a major dent in the resale value – no matter how well the damages were repaired. So choosing to call it what it is and sell the car now before it loses too much more value might be the best approach for you.