Written by Randy Gerdin on December 1, 2015
In the car fixing business, we normally can fix any issue. But there are some vehicles and some folks that can only stand so much. Either they become frustrated with their vehicle, how much it is costing them, or they are tired of numerous breakdowns. Many times we hear people say, “I wish I would have known that XYZ was going to break down before I spent money on ABC”. We certainly agree, as we cannot predict what future breakdowns a vehicle will have with such precision. There certainly are inspections that can be done to educate a driver as to what is visible and what may be an upcoming problem. However, there are numerous items in a vehicle that are just plain unknown. There is no way one can know when many items will fail. Some examples of these items are computers, modules, internal engine or transmission components, starters, alternators, and the list can go on and on. It usually is no big deal if one or two items fail, but when numerous items continue to have issue, it can become very easy to get frustrated and just want to move on to something else. That is certainly understandable.
Sometimes we even advise people that though their vehicle can be repaired, they may be better off-putting the money into something else. This situation actually happened last week. A vehicle came in for a front end noise and an oil leak. In the process of our inspections, we uncovered a couple major issues that would have cost thousands of dollars to repair on a vehicle that was not worth even one thousand dollars. In addition, the items found could not be avoided, as they most likely would cause a breakdown on the road, or present a serious safety concern. After speaking with the owner, he too agreed that we should not move forward with the repairs. It is a shame because the vehicle’s exterior and interior were in very good condition, considering the year and the amount of miles on the car. One rule I have relied upon is to consider if you take the same amount of money and purchase a different car, would the vehicle be as good or better that you would have if you fixed your original vehicle? If you can’t, then it may be more cost-effective to do the repair. Of course, I am referring to major repairs like an engine or transmission.
It many cases, as you consider the cost of a replacement vehicle, it is a no brainer that the cost of even a newer-used vehicle can be prohibitive. Also, one must not forget the additional cost of interest you may pay, cost of increased insurance, and there is still the possibility of maintenance or repairs. A brand-new vehicle, of course, comes with a further increase in costs. We find it very disheartening when a person buys a new vehicle and after a few short years, they have some major repairs when they are still making payments on the vehicle and now they find themselves upside down and can barely affording the payment, let alone the cost of maintenance and repairs. New vehicles these days are indeed very good compared to even 10 to 15 years ago. But like anything else, nothing lasts forever.
Most folks shudder at the word budget, however, that is really the best way to manage any transportation needs. If one would set aside a certain amount of money each month, let’s say $100, then as things come up, you already have the funds set aside to repair the vehicle. And if the cost of the repair is too much, then you have a healthy down payment for a different vehicle. I wish we had a crystal ball to tell us when our vehicles are going to breakdown, but unfortunately we don’t. My best advice is to have a conversation with your financial advisor and your trusted vehicle service technician and make a wise and informed decision. I have seen folks go from one bad situation to another, based on emotions rather than the facts. I Hate When That Happens!