If you have not been investing in the care of your vehicle, there will come a time when you bring it in for service and learn it will cost some money to do the required work. At that point, we often hear the question "Should I spend the money to fix this car or should I just go buy a new one?"
That depends! If you’re tired of your current car and can afford to buy a new one, maybe that would be best. But if you are thinking about buying a new car because of the cost to fix your current one, here are some points to consider:
1. Buying a new car will increase your real costs of vehicle ownership significantly.
2. Your new vehicle will depreciate (lose its value) from the time you drive it off the lot, most dramatically within the first 3 – 5 years.
3. Both your vehicle insurance and registration costs will be much higher.
4. If you need to take out a loan to purchase your new vehicle, take into account the interest you will pay in addition to the principal payment.
These are all major, real, out of pocket expenses!
It is much more cost effective to correctly maintain the car you have. The key is “correctly maintain”. This means keeping up with oil and other fluid changes when due and being aware that “cheap” or “quick” oil changes may not be your best bet. Note that today’s engines and drive trains require lubricants with specific standards. It is not like the old days when any lubricant would do the job! Correct lubricants today cost more money and so are not usually used as part of a low cost oil change. Using the wrong lubricants may not have an immediate impact, but over time will cause engine components to fail prematurely.
Timing belts need to be changed at certain mileage or time intervals. Many vehicles will suffer internal engine damage if the timing belt fails, which is much more expensive than replacing the timing belt when recommended.
Shock absorbers and shock struts need to be replaced at approximately 80,000 miles. They should be replaced before they become unsafe and cause uneven tire wear.
The bottom line: if you have neglected maintaining your vehicle, there may be what seem high costs to pay. But if the required services are performed correctly, using correct and high quality parts, your car will give you many more miles of reliable service at a much lower cost than the purchase of a new vehicle.