Cars remain a necessity in most parts of the country today. A person can no longer walk out their front door in those areas and get to the grocery store, the library, or other destinations without having a vehicle. However, when a car repeatedly breaks down, the owner wonders if they should pay to have it fixed again or buy a new car. It's frustrating to sink money into a car only to have it stop running again in a short period, but the thought of a car payment terrifies many. If repairs are needed frequently, the time may have come to upgrade. Before taking this step, consider the following.
Going Into Debt
Whether repairing or purchasing a vehicle, a person might find they must go into debt. They may find they are incurring debt related to a major car repair or collision repair. On the other hand, buying a new car often means taking on new debt. Before making a decision, the person must sit down and figure out which serves as the best option.
Repair or Replace
When the time comes to decide whether to repair or replace the car, it's hard to know where to start. It all comes down to numbers, but numbers can't tell a person everything. By calculating the cost of a replacement car and a repair, the person has a starting point. Other factors need consideration at this time. They include the amount still owed on the current vehicle and the number of times the car has recently been in the shop. Details such as these could lead to choosing one option over the other, especially when the numbers for both options are close.
Begin the process by evaluating the current value of the vehicle. When making the calculation, assume the car isn't in running condition. Visit sites such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book to come up with an estimated value. Next, get estimates from one or more mechanics for the repairs. Ask them how much the repair will add to the value of the vehicle. They should be able to provide a ballpark figure. Determine if the car could be sold immediately upon completion of the repair and how much it will sell for its current condition. If the sale price would allow the owner to recoup the repair cost, it's wise to consider having the repair carried out. In contrast, if the owner cannot recoup the cost of the repair or the vehicle breaks down frequently, and it's impacting their employment negatively or other areas of their life, it's likely time to replace the car.
Paying for Repairs
When a repair serves as the best option, the owner must come up with the funds. Many people find this challenging. Fortunately, a person can take specific steps to raise the cash needed to have the work completed.
Visit more than one shop to get estimates. Most car parts cost a fraction of what the owner pays in labor. By visiting different mechanics, a person might find they save money on the labor. However, make sure the individual doing the work has the proper training to fix vehicles. A vehicle can be a deadly machine, so a person should never cut corners when having it repaired.
Consider Doing the Work Yourself
Men and women have more options than ever before when it comes to learning a new skill. Library books become of great help when a person wishes to try something new, and the internet offers a wealth of videos on any topic imaginable. If you choose this option, watch the video from start to finish before purchasing the parts. An auto parts supplier can help if you have any questions after watching the video. Benefit from their knowledge. When repairing, watch the video again. Pause it after each step and complete that step. Do this until the repair is complete.
Speak with the mechanic to learn if all repairs are required right away. Safety features need immediate attention. However, cosmetic fixes and those issues that don't affect the vehicle's operation can sit until more money is available to address them.
Establish a Budget
Sit down and create a budget to see where funds are available to pay for the repair. Look for areas where items aren't necessary. Many people find they can pay for the repair by cutting out purchased lunches, bringing their lunch from home, or eliminating their morning stop at their favorite coffee shop. If the funds aren't available, consider halting any contributions to your saving account temporarily. As a last resort, dip into emergency funds. Although doing so stresses many individuals, they find they cannot live without their car. If this serves as the only solution, make a plan to replace the funds.
Plan for the Future
While evaluating the budget, look for ways to set aside money for future repairs once you resolve the immediate problem. This prevents similar issues from arising in the future. You'll find you have peace of mind when you visit the mechanic, knowing you won't go into debt for repairs.
Replacing a Vehicle
If repairing the vehicle no longer makes sense, it's time to figure out how to replace the car. Drivers have options with their transportation. Some people choose to buy a new car, while others find a used vehicle better fits their budget. The chance of leasing also remains open to those with decent credit. Consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.
New cars depreciate rapidly. Many vehicles lose 25 percent of their value during the first year. For this reason, many individuals decide to purchase a used vehicle with low mileage. They let someone else take the hit in terms of depreciation while getting a great car at an affordable price.
Leasing a vehicle should serve as the last option, as experts say it's the most expensive way to have transportation. The lease payment only covers the dealer's profit and the vehicle's depreciation. When the lease term ends, the driver has no ownership of the car. Many lease agreements offer a buyout option when the lease term ends, with the price being determined when the driver signs the lease agreement. The purchase price and actual value of the vehicle aren't correlated.
Dealers charge numerous fees with leased cars. If the driver goes over a certain number of miles, the dealer assesses an additional cost. They do the same if the vehicle shows signs of excessive wear and tear. Review the lease agreement before signing, so there are no surprises when you return the car at the end of the term.
Used cars offer the best option for drivers today. The previous owner paid for any depreciation of the vehicle during the first year and subsequent years the car was owned. However, before purchasing a used vehicle, drivers should take the car to a mechanic they trust and have it looked over. This ensures the buyer knows of any problem, and negotiations can lower the price and accommodate the repairs of the known issues. Furthermore, it ensures you are getting a safe car that is road-ready.
Paying for the New Ride
People often go into debt to get a new car only to regret doing so down the road. They often find they are still paying on the vehicle when repairs are needed. They end up with more than one bill to keep the car operational. When possible, pay cash for the vehicle. If doing so isn't feasible, try to save a large down payment by holding the monthly payments under control.
Consider selling the current vehicle without making the necessary repairs. Share information about the issues with potential buyers, as honesty remains the best policy. Many drivers find they can sell the car to someone looking for a great deal and with the knowledge and tools to make the repairs. Both parties win in this situation. The seller gets the funds to buy a new ride, and the buyer receives a project car they can drive once the work is complete.
Never assume a vehicle isn't fixable. A repair is an option unless the vehicle has frame damage or something of that nature. If you have doubts regarding which option to select, speak to a qualified mechanic. They will tell you if you are wasting money fixing a vehicle with another mechanical breakdown shortly.
The less money a person invests in their car, the more they have other things in life. If buying a new vehicle becomes necessary, don't go overboard. Choose an affordable car, even if it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. The one thing a person needs to remember is their car shouldn't own them. It's possession and should be treated as such. When a person keeps this in mind, they find car ownership becomes more affordable.