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Is it worth repairing an older car?

by Navyatha Sandiri

When it’s time to stop repairing an old car that broke down or failed its MOT, and what are your options when you get rid of an older vehicle?

When an older car breaks down or goes in for its MOT or service, it can be a nerve-wracking time.

Will it be easy and inexpensive to make any necessary repairs? Or are they going to cost so much that you’re left wondering if it’s worth forking out to keep your old engine running, or if it’s going to be a case of throwing good money after bad?


Find a reliable garage

This is where the trustworthy mechanic comes in so useful. It’s worth the effort to find a garage that you can rely on and mechanics that take the time to get to know you and your car.

They can tell you whether repairs are likely to be relatively straightforward – replacing tires, windscreen wipers and exhausts generally fit into this category. And they can also break the sad news that issues such as corrosion, ABS braking, steering rack wear, power steering leakage, and catalytic converter problems could mean that it’s time to say goodbye.

A good mechanic will also be able to flag up if there are other problems that need to be fixed in the near future. For example, if the tires are fine at the moment, but show the kind of wear that means they will need to be replaced within a few months.

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So both the current state of the car and the way it could deteriorate need to be taken into account when deciding whether or not to reduce your losses.

Breaking down the costs

A shiny new car is a great attraction to step up to something new in the factory – though sometimes it’s more difficult than worth it. With every major asset purchase you make, you need to consider initial costs and long-term costs.

The initial cost is the money you’re putting in front of you. This means buying the price and getting it on the road. Not many of us can afford a new car out of pocket, so you can trade-in your vehicle to make up for the price of your new car, or sell it through a private sale. If your car is not in the best condition, you may need to leave a generous deposit when you sell (if you can) and buy a new car. This means applying for funding.

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Long-term costs are the ongoing costs of maintaining, repairing, and insuring the car. You will also have to take into account registration and/or compulsory third party insurance (CTP) per year so that you’re new car is street legal.

You should also figure out how much it costs the car to operate – that’s the weekly cost of fuel. Add all of these to a rough picture of how much you pay for a new car every week, month, or year. And check out some reviews of the car before you buy.

What the old car might cost

To make a sound decision, you’re going to find out how much your old car would cost to operate, maintain, and fix. Older cars often need to be replaced as the components hit the end of their life cycle. Also if you’ve kept your car at any scheduled service, parts still need to be replaced. For example, even five-year-old vehicles can need a fan belt replacement – it easily costs four figures.

Through the aid of a professional mechanic (or maybe two for a second opinion), you will get a rundown of what needs to be fixed immediately and what needs to be replaced in the near future. It is also useful when preparing a vehicle for sale, as repairs add value to buyers.

Read more: How to maintain a car engine?

Then you need to figure out how much the car costs in fuel each week and on-going maintenance — maybe your vehicle needs more facilities, more often than not. When your vehicle is already under lease, add to the daily repayments – or if it comes to the end of the loan, how much it will cost to pay it off (including any early withdrawal fees).

Make a decision – make the number

It’s just about the numbers.

When a new vehicle can be financed for about the same price you pay for the old one – and it performs better than repairs, the solution is clear. But it is always a good thing to err on the side of caution, in particular if you have a young family. When you can pull out of a safe and reliable car a few more years – do it. If not, you will feel more comfortable with a new car.