Though our world is changing with the advances in public transit and autonomous vehicles, it’s still difficult to survive in a place like Colorado without owning a car.
The Regional Transportation District (RTD) has been in business since 1969, and benefits more than 3 million people throughout the Denver metro area. People use RTD for many reasons, from daily rides to work to using BroncosRide and BuffRide for weekend games.
But even if you take the bus or light rail regularly, chances are you still have a car to get around. You might even use your car to drive from home to a light rail station, saving you from having to find a parking spot in the increasingly difficult and expensive downtown area.
Still, the more you use other forms of transportation, the more you consider the future of today’s automobile. What will driving look like five years from now? Ten years?
Does it make sense to hold on to your old vehicle, repairing your car as problems surface, and wait for the industry to completely change? Or do you buy a new vehicle?
When your car alerts you something is wrong
Depending on how long you’ve owned your vehicle, you probably drive it every day, not really paying much attention to how well it drives. It’s there. It’s reliable. It gets the job done.
And you have a lot of other things on your mind. Like work. And the kids. And school. And this year’s vacation. And … You get the picture.
But suddenly, you start to notice a change. It might appear slowly over time. Something feels different. You start to hear a rattle or a squeal. Or your car pulls to the right or left.
Sometimes the alert is more “in your face.” If you’ve ever had a dashboard light turn on and stay on, you know what I’m talking about.
According to CarMD, in 2018, the check engine light came on most commonly for:
- Ignition coils and spark plugs
- Oxygen sensor
- Catalytic converter
- Gas cap
- Replace ignition coil
Repairing your car when any of these problems surface may not break the bank, but they can take a healthy bite out of your monthly budget. The average cost across the country for any check engine light-related repair cost sits right at $381.
Still, you don’t know until you bring it in to a mechanic and have them assess your vehicle where the problem lies or how much it will be. And there can be stress involved in that decision. CarMD also states that the most expensive car repair associated with the check engine light in 2018 cost as much as $7,150. That’s not only a budget breaker, in many cases, it’s also a deal breaker.
Can you really afford that level of car repair?
And more importantly, does it make sense?
When is repairing your car no longer a valid option? When should you consider buying something new instead?
When repairing your car is the right choice
Repairing your car and keeping it for a few more years is a personal choice. It’s one you should weigh based on how you use your vehicle, how well you like it, and where you want your money to go over the next few years.
Today’s modern vehicles are built to last much longer than vehicles from several decades ago. It’s not unheard of for any make or model to go 200,000 miles or more with very few problems.
While it is true a major repair can set you back several thousand dollars, if it gives you another 100,000 miles, and years worth of service at a relatively low cost per mile, would that be worth it to you?
If your car has always been reliable and you still enjoy driving it, the answer might be: yes.
While you might be facing a fairly significant repair right now, how are other systems on your vehicle operating? Now may be the perfect time for an overall inspection as well. Mechanics are there to help you make the best decision based on your needs and interests. But they can’t do that if you don’t ask. “What would you do” is a great way to start the conversation, and receive insight from someone who works on cars every day.
Steps to take if you’re planning on keeping your car
Your first step in the process is to find a reputable mechanic you can trust. Luckily, we can help you with that one. We’re a family owned operation who has been here for years. You’ll always see the same friendly faces when you visit our shop.
Then get a repair estimate. We work hard to keep our costs low. Rest assured when you receive our estimate for parts and labor, we’ve put a lot of time into it, ensuring it’s a reasonable offer. Parts are expensive. You have the potential of spending thousands of dollars when repairing the major systems of your vehicle.
Next, run the numbers. Kelley Blue Book is a great way to research and find exactly how much your vehicle is worth on the open market. Use that as your guideline to determine if the repair is worth it. If the repair is more than your car is worth, it might be wise to explore other options.
According to Edmunds, it may be time to buy a new car if:
- The repairs are growing in frequency and cost
- Your car is leaving you stranded more frequently
- The repair in question will cost more than half the value of the car
- You’ve been eyeing new cars anyway
Whatever your decision, be nice to your car
Whether you make the decision to invest in a new vehicle, or decide repairing your car is the way to go, remember a good mechanic is your key to a long life.
Don’t skip on regular maintenance, or push the envelope of when you come in for tune ups and minor upgrades. This one thing can help you care for your car throughout its life in the best possible way, ensuring the lowest repair bills possible while increasing the chances for reliable transportation.