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Feb 17

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Old Car?

Reading Time: 6 mins

Your old car needs fixing. Should you take it to a mechanic and get it fixed? Or is now a good time to buy yourself a new car? 

Deciding whether to repair or replace can be difficult. Repairing your car could be the easier option, but it could be one of many future repairs. Buying a new car could be a chance to invest in something more reliable, but it’s likely to cost more initially than getting repairs. 

So what is the best option? The guide below outlines some of the best times to repair and some of the best times to replace so that you can make the right choice.


When to repair…

Repairs are covered by insurance/warranty

If your car was damaged in an accident or damaged by vandalism, it’s possible that you may be covered by your car insurance provider. You may still have to pay excess upfront (which could be worth weighing up), however it could still reduce costs and make repairs more affordable. In such an instance, you may as well make use of your car insurance. It’s often not worth trying to protect you no claims bonus, as it likely isn’t worth it.

Meanwhile, if you bought your car recently from a dealership, there’s a chance repairs may be covered by a warranty. There’s no point replacing a car if you can fix it for free. Just make sure that the warranty does cover your damage.


Your car is still relatively new and has been reliable so far

If your car is still quite new, you may not be ready to replace it quite yet. You may want to consider replacing it if you’ve had it for a year and already had to take it to the garage ten times – however if this is the first problem in a year, a replacement could be a little rash. 

A new car can have a fault in the first few months and not experience another fault for several years after this. For this reason, it’s worth repairing new cars if they’re still relatively new and reliable so far. 


You NEED a car and can’t afford to buy a new one

For some people, owning a car is simply a convenience. However, for others it can be a necessity – it could be essential for your livelihood or it may be the only way of getting around if you live somewhere very remote. 

In these cases, repairing your car may be necessary if you can’t currently afford a replacement. If you don’t physically need a car, you may be able to consider doing without a vehicle for a few weeks or a few months while you save up the money for a new one. It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend on a new car – you can buy a cheap used car for a few hundred quid or you can spend upwards of ten grand on a shiny new car. 


Your total repair bill will still be less than half the value of a replacement vehicle

Many people use the 50% rule when determining whether to repair or replace an object of value. This states that you should repair an object if it costs less than half the value of a replacement. 

Consider how much you’d be willing to spend on a new car. Let’s imagine this amount is £3000. If repairs equal more than £1500, you’re better off cutting your losses and replacing your car. However, if repairs are less than this, it may make more financial sense to repair your current car. 


You love your car and don’t mind spending more money on it

Money isn’t everything. A car may have sentimental value or it may be a project that you enjoy throwing money at.

If you’ve been modifying your car, an upcoming repair could be a chance to look into more modifications. For instance, if the wheels are damaged, you could consider using this an opportunity to upgrade the rims and tyres. Scratched paintwork could even spur you into getting a new paint scheme. 

Alternatively, you may enjoy restoring a classic or vintage car. Worn parts are likely to be inevitable – repairing these parts could be essential for preserving your car.


Repairing your vehicle could give you the option to sell your car

It could make sense to repair your car in order to then sell it and buy a new one.

Selling a damaged car is very difficult. Most buyers won’t be interested and those that are interested will only be willing to pay a small price. Selling your car for scrap may be the only other option – but you’ll get even less money for this.

Fixing your car could be an opportunity to sell your car at a better price. If you’re currently paying off a finance scheme, selling up could allow you to pay off a greater chunk of this loan. Alternatively, it could give you money to buy a new car – this could be enough to buy a car in cash or enough to put down a deposit on a car loan. It could even give you the option to part-exchange your vehicle.

You simply need to weigh up whether the cost of repairing your car is worth the value it could add to the price tag. There’s no point repairing a car for £700 if you can only sell it for £500. 

Should You Repair Or Replace Your Old Car?


When to replace…


Your car has a high mileage and requires frequent repairs

The more miles a car has done, the greater risk of wear and tear. Generally, once a car has exceeded 100,000 miles – and certainly 150,000 miles – parts will start failing one by one. The clutch may go, a month later the alternator may fail and a couple months later the brakes may need to be replaced – you’ll be constantly spending money to keep your car alive.

At this point, many people choose to get a new car. By replacing your old car with something newer, you’ll save money in the long run.


Repairs are almost as/more expensive than buying a new car

This relates back to the 50% rule. If repair costs equal more than half the cost of buying a new car, you’re better off replacing your car rather than splurging on repairs.

You certainly shouldn’t be willing to pay more on repairs than the cost of a replacement. If you’re dealing with major engine damage or are having to replace a gearbox or a catalytic converter, the price of repairs could well be more than the cost of a replacement, in which you’re better off replacing. 


Your car had a recurring problem that no-one can fix

Occasionally a car will develop a problem that seemingly no-one can fix. It could be a leak to which no mechanic can find the source or an unexplained drain on the battery. You may find that you’re able to temporarily fix it, but the issue could keep coming back. Such problems can be extremely frustrating and could be a good reason to replace your vehicle.

Of course, all faults can be fixed – the issue is finding that mechanic who can solve the mystery. You may be able to pay extra to see a specialist, but this added cost may not be worthwhile if it’s only a cheap car.


You can’t afford the fuel costs and insurance rates of your current car

It may not just be repair costs that are draining your bank. Your current car could also be guzzling fuel and it may be very expensive to insure.

A replacement could be a chance to not only buy a more reliable vehicle, but also something more fuel-efficient and insurance-friendly


Your car no longer suits your lifestyle

Another good reason to replace your car could be that it simply no longer suits your lifestyle. Maybe you’ve recently had a child and need a bigger four-door car or perhaps you’ve moved to the city and need something smaller and more economical. 

The fact that your current car is now damaged could make this the perfect excuse to finally buy a new car that is better suited to your new lifestyle. If you don’t replace it now, you’ll likely replace it in a few months anyway. 


You’ve fallen out of love with your car

It’s possible that your current car may simply no longer excite you. Perhaps it’s a very basic car and you’re now eager for something a little snazzier. If this is the case, now could be a great time to replace your car once and for all. 


Repairing your current car and selling it could still be an option. However, you may simply prefer to cut your losses if it’s already old and has cost you a lot of money in past repairs. You will know when the passion is no longer there.


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