When to Get Rid of a Car & When to Repair It – Learn the Signs

when to get rid of a car

This photo, captured in Montgomery, Vermont, is a good reminder that if you ignore vehicle (and home) maintenance, you should prepare for your car to slowly become a planter! They won’t fix themselves.

The average age of a vehicle in the U.S. is at a record 11.6-years old. By that age, your car or truck will have moved beyond the maintenance phase (oil changes, replacing worn items like tires), and it’s well into the repair phase of vehicle ownership.

When to Repair & When to Get Rid of a Car

Things are breaking, and you’re occasionally breaking the bank trying to fix it. You’re at the point where you need to know when to get rid of a car. Below are some top tips to maintain an old vehicle, as well as some signs it might be time to move on.

Not Ready to Get Rid of It: Top Maintenance Items

Have a quality mechanic inspect any items that wears; this includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • Tires

  • Belts

  • Hoses

  • Brakes and rotors

  • Front-end components

    Steering and suspension

  • Exhaust system

  • Battery

    Test your battery every six months; this is especially important for those who reside in colder climates and prior to winter.

If you’re committed to keeping your older vehicle, and are on a budget, ask a mechanic to inspect all the above areas. If there are multiple parts that need attention, request a schedule of what needs replacing, and when, based on urgency.  For example, you may need to replace tires immediately in order to drive safely and pass a state inspection.

You may have another 10,000 miles before needing to replace your timing belt, which buys you nearly one year to budget for that timing belt. It’s usually pricey maintenance item you can’t ignore without risking catastrophic engine failure. Once you have a schedule of recommended services, create reminders in your calendar to follow-up and schedule service.

It’s Time to Sell, or Just Get Rid of It

Here are some signs that it’s probably time to move on:

  • Your repair costs keep going up.

    Keep track of your maintenance and repair history and expenditures, and note whether you have a higher frequency of repairs per year compared to previous years of ownership.

  • Check online for the standards for your car.

    If the number of annual repairs for non-maintenance items starts to increase, along with the average price of the repairs, it’s time to investigate continuing ownerships costs. You can do this by researching on automotive forums which problems others, who drive the same year/make/model vehicle are experiencing, based on their mileage.

  • Make a “conditional decision.”

    Sometimes, the decision is based on pure economics, or what Openbay’s founder & CEO, Rob Infantino, calls a “conditional decision.”

    He explains: “Financially, if you’re in the position to afford a newer vehicle, or to take on a car payment, leave the old clunker behind.

    If budget is tight, it may make sense to continue making repairs, even if the cost of the repairs is more than the value of the vehicle. If your vehicle’s getting you from Point-A to Point-B, and you don’t have a car payment, it might be worth the repairs.”

When it’s time to book repair and maintenance service, do it with Openbay, which allows you to quickly compare, book and pay for automotive service near you.

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