The power steering hummed with each corner I took while my wife and I were out shopping before the holidays. It had become a common occurrence, especially when the Minnesota winter temps dropped into the single digits. Most likely, the power steering pump needs to be replaced — a repair that would cost us several hundred dollars.
“I can’t wait to get a new van,” said my wife.
It’s a phrase I hear from my wife each time our van shows its age by making a questionable noise or needing a repair. Our van is almost ten years old, and has over 120,000 miles on it, so it’s understandable that things have begun to wear out.
And I can certainly understand where my wife is coming from. Each age-related repair or maintenance item is money out of our pocket. If we had a new van, repairs would be extremely rare, and they’d also be covered by the warranty.
Despite this, I still want to drive our old van as long as possible — because it’s cheaper to continue making repairs than to buy a new one.
To prove my point, I stated the following pieces of information:
- We purchased our current van brand new, financing it with a five year loan. The monthly payments were $465 a month, or $5,580 per year. If we were to get a different vehicle, we would again have to finance it, most likely with a similar monthly payment.
- In comparison, the only repair we had in 2013 was new brakes. They cost $500, which averages out to $42 a month.
What my wife really wants is peace of mind that we won’t have reoccurring repair bills draining our bank account on an aging van. We know we’ll likely have to fix the power steering in 2014, and I readily admit there’s no guarantee we won’t incur additional major repairs.
Here’s the plan we created to handle our van situation:
- Keep our van for sure until the end of February. At that point, we will have completed our debt management plan and be in a much better place financially.
- Repair the power steering; hopefully this can hold off until March.
- Begin saving for a different vehicle.
- If we have an additional two major repairs on the van, we start looking for a new vehicle. Otherwise, we keep saving and reassess our situation at this time next year.
Together, we came up with a compromise that allows us to save some cash before purchasing a different vehicle — but also recognizes that repair bills are beginning to occur more frequently than we’d like.
How do you decide when enough is enough and get rid of a vehicle?