For as long as I can remember, my family has purchased used and inexpensive cars. Subsequently, I never used a car that cost our family more than $5,000. I recently wrote about my decision between buying a used car or leasing a new one. If I decided to buy used, I would be on the hook for any repairs that needed to be done — which are often quite expensive. Some would say to repair all problems at any cost, but is this the most cost effective way?
When Not to Repair
When I was younger, I used to put a pop can in the spokes of my bike to make it sound cool. This noise isn’t so “cool” anymore. In fact, it has become slightly annoying. My 15-year-old car has recently been making a lot of noise. When I brought it to the mechanic, he informed me that it’d cost around $600 to repair the exhaust. Though this would eliminate the racket, the repair wouldn’t make my car any safer or increase its life span. I decided that a $600 repair for a car worth $2,000 was a bit hefty, so I ended up not repairing the broken part.
My friend recently informed me that his check engine light was always lit. The mechanic told him that his car’s computer was broken, and it would cost $2,000 to repair it. Since it was a non-essential fix, he politely turned down the offer.
One of my cars blew a radiator once. Since repairing it would’ve cost about the same amount as the car, we donated it for the tax write-off.
These are several examples of times when it might not be the smartest to repair your vehicle. If the repair is cosmetic or unnecessary, think twice before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
When to Repair
There are, however, times when expensive repairs need to be performed. Anything that prevents the car from starting (or running) obviously needs to be fixed, but anything that has to do with safety should also not be overlooked.
For instance, if your brakes are having problems, then they should be fixed no matter what. The last thing you want is having your brakes fail because you wanted to save a few bucks. If the repair will result in the car having a longer life, then the repair may also be worth the money.
What Does it Mean for You?
If you own a fairly new car, the major parts are probably still under warranty. With some manufacturers, your car may even be covered for maintenance items. This makes selective repairing unnecessary, as you can just drive into the dealership if anything malfunctions. If you have an older car that carries less value, though, repairs need to be thought about and researched carefully.
Don’t just make a repair because a mechanic tells you something is wrong. Do your homework and make sure that the value you get from the repair is worth the cost to you.
When was the last time you took a car in to the shop? Did you end up paying for an expensive repair that wasn’t worth the money?