Automotive

When to retire a car

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 5th, 2019 6:54 pm
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[OP]
Member
Nov 18, 2004
403 posts
72 upvotes
Toronto

When to retire a car

Asking others who aim to 'drive a car into the ground' - my family always drove cars for a long time -- Any rules of thumb on what repair will break the camel's back? At what point do you give it up for a new(er) car? I don't like switching cars all the time and believe financially you are better off driving it into the ground - but maybe it is better to sell while you still have value.

I think the next trip to the garage is going to be expensive so I should set a limit ahead of time.
37 replies
Deal Expert
Jan 15, 2006
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Richmond Hill
First oil change.
Deal Guru
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Mar 9, 2007
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Think of the Childre…
When it's not safe to drive it and cost too much to repair than worth = bye bye car.

WOULD SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!
Banned
Apr 27, 2019
406 posts
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There's no legit answer to this. Some people will pay extortionist rates to keep a NEW Audi and others will just trade out within 3-4 years.

I drove my beige Corolla into the ground because I liked driving it. There were a couple points where I could have got out and saved $1000 on brakes or shocks and folded that into the next vehicle.

If the car is running good, you can sell "as is" and maybe that's what you want to do right now. but who knows? this game is a bit of a lottery...unless you have a typically expensive/unreliable make/model.
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Jan 15, 2006
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firestarter99 wrote: There's no legit answer to this. Some people will pay extortionist rates to keep a NEW Audi and others will just trade out within 3-4 years.

I drove my beige Corolla into the ground because I liked driving it. There were a couple points where I could have got out and saved $1000 on brakes or shocks and folded that into the next vehicle.

If the car is running good, you can sell "as is" and maybe that's what you want to do right now. but who knows? this game is a bit of a lottery...unless you have a typically expensive/unreliable make/model.
I once owned a car that I paid $500 for and it was worth "maintaining" till something major went on it... the head gasket went and was definitely not worth fixing at that point.
Banned
Apr 27, 2019
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OP is trying to hedge between what he could get out of the car before he knows 100% the repair bill will be $$$.

Any car can be repaired. You are correct, it's not always worth it to do so.
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Jul 30, 2007
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I do it when my piggy bank is fat enough so I can get the next latest and greatest ....
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Sep 8, 2017
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FJF23J12DAZ wrote: black book value < repair cost
Cheapo-Findo wrote: When it's not safe to drive it and cost too much to repair than worth = bye bye car.
Would either of you care to explain this reasoning? It's never made any sense to me.

Just say the car is worth $2k and the repair is $2k. What are you going to do with that money instead? It's not enough for a new car. It only covers a few months of a new lease or finance, where you're also locked in making those payments for another couple of years.
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Sep 1, 2004
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derass wrote: Would either of you care to explain this reasoning? It's never made any sense to me.

Just say the car is worth $2k and the repair is $2k. What are you going to do with that money instead? It's not enough for a new car. It only covers a few months of a new lease or finance, where you're also locked in making those payments for another couple of years.
The question is will it cost another $2K a month or two later.

There is a point where fixing an old car is good money chasing bad.

I don't own anything long enough to know what that point is. All I know if I had a beater Civic in 90s and it costs too much money for mechanic to find out what's wrong with the dash cluster where the speedo and odo went dead, making it impossible to sell. From that point forward, unless I'm totally broke, I swear off any cars without warranty.

Then I learnt about leasing, and how much opportunity cost buying cars, had never look back. Cash for cars only if it's rare and appreciates.
Last edited by Xtrema on Dec 5th, 2019 12:54 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Sr. Member
Dec 15, 2015
689 posts
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Toronto
barold wrote: Asking others who aim to 'drive a car into the ground' - my family always drove cars for a long time -- Any rules of thumb on what repair will break the camel's back? At what point do you give it up for a new(er) car? I don't like switching cars all the time and believe financially you are better off driving it into the ground - but maybe it is better to sell while you still have value.

I think the next trip to the garage is going to be expensive so I should set a limit ahead of time.
How much have you spent on the car over the year, how much is the car worth? What have you budgeted for yearly car repairs/maintenance?

How much have you saved to put towards a new car?
Deal Addict
Jan 31, 2007
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My rule is if it having issues or need long list of major maintenance and it's cost is equal or more than what the car worth.

For example, I just got new car this April.
Reason is, I know it need new brake and rotor (all 4) in months, need long list of major maintenance. Need new summer tire, and winter tire is almost done too. The winter wheels s cracked because of hitting pot hole and have slow leak that need to top up every 4-5 days. And all the sudden the whole HVAC working on and off, is not completely dead but sometimes work sometime doesn't.
The car is 15 years old. So I decided to let it go.
Got $4000 trade in value. I. Pretty sure I will spend over $4000 to fix the issue and do all those maintenance.
******************************************************
Bright side of RFD: 4 X Koodo $40/8GB plan
Dark side of RFD: Tons of stuff that I don't need but still got them because of RFD
******************************************************
[OP]
Member
Nov 18, 2004
403 posts
72 upvotes
Toronto
It s a good point - to date the car has cost less than expected for repairs and maintenance costs have been more than reasonable.

With regard to the new car, it's tough to say. I don't have a specific car fund - but rather it would be a reduction of savings/investment. One thing I was glad I never got into as a young man was leasing - it would be nice to get a new car every few years but that becomes expensive and personally there are other things I'd rather blow money on.
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Jan 27, 2006
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derass wrote: Would either of you care to explain this reasoning? It's never made any sense to me.

Just say the car is worth $2k and the repair is $2k. What are you going to do with that money instead? It's not enough for a new car. It only covers a few months of a new lease or finance, where you're also locked in making those payments for another couple of years.
I completely agree with you.

However, many people have a somewhat unfounded fear that once repairs start on a car, then it's a never ending round of repairs - ie once something breaks, everything else will break soon after. I have yet to see any fact based reporting on this however there's a lot of stories about one repair bill after another without much follow-up or context to those stories - ie was the car properly maintained in the first place, was the mechanic any good, make or model of vehicle trending... As with most things car related, it's a YMMV type of world out there.
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Sep 8, 2017
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Xtrema wrote: The question is will it cost another $2K a month or two later.

There is a point where fixing an old car is good money chasing bad.
craftsman wrote: However, many people have a somewhat unfounded fear that once repairs start on a car, then it's a never ending round of repairs
That's fair. I never looked at it that way. If the car's a lemon, that's one thing. But if you want to get rid of a good car because it needs tires and brakes that haven't been done in 5 years, then that doesn't make sense to me. I guess the difference is maintenance vs repairs.
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Jun 24, 2006
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When Our mechanic calls my wife ( not Me!) and tells Her the vehicle is no longer suitable or safe for driving.....

Not even remotely kidding.
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Apr 21, 2004
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Whichever comes first:
  • when repairs are going to be really costly and when a fix won't extend the life of the system three to four years out (frequent engine or transmission issues, might as well replace those from the scrap yard, suspension components once they're all fixed will get you at least 40-50k km, after market A/C compressor will be $300-500 plus 2-3 hours of labor but will last four to five years, so goes with alternator and starter)
  • when you find a compelling enough used or brand new car with the features you want
  • you hit payday and win $10 million and would love that new luxury car
  • safety concerns - but that's mostly related to suspension components or engine/transmission issues, which is included in the first point
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Apr 21, 2004
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OP, can't your prioritize the repair items ( so it's not as daunting) and lump those that typically get done together (timing belt, water pump only if really required) since labor cost is typically more expensive than after market parts?
Jr. Member
Sep 19, 2018
133 posts
242 upvotes
I rationalize and agonize over this every time I read an article or watch a review on a car I like Face With Tears Of Joy

For me it comes down to a couple of things:

1: Safety first - if there are new significant safety advances I don’t want my family or me in something that isn’t what’s currently considered a safe car

2: the 7 or 8 year itch - if you’re a car enthusiast you may eventually have to scratch that itch and sprint for something new. If luck is on my side I try to time it with year end or sales. Looking at my own buying history I tend to change every 7 to 8 years. If you’re on a payment or business lease you pay for 3 or 4 years then I pay it off and drive it for 3 or 4 more years without much headache. Can still sell it for some amount after

Of course I may end up holding my car indefinitely since they aren’t making many options for customers who want manuals anymore Loudly Crying Face
Newbie
Sep 5, 2013
90 posts
38 upvotes
Mississauga
barold wrote: Asking others who aim to 'drive a car into the ground' - my family always drove cars for a long time -- Any rules of thumb on what repair will break the camel's back? At what point do you give it up for a new(er) car? I don't like switching cars all the time and believe financially you are better off driving it into the ground - but maybe it is better to sell while you still have value.

I think the next trip to the garage is going to be expensive so I should set a limit ahead of time.
I track expenses via spreadsheet and this year has been the largest yet, but if I average the repairs/maintenance expenses over the cost of my ownership period, I'm still financially ahead, by repairing the existing car vs starting fresh leasing a new one.

Yet:
(1) If the car is unreliable and repeatedly has large unusual expenses - that's a time to consider a new car. Your time is valuable and you need to feel safe.
(2) If the body is rusted out beyond reasonable repair. I rust proof mine, knock on wood - it's still in good shape.
(3) If you're flush with cash and are having a mid-life crisis - go for it, life is short.

I try to go for between 12-15 years, then start again.
Beyond that, odd issues just start arising. But again, allot of it is luck of the draw with your car.

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