Keep your old clunker or buy a new car?

by BELLA VISTA AUTO SERVICE

It may clang and bang, but your old car may be the best bargain around. Almost any car can be nursed to 250,000 miles without endangering your life, and even a new engine is cheaper than all but the cheapest used cars.

“Those repair bills are really adding up.” Do the math. Does the cost of repairs exceed the cost of a new car? A typical new car is $21,000, and about $350 a month for five years after 20% down. A rebuilt transmission might run $1,500, a huge outlay in one chunk, but far less than the $4,200 a year you’d spend on new-car payments alone. If you can’t afford repairs twice a year, it’s unlikely you can afford a new-car payment every month. The average sales tax that you would pay when buying a new car would more than cover the cost of most major repairs you would need in a year’s time.

“I’m nervous driving an older car.” Maybe little things are beginning to go: a new thermostat one month, a starter the next. You might simply get road service insurance and carry a cell phone, and remember that even new cars aren’t immune to mechanical failure. The upside of frequent breakdowns is that you’ll get to know mechanics quite well. Find one you like, become a loyal customer, and the next time he fixes your car, ask him to take a few minutes to see what else will need repair soon.

Never skimp on maintenance. Pay special attention to the things that will cost you a fortune if they break. That means regular oil changes, tire rotations, and transmission service, even if the car is running fine. Timing belt replacement, for example, seems costly at around $600, and replacing one for no other reason than the odometer has turned 90,000 miles might seem wasteful. But let one break and you’ll find that repairing bent valves could cost you four times that.

Remember, a new car is no longer new when it is driven off the lot.

Bella Vista Auto Service believes the best time to own your vehicle is when it’s paid for. Let your local mechanic help you maximize the life of your vehicle.

 

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