Automotive 101: Repair My Car or Start Shopping?
With tax time just behind us, many of us are either having to pay Uncle Sam or are waiting for that sweet tax return to hit our hands. If you’re planning for a large tax return this year, you probably have big plans for this windfall of money. Lots of times, we think that it may be that perfect time to upgrade from that old car – but is this always the best choice?
Costs of New Auto Loans
Purchasing a new or new used car can be a very exciting experience. Let’s face it – it’s usually a real thrill to walk onto a car lot, look at all the fancy new gadgets, and imagine a shiny new vehicle parked in your driveway. Once the car “fever” subsides and we come back to reality, what are we really signing up for?
Vehicle prices are at an all-time high with the average car payment being around $475 per month. The terms of automotive loans have also increased from 60 month terms up to 84 month terms. While 84 months doesn’t seem all that bad, but these new auto loans tie you down for 7 years of your life. When we have that cash burning a hole in our pockets, we need to stop and take the time to weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a new car versus repairing the car we have. So is this commitment a good idea and worth the cost?
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away – But Not Your Mechanic
One of the first things to consider is that if you have kept up on general maintenance with your vehicle – things such as oil changes, hoses, belts and other services such as coolant and brake flushes – your vehicle was inspected at different intervals and most of the surprise, large, expensive repairs may be avoided. Most of us are as excited to see our mechanic as we are our doctor, but those couple of planned checkups a year are a small price to pay compared to devastating high costs of larger, preventable repairs. Plan for these expenses in your budget: Have your vehicle inspected at regular intervals and serviced by your family mechanic to avoid high-cost repairs and extend the life of your vehicle.
Comparing Auto & TV Costs
Let’s put annual automotive general maintenance costs into perspective. A good comparison is your TV. Most of us look at this as a must have and don’t think twice about paying $100 per month for related services and upkeep, equaling an average of about $1,200 per year. However, in reality, your TV doesn’t make sure you get to work every day so that I can have financial security or take you to pick up the kids after school. Your TV does none of these essential tasks that your vehicle does, but the thought of investing $1,200 a year in a vehicle for general maintenance is a deal breaker for most.
I’m totally there with you; I would have a hard time giving up my TV, but it’s an eye opener to realize how much we spend on it yearly. Why don’t we complain and go into panic mode every month when we open expensive bills for phone service, televisions, and other goods? This really comes down to how we prioritize things.
Repair Or Replace It?
What about if my vehicle needs a lot of TLC? Let’s say your vehicle is having some major engine issues and this major repair is going to cost upwards of $2,000. Your first knee jerk reaction might be to sell the vehicle and buy a new one. This is a common reaction; $2,000 is a lot of money and not something most of us have laying around.
But let’s compare this one time auto repair cost of to a monthly car payment. A major auto repair service equaling $2,000 to get your sick car healthy again beats an average monthly auto payment of $475, or about $5,700 per year. That $2,000 investment over the time frame of a year along with some other general maintenance that you would have, even with your new vehicle, doesn’t seem all that bad anymore.
Is It Always Worth It to Fix It?
No, it isn’t always the best choice to repair your current vehicle at all costs. Most importantly, you need to make sure the repairs your vehicle needs won’t cost more than the vehicle is worth. Secondly, maybe it’s time for a different vehicle that will better fit the needs of you or your family; for instance, a more spacious or safety-conscious vehicle. Maybe you have saved up enough money to upgrade vehicles or even purchase your dream vehicle.
Be careful, however, to not buy more than you can afford. Most vehicles are not an investment that will make you money. Rather, cars are something most of us need to function in our daily routines, bringing us from point A to B. In most cases, you won’t want to trade the stress of a costly repair for a costly car payment that makes life even more stressful.
Unfortunately, there is no “cure” for car fever, but there are ways to help treat it.
Purchasing A Used Vehicle
If you have decided it is the right move to purchase a new vehicle, make sure you educate yourself as much as possible so you get the best deal for your investment. If you are buying a used vehicle, you can’t always be sure how well it has been taken care of or it has been in an accident. People selling vehicles aren’t always forthcoming with the whole story, especially if you don’t ask the right questions or know what you are looking at. Always assume you are buying someone else’s headache.
The best way to protect your investment is having your trusted local Mesa mechanic do a used car inspection on it. This way you will at least have some sort of idea about what you are purchasing and this also gives you bargaining power with the seller. At 521 Automotive, our Mesa auto mechanics are well trained and certified. Call us today to learn more about investing in a vehicle and what it takes to maintain it.
334 W 10th Ave #5
Mesa, AZ 85210
Email: [email protected]