The Tipping Point: When to Repair or Sell Your Car

Owning an older car that breaks down frequently can be frustrating.
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Many people hold onto older cars because they do not want to have a monthly car payment. Some older cars may not require many costly repairs, while others need frequent attention from a mechanic. Deciding whether to make a repair on your car or sell it can be a difficult decision. Instead of viewing each repair as an unrelated expense, taking the overall health of your car into consideration can help you to determine if it’s worth the investment.


Auto manufacturers continuously work to make cars safer to drive. Major safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and airbags, have been added to cars manufactured since the mid-1990’s. If your car is older than this, it likely lacks these safety features, so it isn’t able to provide you with the same level of protection. It may be worth selling your car and getting a newer one that can offer more updated safety features.

Current Repair Costs

As the owner of an older vehicle, you expect to have to put some money into your car for maintenance and repairs. Keeping track of the amount of money that you put into your car each year can help you to decide if it’s worth the investment. Totaling the cost of repairs that you’ve made to your car in the past year and dividing it by twelve can give you an idea of the average monthly cost to maintain your vehicle. If the cost of repairs is less than a monthly car payment, it’s likely a good idea to keep it.

Future Repairs

Taking your car to an Automotive Service Excellence-certified mechanic for a check-up can help you to decide if you should sell it or not. The mechanic can give you an idea of repairs that will need to be made on your car in the next year or two and pricing estimates for them. If only minor repairs are needed, it may be worth the expense; if it will require multiple costly repairs, you may want to consider selling it.


You rely on your car to get you where you need to go when you need to be there. If you’re car breaks down frequently, you may often be late for work or have trouble keeping other obligations. It may be time to sell your car if you feel like you cannot make any definite plans, because you never know when your vehicle is going to break down.

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