When To Get A New Car

This is something that I really struggle with.  I’m starting to butt heads with my wife a little about our 2007 Envoy that now has 224k on the odometer.  As stated in the last two posts, I’ve been chasing an issue with the transmission and have not been able to pinpoint the problem.  I don’t think it is mechanically bad but it is still an issue.

There are also some other things wrong with it, it will need power steering lines and the turn signal switch has gone bad.  If you really want to get picky, the rear bumper needs to be replaced from when I was rear ended over the summer.  So the truck needs some work, but if that transmission is bad it will need a lot of work!

The scenario above started me thinking about this post where we will discuss when the right time to replace your car is, the truck is my daily driver so this is appropriate.

The point in which you should replace your car is different for everyone, my wife seems to think that this truck is done and trying to fix it is just wasting money.  So the first thing that we will look at is the financial impact of trying to keep an old car on the road.

My truck is currently, all parts being purchased by myself, and all the labor also being done by myself, needs around $500 worth of work.  If I need to replace the transmission or need to get it rebuilt, I’m looking at $1500.  From a financial aspect, this is about 3 months worth of new car payments assuming a $500 a month bill.  In my mind this is not enough of a cost to even think about purchasing a new car, and $1500 is just buying another car that’s not in too good a shape. 

The above scenario might change if you have to pay someone else to do the work.  With labor rates at $60+ an hour, the repair bills for the above scenario with my truck will drastically change.  Even at the $500 mark, the work involved is substantial.  I’m going to do some quick estimating, the turn signal switch that it needs will probably take 2 hours, the power steering hoses will take another 2, and troubleshooting the transmission issues will take 4, add another 4 for the repair of whatever they find.  That is now 12 hours of labor which will cost $720, add that to the $500 and you are now at $1220!  This is still not high enough of a number to replace the car, at least not in my view.  Now, if you have to replace the transmission, this may be a different story. 

I did some quick research on replacing the transmission.  The book hours for swapping out an Envoy transmission is 8.5 hours.  At $70 per hour, that’s about $600 in labor over the price of a transmission.  Remember, you will not get any warranty or anything on a used transmission so you will be purchasing at least a remanufactured unit, which will run around $1300 for a new one.  That is a total of $1900 to replace the transmission.  Adding the $1220 from above to the $1900 here, and I am starting to think that this truck is not worth the money to fix.

I’m going to suggest this as a good rule of thumb for trying to figure out whether or not to repair a vehicle or go for a replacement.  If the repair costs are more than what the vehicle is worth, don’t fix it, get a new one.  In my case, the Envoy is only worth $2891 in good condition, if I trade it in it’s a laughable $500.  So this truck is pretty much not worth fixing from a financial point of view. 

There is an argument to be made that if it runs good and the repairs are minor, it doesn’t really matter what the cost is.  You know the maintenance history and if you are like me and have taken good care of the vehicle, the rest of the truck is in known good condition.  If you just fix the issue, you can keep on going.  In my case, I am not fixing the issue and I will just drive it till it fails.  100 miles a week, this could take awhile.

There are other reasons to not repair a vehicle, if there is significant rust you should just move on.  Unless you are restoring a classic or just love the car that you have, rust is a killer and weakens the structure of the vehicle ultimately making the vehicle unsafe.  If there is significant rust just move on.

Body Damage!  I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.  Buy a car that looks good and fix the mechanics if you have to.  My Porsche did not look too great and any attempts at making it look better were mediocre at best.  So if the car is visually damaged, and that is important to you, you may want to get a different car.

Parts are too expensive.  If you are following an economic plan of some sorts and you have a daily driver that is expensive to maintain, and now it’s giving you issues……You may want to think about replacing it.  Take the Porsche for example, the parts to fix it are pretty expensive and it’s not even a desirable model!

You want a new car, or different car.  Hey you only live once, and if you just plain want a new car, go get one.  You’re an adult, you can make that decision.  Of course if you can’t afford a new car that is on you!  You may just be tired of the car that you have.  I know that I’m pretty tired of the Envoy, but I’m on a serious economic plan that does not really allow room for a new vehicle.  If it happens, I’ll deal with it, but for now….

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