Should You Trade-In Your Used
Car ... Or Keep It?
You've decided to buy a new car (or a "new" used car) and you're wondering what to do with your old one. Should you trade it in? Sell it? Keep it?
Chances are your old vehicle is either paid off or close to being paid off, so the monthly budget issue may be advantageous for keeping it.
Insurance costs should also be less on an older car. And you could raise the deductibles to get it even lower.
Depreciation is also less of an issue with an older vehicle. The big losses in car value take place during the first five or six years.
You can even use your old car for commuting and around town errands. This will save wear, tear and resale value on your new car.
The big issue, however, is potential maintenance costs. Will you get clobbered by expensive repairs down the road? Savings from the above factors may be more than offset by future repair costs.
Well, you don't really know for sure. It's typically a hard call to make because without a crystal ball, there's no doubt it's a bit of a gamble.
However, here's some component examples with the mileages when they typically need to be replaced. This can help you weigh the odds a little more in or out of your favor.
- Alternator, 125,000 miles
- Brake rotors, 80,000 miles
- Brake drums, 150,000 miles
- Brake calipers, 150,000 miles
- Clutch, 75,000 miles
- Headlamp, 100,000 miles
- Sealed front bearings, 125,000 miles
- Shock absorbers, 75,000 miles
- Starter, 100,000 miles
- Timing belt, 100,000 miles
- Timing chain, 100,000 miles
Cars are now built to last longer than ever before. And you can see from the above list that the more expensive repairs tend to occur at around the 100,000 mile mark.
Keep in mind that as you approach 150,000 miles or so, a vehicle often has paint and rust issues. Interior upholstery also tends to have more severe problems at this time. And repairs made at 75,000 miles are coming around again.
From a purely economic point of view, trading in or selling a relatively young vehicle because it needs a few hundred dollars of repairs would not be wise. On the other hand, the prospect of spending thousands of dollars on a vehicle on its last legs should be carefully considered.