Buying a new car is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?
People who’ve been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty.
For purposes of our discussion, let’s assume you have a five year old vehicle. It’s now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there’ll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don’t know what to expect. For help we turned to Edmunds.com.
Edmunds has compiled maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They’re able to use manufacturer’s maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.
Of course, these projections can’t predict what will happen to your vehicle, but they do give you information to use in your decision.
Let’s look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.
So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it’s actually better news than that. You would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element is less than half that figure.
Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles: Ford Escape – $116 a month. Chevy Silverado – $131 a month. Jeep Grand Cherokee – $138 a month. Hyundai Accent – $85 a month.
Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your service advisor. They see hundreds of vehicles through their bays every month and they know your car. See if there’s any particular problem common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.
And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.
There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.
We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.