Own a car long enough and you’ll face the difficult decision of choosing the right time to replace it. “The first thing I ask a customer is, ‘Does the vehicle have sentimental value?’” says Robert Stringari, an automotive consultant for AAA. “Because if it does, then cost won’t be the most compelling factor.” Otherwise, Stringari says, it’s a matter of dollars and sense. Here are some key items to consider.
Focus on finances.
It makes little sense to spend more on repairs than your vehicle is worth. First, get an estimate on what it would cost to keep your car running safely. Then look up its resale value at AAA Car Buying Service, kbb.com, or edmunds.com, where you’ll find calculators to guide you. Be honest about the condition of your car: Maybe you don’t mind those dents and scratches, but that doesn’t mean a buyer wouldn’t.
Look down the road.
Many cars need timing-belt replacement and other expensive maintenance around the 90,000-mile mark. Ask a trusted mechanic who’s familiar with your car make and model to test-drive and inspect your vehicle to give you an opinion on what repairs may lie ahead.