Repair or Replace?

This is a question we have run into several times recently at the shop. A customer has been at the shop multiple times for different repairs on an aging vehicle and there seems to be no end in sight. Or the vehicle is in need of a large repair that may meet or exceed the value of the vehicle. What should you do if this happens to you? This blog post will help you work through the possibilities and hopefully help you make the decision that is right for you and your situation.

transmission core
Transmission core

The 3 Questions

Whenever I have a customer at the crossroads of a large repair I always ask the 3 big questions to help in deciding the correct course of action. Your personal answers to these should leave you with the information you need to make a move

  1. Does the vehicle still meet your needs?

We have all been here, you’ve had your vehicle for a few years and maybe you life situation has changed. It could be a new addition to the family requiring more space, Maybe you have a new hobby / job that requires a truck, Maybe your kids have moved out of the house and your ready to finally have your dream sports car. If you are in one of these or the many other reasons why your current car isn’t filling your current or future needs you may want to move on from the vehicle. However if the vehicle fits your needs perfectly and your happy with it you may want to repair it.

2. Can you afford to replace the vehicle?

In todays current market (August 2023) we are in a strange place for automotive purchases. Interest rates are climbing, inventory may be slim, dealers are not willing to negotiate pricing. These factors will all affect your ability to receive a great deal or an affordable car note.

3. Will you drive the vehicle for 3 or more years to make the repair cost palatable?

Sick of the am/fm radio? Want a sunroof? Hate the interior color? The car may meet your needs but really not your wants. Again another factor to consider on deciding how to proceed.

Im paying too much for repairs, Ill buy a new car.

I just had a customer email me asking for advise on how to proceed on his car. He has spent 5k on his paid off vehicle over the last 32 months. He wants to know if he should continue repairing the vehicle. I asked him to break down the repairs hes had to help me understand what is happening with the vehicle. Hes told me he has had to replace the tires, brakes, perform a tune up, oil leak repairs, and some suspension repairs. I clarified with him that not all of those expenses were repairs, most were maintenance and really shouldnt be included in his “Repair cost”.

However if we use this total cost over 32 months to look at this strictly as a cost analysis we can determine his monthly expense. 5000 divided by 32 gives us $156.25 per month. That pales in comparison to the current average of $725 per month new car payment (according to first-quarter 2023 data from Experian) not to mention the insurance cost of covering a 30-50k vehicle. Obviously with purchasing a new vehicle you will not have to worry about repairs during the warranty period but maintenance is still your responsibility.

Hopefully after reading this post you have some clarification on how to determine the right path for you and your vehicle. I would of course suggest you confer with your trusted auto repair shop to help fill in any gaps pertaining to your specific scenario. If you do not have one give us a call at the shop 865-691-3400

— Joshua Shook Sr.

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