Fix it or Ditch it: Is it Time to Replace Your Ride?

Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Is it worth putting up with the occasional big repair bill and less-than-perfect-paint on your old car to avoid a new-car payment for the next several years? This quiz might help you make a decision -- finally.

You can probably eke a few more miles out of your ancient automobile if it's been:

If you've had the car from new and been nothing but nice to it, with frequent oil changes and scheduled services, then your car will likely last well past six figures on the odometer with few complaints.

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One way to keep the cost of repairs down on your old clunker is:

The best way to save money is to do the repairs yourself, which is especially easy if you're handy with a wrench and your car is at least a couple decades old, verging on classic. Modern cars and their sophisticated computer systems can be a bit tricky to navigate once you've got the hood open.

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Replacing your car becomes a need rather than a want when:

If you have to make sales calls all across the state, or if you live in a small town with zero public transportation, you're going to need a car that won't let you down. Investing in a newer car in this case may be investing in yourself, my friend.

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One of the most clear-cut reasons for keeping your car instead of buying a new one is:

If you've paid off the car … you own it, baby! That's one less bill in the mail, one less automatic withdrawal to account for every month, one less collector calling your phone every day (all day). And if the car you've paid off is a sweet Olds on twenty-fours, well, that's just all the more reason.

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Let's say you've paid off your car completely. If you continue to drive that dear old automobile for five more years, it's the monetary equivalent of:

The money you don't spend on car payments will equal roughly the cost of a new car. What you do with that money is up to you. Fill the pool with lobsters, maybe.

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A pretty good sign that it's time to replace your old car is:

If you average the amount you've spent on repairs in the last year or so and it's more than a typical car payment, you might as well buy a new car. Pro tip: Resign yourself to the fact that your kids will be embarrassed by any car you're in.

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Lots of little things can make your car run longer so you can eke the maximum value out of it. Which of these will NOT help you reach a quarter-million miles?

No cosmetic thing, however tacky or talismanic, will help your car live longer. Only regular maintenance (and the occasional hug) will do.

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If you do the math and decide to keep your old car, you should consider investing in:

Even with regular maintenance, once you hit six figures on the odometer, things are going to break. They're old, after all. Better to know a guy with a tow truck who will come pick up you and your car at the side of the highway in a rainstorm than to wish for a fairy godmother to whisk you away to someplace warm -- maybe to one of those islands where they only ride bikes.

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What's the average life expectancy of a modern car?

Eight whole years! That's longer than just about every car loan any reputable bank or dealership will give you. That's a few years of payment-free driving!

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How many miles can you expect to put on a new car before it's ready for the wrecking yard?

It used to be common knowledge that a car was probably ready to drop-dead as soon as the nines all rolled over to zeros on the odometer, but car quality has greatly improved over the years. In fact, cars now regularly withstand 150,000 miles of your terrible driving and neglectful maintenance habits.

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If you really want to ditch your car and sell it, how do you find out what it's worth?

Is there anything the Internet doesn't know? Of course, there are plenty of things your dad doesn't know -- and for the love of Enzo Ferrari, don't do that last one.

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Insurance rates for a new car are generally:

A new car usually mean higher insurance rates. I know … your old car breaks down all the time and repairs are expensive; but insurance doesn't cover breakdowns. It covers accidents and theft, and new cars are much spendier on those fronts.

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If you buy a brand-new car, you'll get which of these money-saving benefits?

A warranty doesn't always cover maintenance (though some new cars do come with that perk), but it does cover any mistakes the manufacturer made and any recall work that needs to be done.

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Buying a new car usually means a new car payment, which also means:

While the first answer will probably be true, and the last answer will feel true, the only actually true answer is that you'll need to remember to include finance charges and monthly interest when budgeting for a new car.

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If you do pay off your old car and hang on to it for a while, what's the smartest thing to do with the cash you save?

If you can save even part of your old car payment every month, you'll have the cash on hand to make a fat down payment for a new car in just a few years. Added benefit: The bigger your down payment on the big day, the less you have to finance.

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When you're finally ready to let go of your falling-apart car, you'll get the best deal by:

If you can stand the hassle of placing an ad, dealing with phone calls and scheduling test drives, you'll likely get a better deal from a private buyer than you will from a dealership.

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Your old car is sucking your wallet dry, but how much do you think it will cost to maintain a new car properly for the first 100,000 miles?

Oil changes, tune-ups, belt replacements, tires – they all add up. And they're not usually covered by the warranty.

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Once you've bitten the new-car bullet, how can you avoid having to go through this decision making process again in three years or so?

They don't print those things and shove them in the glove box just to take up space you could use for your collection of sunglasses. Read the manual -- especially the service schedule -- then do it.

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Let's talk depreciation. How much less will a brand-new car be worth three years after you drive it off the lot?

The answer is 45 percent less, but sometimes ditching a crappy old car can be such a relief that it makes up for the financial hit by reducing your anxiety-induced insomnia.

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If you can't afford to keep repairing your current hunk of junk, but you also can't afford a shiny new car, how can you make sure you don't buy another crappy used car?

Pay the fees and get the reports -- as many as you can find. CarFax is just one, and it's the best-known, but it doesn't cover everything that the car may have been through in its life. The more you know, the more likely you'll be able to live with your new-to-you used car.

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