Old cars bring new problems to your life. We would all love to simply drive that old beast into old age, never needing to stop and consider our car. Unfortunately, time and wear inevitably set in and drag our vehicles toward the junkyard. We see our neighbors’ flashy new cars and wonder if the time is right. At the same time, we all know someone who’s kept a 30 year old car running like a dream through the years; proper care can ensure a very long auto life.
So which will it be? When you’re car’s coasting into late middle age, something’s got to be done. You’ve got two options: ditch the beater and buy new, or dig into your trusty old companion and give it the repairs it needs to remain road compatible. This guide will help you make the difficult decision about whether to buy new or fix up your current car.
Many factors will contribute to your decision. Don’t forget to take these things into account:
- Maintenance. Older cars take a lot of work. A functioning classic is a labor of love, every time. No car is made so perfectly that it’ll drive for decades without a dedicated owner. And remember, driving with bad parts is risky business. Since you’ve had this car for a while now, you’re probably pretty aware of the likely maintenance costs you’ll be putting in to keep it up. If you’re unsure of how much effort it will take or the cost, check the relevant Haynes manual. This will give some idea of how much time and money it’ll take to you keep things up. Verdict: if you’ve got the skills, the free time, and the cash, keep it up. If you want a car you don’t have to worry about, get the new one.
- Car Purpose. Are you looking for a new hotrod to impress the country club, a convenient compact to get you through the commute, or a heavy duty carrier for all your kids’ sports gear? Different cars age at different rates. Check Consumer Reports for reliability ratings. And if you’re simply looking to make an impression, it’s still not such a simple choice: an older car, fixed up nicely, will impress serious gearheads, while a flashy sports car will make ordinary heads turn wherever you go. Doing your research will help you decide the long term economics of your decision. Verdict: It all depends on what you want out of your car. Some cars age quickly, others are very durable. Add up costs and benefits and consider your needs before deciding.
Gas. Gas prices keep rising, and no one can say whether or not the trend will continue. Some older cars can get progressively worse mileage as they age. Consider this when thinking about your decision. New cars pose some difficulties, too. While some cars are built with efficiency in mind, other, flashier models may burn through gas like it’s nothing. Verdict: If your car’s mileage is getting worse, consider trading in. When looking at newer cars, make sure to inquire to your dealer about its fuel-efficiency