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When To Let it Go

A while ago I had to decide about my car, about whether it was worth repairing it, or whether it was time to retire the old girl and look at another used car. For my needs I have made a conscious decision not to buy a new car, I use it as a means of transportation (to get to work and such), so having a “fancy new” car is really not needed. I have already asked, when do we push them off a cliff (my CAR remembers), but let’s revisit this decision a bit further.

In my case, there are different parts to this decision:

Hank's Car ?
No Not This Old Beater Easy to Decide When I Gave This one Away
  • Is the car on its “last legs”? I don’t think so, seems to be running fine for what I need it, I wouldn’t drive it across Canada, but it might make it.
  • Do I need a replacement car? Not really, that is the hard part of the decision. In the next little while I will have to decide (or will have decided for me), whether I want to go back to taking the bus to work, in which case I may not need a 2nd car.
  • Can I afford the repairs? I can “afford” it, however, it will mean some sacrifice on our part (yet again).
  • Can this repair wait? Unfortunately when your car sounds like a Sherman Tank and it makes rattling noises that make a Diamondback green with envy, so that did not play into this decision.

What other interesting decision points might be needed for this conundrum?

Feel Free to Comment

  1. As the owner of a 14-year-old car, I think about the costs to keep it running vs. the costs of getting a new(er) car and the expenses incurred by not having one at all.

    I think the operating monthly costs on my old car are about $175 per month (gas, insurance, maintenance). I would be hard pressed to get another car for the same operating costs.


  2. Interesting decision point I would consider: Whether I could find a reasonably priced used car that was far more fuel efficient than the one I was getting rid of. Ideas about long-term savings could offset my feelings of whether I could “afford it”.

  3. How clear is it what needs to be repaired? Problems that require multiple visits to diagnose and multiple tries to fix might make it better to get rid of the car.

    Can I do the repairs myself or do I have a friend who would do them in return for me doing something for them?

    What’s the cost difference between insuring this car and the one I would be buying to replace it?

  4. Think about how much time the car saves you instead of taking the bus or in idle time waiting on another car or taxi. Take your hourly rate and calculate a dollar value for the overall time save. Include a fudge factor for conveinience (happiness) value that you get from the car.

    You now have a dollar value that represents the positive contribution of the car. Compare this against the actual cost of the car or the cost of its replacement.

    If the convenience value is less than the current or replacement cost then ditch the car or rework the numbers until you are happy.

    Either way you will have a hard number to compare that should make the decision easier.

    In my case, we are at the point where we should be going from two cars to one as they approach the end of their useful life. This is aggravated by the fact that one car sits idle all summer and I could probably make the case for getting rid of it and taking taxis where I need to go, including golf….

    great post.


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