How do I know it’s time to stop throwing money into my old car?

How do I know it’s time to stop throwing money into my old car?

Everyone has a different idea about whether to buy new or used, keep it or trade it, love it or hate it. Our customers come from all different places in life, and all have different opinions.

One friend likes to lease cars, then trade it in every three years for the latest model. Sometimes he even gets three years of “free” oil changes and inspections, so I only see him when he’s buying gas at Schummer’s of Mayfair. Another friend likes to buy new cars, keep them until the 90,000-mile factory maintenance, and trade them in for a generous trade-in allowance. Nick personally plans on being buried in their 1987 Toyota Pickup.

Now, if you’re still reading, you’re probably part of the 98% of Philadelphians who buy used cars. Maybe you were even given one by your parents, a sibling, or some other questionable ‘benefactor.’  You drive it, maintain it, and fix it; you seem to put an endless amount of money into it, and the air conditioning still doesn’t work. Eventually, it seems like you say a prayer every time you turn the key, and you start to think… is now the time?

And then you get some estimates for repairs, and you really start to wonder. Is it a good decision to put $1,000 into new tires or struts, or should I start looking for a new car? 

The short answer: Let Schummer’s Auto Center take care of all your inspection, maintenance, and repair needs. When we know how much money you spent, and what you spent it on, we can give an informed and professional opinion of what will actually cost you less.

Nothing can crush this truck!

The long answer: calculate the real cost of ownership will be then compare. Want to know more? Read on!

New cars cost more money to buy, more money to finance, and more money to insure; they also have minimal maintenance costs. Older cars can cost a whole lot more to maintain, but can be cheap or free. What you actually want to look at is cost-per-year coming up. That’s some middle-school-level math, so get your calculators ready.

Step one: determine what work will need to be done over the next year. We usually start with a thorough road test and some research. We figure out what it needs today, and then estimate what it might need in the next 5,000 – 10,000 miles based on that road test and factory recommended maintenance. We also do a quick search for typical issues for your make and model. We take that information, add it all up, and figure out about how much it will cost to own a car for a year.

With that number in mind, we can compare it other options. Is it more or less than the amount you’ll spend on another car? Sometimes, it does make more sense to put $1,000 into that old clunker and get another 10,000 miles out, especially if Plan B is to buy your friend’s car that needs $500 in work, and probably won’t last 10,000 miles. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to spend $5,000 on a car that is going to need even more work next year. Head spinning yet? You get the idea. It’s different for each person’s vehicle and financial situation.  

Of course, there are some cars that transcend mathematics. Like the vanagon. Like the pickup. Like any car you can’t bear to part with, whether it’s because the seat has been perfectly worn to fit your buttocks or you really love your 80’s bumper stickers.

In the end, the decision is up to you, but every bit of information helps in the decision making process. Ask us and we’ll give you an informed opinion. And if you need a shoulder to cry on, we’ll be there. 

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10 COMMENTS

  • Donna-Marie gazdziak
    July 19, 2016, 11:34 pm REPLY

    When are you opening an Illinois location?

    • admin@Donna-Marie gazdziak
      July 20, 2016, 1:10 am REPLY

      Maybe 2017? I do love Dad’s home made deep dish pizza and like to base our shop locations around the best pizza around (Santucci’s in Mayfair and Tacconelli’s in Kensington / Port Richmond. So where is the best Pizza in Illinois?

  • Brendan Shelton
    August 9, 2019, 12:52 pm REPLY

    I like that you talked about the fact that older cars do in fact cost a lot more to maintain than new cars. My mom is driving around in a very old vehicle that she keeps running but it’s getting to the point now where the amount of each repair is getting so high that she could just save that money for a down payment on a much newer used car. I will certainly show this information to her as she decides what to do with her old junker car.

  • Brendan Shelton
    August 9, 2019, 12:52 pm REPLY

    I like that you talked about the fact that older cars do in fact cost a lot more to maintain than new cars. My mom is driving around in a very old vehicle that she keeps running but it’s getting to the point now where the amount of each repair is getting so high that she could just save that money for a down payment on a much newer used car. I will certainly show this information to her as she decides what to do with her old junker car.

  • Brendan Shelton
    August 9, 2019, 12:52 pm REPLY

    I like that you talked about the fact that older cars do in fact cost a lot more to maintain than new cars. My mom is driving around in a very old vehicle that she keeps running but it’s getting to the point now where the amount of each repair is getting so high that she could just save that money for a down payment on a much newer used car. I will certainly show this information to her as she decides what to do with her old junker car.

  • Trevor Hall
    October 21, 2019, 4:40 pm REPLY

    My son is looking for his first car now that he has his own license and can legally drive. He is using our old car but he has some serious problems and needs repairs. I think it’s great that you talked about possibly putting thousands of dollars into an old car that will need more repairs in just a year or two, or just putting that money towards a better vehicle that will last.

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