Whats your Car Repair Cut off Point?

car repair

Whats your Car Repair Cut off Point?

Do you drive a older car that is getting to that point where you need to decide to do the car repair or replace? I do! Actually we drive 2 older cars. A 2006 honda civic and a 2005 Ford Escape. Both have been great cars for us but are getting up there in clicks. The escape has 240,000 km on it while the civic is rocking a hard 330,000k.

The civic has been an absolutely amazing car! They hold up to their reputation. Our only major car repair was replacing a oil pan on human error when she drove over a big log…….. haha. Civics aren’t off road vehicles, don’t do that! Other than that we have the routine oil changes and have flushed the air conditioner. Her civic is still going strong and I believe in driving cars into the ground so wont be switching this up until a major repair. Once we need to buy a new car there is no question though, it will be another civic.

My Ford Escape has some issues though. Its got a minor cracked windshield (at bottom where windshield wipers sit). There is a cracked exhaust pipe somewhere under the hood that needs to be welded for about 150 bucks and some minor rust spots. The cracked glass doesn’t bug me at all, but would need to get fixed next year before certification. (Approx $300) I was planning on fixing this minor crack in the exhaust when I had to get my emissions test done before the middle of next month. Now its the great debate though.

The Dreaded Check Engine Light

About a month ago I was driving down the highway and my car just died, luckily right at a service station so I just pulled right in. I thought a belt broke but once I popped the hood and restarted the car, everything was fine. It was almost minus 40 out and I was at a quarter tank. I filled it up and drove home. No check engine light or anything.

2 weeks later the car check engine light came on and mechanic said it was something with fuel injector, he suggested just resetting it and see if it comes back. A week ago the light came on but I drove it all over the place and it ran great. Tuesday it was really weird, while leaving our neighborhood the engine power kept throttling and shutting off. I got it home and called the mechanic. He suggested it might need a tuneup but hes booked until next Tuesday.

Whats Your Number?

As I stated earlier I believe in just driving cars into the ground, but I think the value of my suv is about $2,000. If the car repair costs $1,000 bucks to get the tuneup, weld that exhaust pipe and pass the emission test is it worth it? This is always the crazy question, say I fix this and 2 months later something else pops up for a couple hundred. I’m pretty close to the total value of my car, especially when you consider we could get like 300$ scrap value for the car. I guess its a waiting game until next week to see what the mechanic says, but we have started window shopping for a new suv.

Well Not New

Ok wait… not a new car, a new to us car! I’m sure you have read it a million times now, a car loses a tonne of its value once it leaves that dealer parking lot. That new car smell? Ahhhh it ain’t for me. Ill throw one of those pine tree air freshener’s on the mirror and save myself 10,000 bucks! I want a car with some minor scratches, a little dirt on the floorboards and a broken in engine. Let someone else lose all that money the first couple years.

I was chilling with some neighbor’s last night watching the leafs win another game and they were shocked to hear I wouldn’t buy a new car. Its funny in our neighborhood everyone has nice cars to go with the nice houses, while our driveway has those 2 “old” cars. Oh a new car is better if your going to keep it a long time, those finance rates are great now etc etc.. Its hard to tell people, we buy our cars with cash and a couple years old to get good value.

car repair

Budget and Needs Vs Wants

My wife is totally against a van but she wants something bigger than a escape. We go away camping a couple times a year and the escape was always packed with our stuff, our son, the dog and the 2 kayaks on the roof. She says its not doable with our daughter now. No debating that, maybe we will stack everything on the roof like this car.

I set a budget of $10,000 max. Normally I like to buy around 8k but financially we are getting better so why not. We have about 5k cash now and I will either sell some precious metals or stocks to cover the difference. Some dealers even offer 0% financing, if we end up buying from them I’ll consider this. Its harder to barter when you don’t have the money though! A quick flash of 10,000 cash can surely make the sale go a little “smoother”

Is Bigger Really Better?

Its the classic debate. Is bigger really better? Being a average guy I say no! As long as it gets you to that point right? She likes the gmc acadia. Its a 7-8 person suv but its also a gas guzzler. Its average fuel would cost $1000 more a year than the escape. I cant justify that for the occasional trip we take. We could always take 2 cars if need be, most trips are 1-3 hrs away. I don’t need a monster suv just for me to go back and forth to work. Luckily the acadia seems to get a lot of costly repairs too. One thing I mentioned while looking at them, the engine under the hood is packed so it would be hard for repairs. For 10k we could get a 2010 or 2011 with around 160,000km on it.

There is no escape….. I keep going back to the ford escape, while it isn’t a bigger vehicle the fuel economy has actually gotten better than my current year. It is big enough for what we need, other than big trips. We have talked about getting a popup trailer some day for camping and this would fix the storage issue in the future.

Plum Crazy Purple

For 8-10k we could get a lot more value. There is a tonne of escapes out there. We have seen 2010’s with 60,000 km on them all the way to 2013’s (the new body style) with about 140,000 km. I’m really not picky and will leave the pick somewhat in her hands. She will most likely get this for taking the kids around and I’ll downgrade to civic nation. Color is the one thing we are picky on, I don’t want no plum crazy purple or brown/ gold car colors. Bluetooth or Aux in would be nice for listening to podcasts as well! Of course the car has to be good mechanically.

The bonus of buying another escape is I already got some sweet winters on rim’s which could most likely be used on the new escape.


We got to watch though, buying cars is definitely a emotional process. Heck we are already shopping around and my car could be a simple fix! The key is setting a budget and sticking to it or even better going under it. I have bought 2 cars in my lifetime, the first we financed 2 years old and the escape I bought 4 years old with cash. I bought this stupid warranty thing at the time which was a huge waste of money and I wont be doing that again. You learn, Dave Ramsey calls it Stupid Tax!

I know from when I bought the escape cash really does get the better deal but the dealership makes less as they aren’t financing it and will try to up sell everything at closing. I didn’t flash the cash and really think the sales guy thought I was just talking shit and wouldn’t buy it cash. I’m curious have any of you showed a stack of cash while bartering to get a better deal? I’m really debating doing it.

Clearly buying a new car would set us back a bit in my finance goals for this year, shit happens though. Its at that fine line to keep it or scrap it.

What would you do? Would you fork out another 1000 to keep it going or just scrap it and buy something newer? Got any tips for the sales process? Would you buy the newer car with more kilometers or get the older model with lower clicks.

I’ll keep you posted


18 Responses

  1. NZ Muse says:

    We are a one car household so a reliable car is a must have We went with newer car, higher ks (an approx 3yo ex lease at the time with just over 100,000km).

    • Rob says:

      Hey nz welcome.

      Love seeing new faces..

      Yeah theres nothing worse than a non reliable car. 100k to 140k is what we are really looking into as well.
      Thanks for stopping by

  2. Good post Rob. I’m like you and like to drive a car into the ground. It’s just emotionally easier having an older car for me. I don’t care if it gets a ding or scratch even though I try to keep it in good shape. My wife and I have about 21+ years into are 2 cars combined so we are starting to get close to the tipping point. Tom

    • Rob says:

      Hey Tom

      At first I read that and was like wow maybe i need to drive ours for longer. Then i realize ours are 25 yrs combined! Dam! Makes em feel alot older.
      Definitely not caring about scratches and dings is huge. I just throw the kayak on the roof if it was new, wow it would be a different process.


  3. PCI –

    I always break it down in how many months to get further out of it, without putting yourself or others at harm. So if it’s $1,500 – that may be okay, if that’s the only thing and provides solid assurance for an extra 12+ months out of it. Thoughts on that?


    • Rob says:

      Hey Lanny

      Thats true but how can you guess a solid timeline? I think 1000 is my threshold but if its 1200 to get it running good. Who knows. Lol

      1200 for another year of solid running for sure id pay that.

  4. p2035 says:

    Hi there. I have a 2003 renault laguna with milege of 230 k. Well for past few years it become a bag of problems but fixes dont cost that much 300-400€ (its still cheap in our countriea). We were thinking about new car as well well but I think I will go with renault for few more years 🙂 what I understood is that I will buy a basic basic pack next time because the more gadget in it the more they broke in the future 🙂 for ex. my air conditioning is broken for like 3y now. It will cost me 500€ to fix but im very fine without it. Real need for contion is just for 2-3 summer months.

    • Rob says:

      Hey p.

      Wow nice your definately are getting your use out of that car. 200-300 for a repair would be great, just seems the amount of repairs is adding up now.

      We will see what the mechanic says tuesday. Its true all these high tech things create problems. I really want to avoid tire sensors, seems so dumb to me.


  5. dividendgeek says:

    Hard to say. If its more than the value of my car its a no-brainer. Problem is if its a small expense we never know what the next one is going to be (they keep accumulating). I drive a 2003 Toyota Camry, its an excellent car. With a child reliability would be important. I would probably switch my car after reach 80,000 miles. I never buy new cars 🙂

    • Rob says:

      Hey geek

      True if transmission or engine gos. Boom its gone! I really dont know what 80000 miles is to km. For sure kids in the car are a factor for reliability.

      Cheers man!

  6. Similar to Lanny said, I will try to estimate how many extra months I can get out of the car versus a new car payment. You’re right ,you can’t estimate it. But I would see how many potential months of $250/month car payments I would save . I would start to be concerned if that amount great to over a year, but it has been a long time since I’ve been in that situation. I hate to say it, but it really, really just depends on the repair, car, etc.

    I had always used to buy new. Then, this time around, my wife bought a certified used Rav4 that saved $7k-$8k on a new car. The best part was that the 2014 model was essentially the same as the 2017 model. But now, I’m always buying used for the savings! I don’t know what to tell you between the GMC or the Ford. I think it will just come down to whatever is best for your family and it sounds like you are going to make the right call. Best of luck deciding


    • Rob says:

      Hey Bert great points.

      My parents got a rav 4 nice car.

      I would buy the car outright so no monthly payments. Although that money would be invested so the loss of dividends i guess would be factored in. I never buy new cars rather new to me cars =)
      My wife would like a newer vehicle while im on the side of repairing if the price is right.
      Find out Tuesday!
      Cheers rob.

  7. May says:

    We bought two old cars and then two new cars. We are driving a 2001 civic and a 2009 rav4 now. We are driving the car to death type too. LOL. I asked my dh many times already if he wants to buy a new car and he thinks the civic is still good to drive. Next car we want to buy a electronic one as both of us cummuting long way. I think it might be a good idea to wait for better electronic cars to come out. I like rav4. It’s very reliable and good size for camping.

    • Rob says:

      Hey May

      My parents have a rav4 they seem pretty good. Dont know if its as big as a escape though. As for electric I think it will be better to wait a couple years the cost of batteries is insane at the moment. I was looking at a lithium riding mower (for business) guy said the machine costs as much as the battery currently…. if you can afford it why not? Going green is always good!

      Nice work on that civic. How many km is on it?

  8. Leo T. Ly says:

    I bought my 2015 Honda Odyssey with a friend of mine. We got a pretty great deal. I was not sure if it was the end of the month or paying cash or multiple vehicle. The sales guy was pretty accommodating and we were able to dictate the negotiations. At the end of the day, doing your homework before going to shop will help a lot.

    • Rob says:

      Hey Leo

      Odysseys are good vans. Interesting that you bring up the end of the month never even thought of that. The multiple vehicle buy was most likely a factor if he gets 2 sales vs 1.

      Ill take any tips i can get! Lol

  9. Steve says:

    Good article – I finally threw in the towel on my 2007 car – after the latest repair was going to be about 30-40% of the value of the car (power steering). Also it started to feel unreliable, less safe and the potential friction costs to other areas of life convinced me to buy a newer (but still used) car.

    I did fall for the extended warranty (guilty) since I may drive this for many years – should have read this first!

    • Rob says:

      Hey Steve

      Welcome, love seeing a new face!

      I got lucky it was just my fuel pump. I thought it would of been something serious. I got that and 2 minor things fixed for 500 bucks. It was worth fixing. The car is getting to that point though, but ill hold off as long as i can.

      Extended warranties are big money makers for the companies. I think last time i bought a dvd i even got offered a extended warranty incase it gets scratched.

      Congrats on the newer car, glad to hear you didnt buy brand new. Saved yourself thousands!


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