Decisions, Decisions

We need help making a decision about whether or not to keep one of our cars. My husband has a 2001 BMW 330i with about 80,000 miles. He is the original owner and I have only driven the car about 5 times so that tells you how particular he is about this car. It has had some engine work, mostly due to age and not to major issues. Right now it needs to have the belts replaced so probably about $1000 worth of work (every time we take it for repairs it’s about $1000). It’s never been in an accident and is in incredible condition inside and out for the age of the car, but it does need the headliner repaired and some minor upholstery work where a seam is coming apart in the leather.

We also have a 2012 Kia Forte that we lease for our kids to drive. The lease on the Forte is us up in October and we have the option of purchasing the car for about $11,000 which is less than retail. It has less than 7500 miles and is also in great shape. Here’s the dilemma - my husband is going to buy a new car. Do we turn in the Kia and buy out the lease so the kids will drive the BMW or do we sell/trade in a the BMW and keep the Kia? We keep going round and round about this and can’t come up with a good solution. The BMW is worth so little despite the low mileage and great condition that it hardly seems worth it to get rid of it but obviously the older it gets the more money we will have to put into it. Any thoughts?

When the kids drive it, who will pay for the maintenance on the BMW? As you said, it’s going to get more expensive as it ages. Highschool kids can’t generally afford upkeep on a BMW of any age, much less an old one.

My rule of thumb is to keep driving an older car until the average monthly maintenance cost gets close to the cost of monthly payments on a new car.

Since the question is about what car the kids will drive, I assume that (a) the kids are already in their teens and (b) in a few years they will fly the coop.

In that case, I wouldn’t spend $11k on a car for them. I’d let them drive the BMW. It’ll last them several years and perhaps one of them will take it off to college. Yes, it’ll cost a few grand to keep it running, but it’ll still be a lot less expensive than buying out the Kia lease.

This assumes of course that you will be paying to maintain the BMW while they are driving it. But if you’re expecting them to pay for maintenance, they probably can’t afford it.

Once the BMW has gone off to college, then you can buy yourself whatever new car you really want.

Kids driving a BMW…all I hear are alarm bells…

Drop the BMW off at a reputable upholstery shop. Have them do up a new headliner. Only have them fix that seam if the price is cheap

Then sell it

The more miles you rack up, the more likely it will require a major cash infusion

It’s only a 330, not an especially sporty BMW. My 88 yo MIL has one of similar age that has been quite reliable. There are various guides and sites rating the reluability of used cars. Some of them go back that far. The most famous is the book form Consumer Reports Guide, but there are others. I believe that generation of 3-series has a generally good reputation for reliability. Maintenance, as you know, is expensive and constant. There is nothing terribly wrong with an $11,000 Kia Forte. It’s a fairly reliable car and very practical, but paying less and getting the BMW appeals more to me. It’s a lot cheaper now but maintenance will contnue to be expensive and needed repairs will increase. Your kids may be left stranded more by the BMW than the Kia. A Kia Forte is a good way of ensuring sane driving. It’s not a car that encourages any other kind. It should give several more years of hassle-free driving and is a great car to take to college. I think you end up with a decent car either way, and the costs may be similar.

I would keep the BMW and find a good independent. Mechanic. I have had excellent luck with my BMW, a friend of mine has a 2004 325 they bought for their daughter and it just hit 200k. My sister in laws 535 xi just hit 119k. Find a good mechanic .