Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Fix it or buy a new used car?

i have a 92 bmw 325 si that was gifted to us. we have known for about 6 months that it really needs some serious work. the car has 179000 miles, mostly highway miles, always 93 octane gas and frequent oil changes. but we have now run into are some long standing problems that need addressing. Some of them are required to pass maine’s rigid inspection, others are needed for the safety and performance and reliability of the vehicle. My wife loves this car, but she could love another too. She drives it mostly. Some of the things it needs to add upto close to $3000 in repairs are $1400 in tie rods attention, power steering issues, front struts and mounts, new tires, and a new rear exhaust system. we have very little money to put into anything, we do not have good credit to get a small loan for a replacement vehicle. it seems like everyone is telling us not to spend the cash on the bimmer but to try and figure out someway to buy a good used car. Any thoughts out there? We are perplexed…

If you need money, don’t hesitate to call a family member who is willing to help. You may be surprised at the generosity you encounter. The parts for that car are expensive.

Most everything listed is not even really repair. It is all maintenance that is expected on a 17 year old car subjected to Maine’s terrible roads(winter).

A $3000 used car can have just as much lurking in it. I would be leary spending that little on a vehicle as it is the wild west. Spending $6000 gets you a decent car that is not fully worn out.

Why Not Prioritize All These Maintenance/Repair Items? Your Mechanic Can Help Do This.

As long as this car is not a rust bucket that exists purely because its termites are holding hands, fix it in stages instead of all at once. As Andrew pointed out, most of this is maintenance that was supposed to have been done in stages.

Take care of the most serious safety items first. Tie-rods for sure, pssibly a power steering issue, possibly tires, and possibly struts, would probably top the list. You don’t say what’s wrong with these items. You can even prioritize items within this stage so long as they don’t over-lap too much in labor, running up the cost. Do you need all four tires at once? I have nice used tires available near my house, not always a good idea, but maybe necessary at this point.

Exhaust leaks are not good, possibly dangerous, but you are apparently driving it like this. Can it wait? This is not an ideal situation, but what is the alternative?
You don’t have the money for all this stuff, can’t and probably shouldn’t take on a loan, and can’t afford car payments. At least this way, you control the spending, not some bank.

Any community college automotive classes nearby looking for cars to work on? They usually do not charge labor and are tech supervised. Do you have any skills or services to use as bartering material with a local independent mechanic? When I need “dealer only” parts, I ask for and get a 20% discount from dealers in my area. We have dealers crossing into each other’s territory and sales have become very competitive.

I agree with ‘common sense’. If you like the car; if it’s been a good car; not to mention it was a gift, so to “invest” $3000 in stages seems the way to go. Go with incremental repairs. I hope things work out for you!