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Get a new car or not?

I have a 2003 Mazda Protege 5 and I just spent $700 on brakes and my 90,000 mile check up. Is it time for me to consider replacing this car or not? There’s a little rust and a few dings, but otherwise things work fine. I’ve heard the 100,000 mile mark really affects trade in value- is this true? Any pros or cons you could give me would be much appreciated!

As long as the undercarriage isn’t severely rusted to affect the safety of the vehicle, keep driving it. With a little rust and a few dings, going past 100,000 miles won’t affect the trade-in value. In fact, I would bet that if you are going for a new car, the price would be the same whether you trade in your Mazda or not.

A bit over 100K or under 100K won’t do much to your cars value. If you can afford a new car, now might be as good a time as any to go car shopping. If you keep your car you have to figure for higher repair bills and more maintenance expenses in the coming years than you have spent to get to this point. These higher repair expenses can be annoying but compared to a monthly car payment to a bank you might still save money keeping the old car compared to getting a new one.

If you are wondering if its the right time, it is probably the right time. Not necessarily because it wouldn’t be cheaper per month to keep it, but why put up with it? Another couple years though and it really will be worth very little so it you think you would want to buy in the next 2-4 years, might as well do it now. “A little rust” is a trouble sign and can spread fast depending on where it is.

The expenses you mentioned are maintenance and not repairs, assuming “brakes” means new pads, rortrs, and a fluid change. You will eventually have similar brake expenses on the new car, too. If you still like the car, continue to drive it. If 8 years is long enough, then get a new one. Don’t rationalize the decision because of maintenance expenses.

I budget $1,000 per year for maintenance/repair on each of my cars. Some years I’m lucky and it doesn’t cost that much. Other years it costs more, but that’s what it takes to keep cars running properly.

I don’t think your P5 is anywhere near the end of its life, but it’s really your call.

Please take some time and do the math. You’re upset at a $700 repair bill.

What’s a monthly car payment? Multiply that by 12.

It’s almost always less expensive to maintain a car than to replace a car. My '97 Acura now has ~105K miles, and I intend to drive it for quite a few more years. I gave up worrying about trade in value years ago.

Don’t rationalize the decision because of maintenance expenses.

Try telling that to the people who find out they need to replace the timing belt on their vehicle and balk at the cost needed to replace it.

100k miles was the way of thinking 30 or 40 years ago, just like people still think a(n old) Volvo is the safest car available.

“Try telling that to the people who find out they need to replace the timing belt on their vehicle and balk at the cost needed to replace it.”

They can pay for it as maintenance or pay for it in a lower trade value.

bscar is right. This is not a rational decision, it’s a rationalized decision. If you want a new car, then you want a new car. A 2003 Mazda Protege 5 is a good machine and should go for quite a while more, unless it has rust in structural places. On the other hand there are lots of very good new cars with much more sophisticated safety components and far better environmental functions. And they smell good, too. So it’s not a simple choice. In addition, it’s kind of a buyer’s market, and car loan interest rates are very low. So, the bottom line, MsD, is that you won’t get clear direction from here, except that a lot of us are mechanically inclined cheapskates, so we’ll tell you to keep the old car until Barack’s daughters are running for the Senate.

Assuming there are no other problems, financially you’re better off keeping this one for a while. However, if better reliability would make you more comfortable or if you just want a new car, then that’s your call.

@wentwest you hit the nail on the head for my situation, for more than just a car too; bought a new fridge and washer that way too.
My old Civic could have lasted me several more years, and it will probably serve my neighbors for that long. But, I wanted to sit up higher, more ground clearance, more cargo room, and still have a bit of fun while driving. I don’t know how many people remember me asking various questions about certain vehicles and whatnot, but it took me 2 or 3 years of fully looking for a new vehicle before I decided to buy. I’m also glad my old car was able to hold together while I was looking.

People told me that I shouldn’t pay as much as I did for a car, or that I should have bought “American”. I promptly told them that it was my money, and if they wanted me to drive American, they were more than welcome to buy it for me, but I wasn’t going to pay for it. That usually squashed most arguments right there.