New car (05 KIA RIO) or fix the old one (92 Mazda Protege) for a college student (me)?



my little protege that I have had for 8 years had problems with its transmission lately and a few days a go it failed on the highway. The engine was still running fine, no overheat warning, no check engine light, nothing of that nature. Just a bunch of smoke and what looked like some transmission fluid dripping down. I test drove an 05 Kia Rio but I don’t think it will work for me. If I buy a new car I have to drive to atleast 200,000 miles, and the Rio has 54,000 on it now. The dealer agreed to hold it for me and have it repaired since on its there was a whistiling noise from the engine. Turned otu to be a baffle in the exhaust, whatever that means. $7900 + more for an extended warranty is around $9500 Now my car that quit is a 92 mazda protege and has 260,000 miles on it. The engine thats in there now has about 100,000 miles on it, only 10,000 of which have been logged in my car. The transmission did fail once about 2 years ago, but as I recall only one part was rebuilt and replaced. EVerything else on the car is good. Starter, water pump, timing belt, plugs wires, distributor and rotor, etc… All have been maintained. I have also kept up on oil changes, and was preparing to put in a new radiator. The cost of the transmission rebuild will be around $2,000. Im asking as a college student who travels no less than 60 miles round trip each day, wich route is the better option. New KIA, or fix the transmission.


I think if you shop around with that price($9K+) you should be able to get a brand new Kia with the whole warranty. I think you should look into private sales of Kia/Hyundai, you will get a better deal. I am not sure I will sink 2K in an older car but that is sitting here at my computer. I normally like used cars in the range of 4-6K. Can also look into domestic cars (Taurus?).


The best deal money wise is almost always fixing what you have. Consider the cost of payments and they are certain and then the cost of repairs that you may not have at all (or could have on a new car) and the economic issue is easy to see.


i sorta agree with galant.

if you’re going to spend 9000 on a used kia, buy a new hyundae.

(are you good at gambling?)
or if you want to gamble on such a hustory, spend 2000 on the used mazda,

BUT knowing that you may be further repairing other issues as they come up.
although i know you want a new car i suspect the lump sum of money may be a more important factor in this equation. I know how it is to be a student, and $$ being hard to come by this is a tough decision.


Well, the short answer is that you can’t afford the new car unless you can write a check for it, so your choice is really between fixing your car and buying a buying a used car you can pay for. Decide if you can buy something better for the repair cost. In my experience, it’s almost always a better deal to fix your existing car.

If you really want, and can pay for, a newer car you should buy one.


I would also compare to a one to three year old Ford Focus, before making a decision, around only 30K miles on the odometer. The Rio sounds overpriced.

If the trans is the only issue, then spending 2K for a repair may work out. The miles you drive are not particularly hard on the trans or the vehicle, although I don’t quite understand why the trans has failed after only two years’ use. A relatively expensive trans overhaul should last longer than two years, normally. How many miles since last overhaul/repair?


The Kia you are looking at is not new. It’s used and certainly overpriced. A new Kia with zero miles on it can be had for about $11,000. And if there is a leftover 07 model on the lot you might even get it for $9,000 with a full warranty. Also, extended warranties on used cars are almost always a bad deal.

In truth, you should probably fix what you have, but if not I suggest you keep looking for a better deal on another car.