New Car or Keep Fixing Current Car



I have a 1995 Buick Regal, 3.8 L Custom with 125,000 miles. I looked back this past year and have spent about 250 dollars in repairs that I have done myself. I have had the car for about 3 years and am not certain of the maintenance done before that, but since then I have done all of it according to the manual and more. Currently I need to replace my struts which looks to be about 200 dollars, and some work on the my breaks ~100. This isn’t to bad and I like fixing cars. Anyways, I was wondering over the course of the next ten years, if this past year is an indicator, I will be spending probably 3000-4000 dollars in repairs. First questions is if anyone thinks this is an accurate estimate? Second question would it be more cost effective to sell my current car (~1000 dollars) and buy a used car of a newer year for ~4000 dollars? I would pay cash so payments and interest would not be in the equation. Thanks!


I always budget $1,000 - $1,200 per year, per car, for auto maintenance and repair. If I spend less, which is usually the case, I’m happy. If I spend more, oh well, bad year.

There is no way to accurately guess how much a car will cost in a given year, but whether you use your numbers or mine, it’s still almost always less expensive to repair a car than to replace one.

You’re talking about spending ~ $4,000 over ten years vs spending $4,000 all at once. It’s not the same thing.

If you spend $4,000 for a used car you’ll still have to spend $XXX per year on repairs and maintenance, which will be over and above the four grand for the car.

You need to recalculate.


Selling yours for $1,000 and buying a different one for $4,000 would be a mistake. You know your car, but you’d know nothing about the next one. You don’t get a trouble free car for $4,000, or one with less miles.

Depending on how many miles you drive, it’ll probably cost more to keep your car going, but it’ll be just as cheap as a different $4,000 car. Even if you can do your own maintenance and some repairs, plan on $500 or more per year (some years more, some less.) This is about as cheap as you’re going to get from a 15 year old car with over 100,000 miles.

See how long you can keep this car going. If it dies, replace it with another one for $1,000.


There are repairs, and there are parts that wear with use that need replacing. To me they are not the same. You are talking about struts and brake work on a '95 car with 125K miles. Nothing unusual about the car needing this kind of work. If you sell it and buy another used car it will need brake work and struts, and tires, etc.

Now when your '95 blows a head gasket, has a failed transmission, or needs a new differential; these are “repairs” in my mind and may or may not be worth to money to fix. That’s when you have to decide on another car or fixing the current one.

Remember, you’ll always know more about the car you have than the used car you’ll buy. Any used car will need some repairs and parts replaced too.

As far as your estimate of spending $3,000 to 4,000 over 10 years on car maintanence and repairs; that sounds about right for a newer car. As a car gets older the repairs become more frequent and more expensive. A radiator will likely last 10 years, but very likely fail and need replacing sometime between year 10 and 20 of a car’s life. Since your '95 is now over 15 years old you have to expect some expensive items to fail. Radiators, steering racks, CV joints, brake lines, AC compressors, are not going to last forever. As long as the body isn’t rusted out, the motor is solid, and the transmission operates normally most repairs are probably worth the money to keep the car going.