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Should I Replace This Audi?

I have a 2002 Audi A6 Avant 3.0 with 143K miles. I love driving this car, but it costs a lot to keep it running. Of immediate concern, I just spent almost $2K replacing a catalytic converter. This car has 3 catalytic converters, and I’ve had to replace the pre-catalysts 3 times! What’s gonna go next? I’m thinking it’s time to retire the old girl. Any thoughts?

European Luxury cars are going to have a higher cost per mile than a comparable Japanese or American made car, usually. I would just keep it for a while if its paid for and in good shape. If it costs you more cents per mile to keep an 8 year old that you enjoy, then so be it.

It’s that or take delivery on something new and start accumulating depreciation and finance expense. Is the trade-off worth it to you?

A 2002 Audi should not be a problem. While the total maintenance cost is likely higher than average, no matter how you have it done, I suspect you have been paying more than needed.

Where are you having it serviced? If you are going to the dealer, chances are you can save a great deal of money by taking it to a local INDEPENDENT mechanic. That means not a dealer, not a quick oil change place etc. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.

  Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Agree with Joseph that once you own the car, it is USUALLY cheaper to keep it running and drive it till it dies a natural death. In industry the costing is done by comparing the overall running costs, which are insurance, license, fuel, DEPRECIATION, maintenance and repairs.

In real life, industry also cranks in the cost of money and the out of service cost when the machine is laid up. That’s why trucking companies seldom completely wear out their vehicles. The whole excerecise is called “Life Cycle Costing” and there are a number of books published on this topic.

I would add the insurance, depreciation, maintenance and repair of a new car with what you currently have. A $20,000 car depreciates at least 50% in the first 4 years, so you spend $2500 per year on depreciation. The insurance will also be higher. And even new cars need some mainteance the first 4 years. Your present car is worth very little, so depreciation is small.

If you are thinking of replacing the Audi with a $30,000 car, you will have 1/2(30,000)/4= $3750 extra cost of ownership, so you can spend $3750 per year on repairs (excluding maintenance) to break even. If you feel the car will cost more than that per year for the next 4 years ($15,000 in repairs), dump it and buy a new one. But buy something else than an Audi so you won’t end up in the same fix again.

My sister is a cost accountant and she uses computer models to arrive at the best time to dump a car. The usual answer is that it is most economical to drive it until any single large repair job costs more than the car is worth. Somehow, most of us already knew this instinctively.

I would always replace an Audi with something else.