That old question: when is it time to unload a car?

I know the matrix: “When the cost of repairs exceeds either the book value or annual payments.”

But . . . do you guys (and lady gearheads) account for anticipated repairs . . . or, recommended repairs . . . ?

Get rid of it when you want to, that simple. We got rid of our Acura with 60K on it, just out of bumper to bumper warranty. I got rid of my Riviera at 530,000 miles, quite a few years out of warranty. I’d get rid of my G6 with 100K on it if I could find something like it, so no rules. If you don’t like it, find something you like, can’t depend on it, don’t mind spending money, its time to trade.

“But . . . do you guys (and lady gearheads) account for anticipated repairs . . . or, recommended repairs . . . ?”

If I could account for “anticipated” repairs then I could make a killing in the stock market. Unfortunately I can’t so it’s recommended repairs for me. If the recommended repair cost is too high…then the vehicle goes bye bye.

If you are tired of it and can afford a newer car, go for it.

I don’t do a cost analysis. I change when either my needs change a lot, or the vehicle is not reliable enough for me. That’s taken 10 -13 years for our various cars. Of course, if I had an 11 year old car with little value that needed an engine or transmission transplant, I’d be getting a replacement.

Most all of my vehicle changes were driven by lifestyle changes.

There is really no “magic formula”, and everyone has to decide for himself/herself when it is appropriate to dump a car. And, those decisions can sometimes turn out to be bad ones…

In my younger years, I got rid of a problem-free '71 Dodge Charger in 1974 because the price of gas had risen sharply, and because that Charger could only get a maximum of 16 mpg on long highway drives. I replaced it with a “more economical” '74 Volvo, but the Volvo’s fuel economy turned out to be only slightly better than that of the Charger. And, the Volvo–like most of the cars of that make–turned out to be a veritable money pit after just a couple of years. Ergo…a very bad decision to get rid of that Charger.

However, I held onto that POS Volvo for 7 years, simply because my finances at the time would not allow me to buy another new car to replace it. In those 7 years, I spent a veritable fortune on repairs, but because those costs only cropped up every 4 months or so, the repair costs were more manageable than coming up with the cash for a new car.

So…IMHO…much depends on somebody’s current financial status. At this point in my life, even though I tend to keep my cars for 8-10 years, and even though I usually incur no repair expenses as a result of diligent maintenance, I might simply replace a car because I have become bored with it, or because I want a new safety feature.

The OP should carefully evaluate what his personal “needs and wants” are, and should base his decisions on those factors.

For me it’s pretty simple. I like the cars I have, so I keep them.

Same here.

Tom and Ray addressed this very question in their 60 minutes interview they did in 1995. You can still view it on the 60 minutes website. Googling “Car Talk CBS 60 minutes”, should provide a link to the video.

What they said as I recall as basically: If you like your existing car, don’t worry about its market value; if you like it, keep it.

As other say, there is no magic age or mileage. If you can handle periodic repairs (and many panic with that) you keep it till the repair costs escalate to the point where it’s cheaper to get another car; you’ll know when that happens.

There is a strict accounting point dealing with total ownership costs, but many find that hard to calculate. If the car is used to commute to work, and being late for work is a no-no, you need to keep the vehicle till it becomes unreliable, then get rid of it.

Retired people can drive a car almost indefinitely as long as it is fixable at a nearby location.

We keep cars till they become unsightly or unsafe because of corrosion. We only ever got rid of one car for mechanical reasons (could no longer get parts).

Thanks, all for the comments - I have another thread in which I will post later, but the rub of it is this: I have a 2002 that I have owned for seven+ years (second owner). The only repairs I have put into it are a new starter this week and a $50 flex pipe patch three or four years ago. That’s it. The tie rod ends are frozen but I was told the only impact is that the steering wheel won’t center when I get an alignment. For $1,000, I can live with that. The mileage is great, the engine is quiet, it runs like a champ, and it’s boring. At this point, I think I am at the stage of “what do I get next” if at its age it starts encountering costly repairs.

“tie rod ends are frozen” - you’ve got me worried, I don’t know how the steering could work if they’re actually ‘frozen’. If they’re worn, get them replaced, they could fail, causing an accident.

when is it time to unload a car?

When it’s due for its 3rd, 20k mile oil change

Sorry couldn’t resist…

Steering feels fine; issue was spotted after an alignment when the wheel was off center; shop told me the ends are frozen, they applied some heat, couldn’t move them, and said the impact would be off-centered steering wheel. I had the same concern you had but perhaps I misunderstood their diagnosis - they were clear that there was no safety issue.

Oh, I think they meant the threads attaching the tie rods to the suspension are frozen, not the actual joint. In that case, if the tie rod joint is OK, I wouldn’t worry about it. But once the actual joint is worn, then I’d find a shop that could un-freeze the threads and replace the tie rod ends.

Thank you, Texases -