Would you keep this car or trade it in?

My husband and I have two aging cars. One is a 2001 VW golf with about 118,000 miles… he has had no mechanical issues with this car. The car runs well and has served us well… but I do get nervous because i have never had a car with this many miles before. I keep thinking it must be ready to croak anytime now!

I have a 2002 mazda protege with about 85,000 miles. We are considering trading in the golf for a new or used car with low miles… maybe a subaru outback or a small SUV perhaps.

I actually enjoy driving his golf better than my own car and it feels more solid to me than the mazda (despite the fact that it has a lot more miles!). I am hesitant to get rid of it…especially because I don’t think a dealer is going to give us much for it.

We have a 10 month old and feel we need something bigger and have been looking around, the problem is…

I am a stay at home mom and don’t feel comfortable going into debt with a car payment in this scary economy, especially with us being on one income right now. Both our cars are paid off which is a great feeling… Also someone dented/scratched his door a few years ago pulling out of a parking spot (at work no less!) and we never bothered to fix it because we didn’t know who did it and we would have had to pay a 500 dollar deductible. It is pretty noticeable and has a little rust now. It’s not huge, but it is obvious. I am afraid the dealership will really hammer us with a trade for this.

Yes, the cars are small, but I like the idea of riding out not having a car payment for as long as we can. At the same time I would love to have a newer, roomier car. haha. In the end I think I would prefer to not have to worry about a car payment more than the temporary enjoyment of having a new car. My husband, on the other hand, would definitely prefer we get something now and not wait much longer.

I drive the Mazda because it has less miles. My husband drives the golf everyday to work. He wants to get rid of the golf because he feels it is going to need some serious money put into it very soon. It will need new tires, new brakes and some other stuff. He thinks it is running louder lately as well…He thinks it will need at least 700 dollars or more in work… could be a grand or so… so he would rather buy something new rather than put the money in. If we buy something else, he will take my mazda and I will get the new car.

Our fear is that since it has 118,000 miles… who knows how much longer it will go???

I am feeling like we should wait and see, because who knows… maybe he could get 200k out of that car and then we would really get our money’s worth. As long as it didn’t need tons of money thrown into it along the way.

What do people think about the long term prospects of these cars? Right now neither one of us have had any problems with our cars. Have you seen a lot of VW golfs go 200k miles? What about protege’s?

I love how new cars don’t need much other than minor maintenance the first few years.

Thanks for your help and advice!!!

The real essence of the question as I see it is.

  1. I think I need a bigger newer car for safety and reliability.
    the most important factor is the car seat in baby safety.
  2. I wonder if it is better to invest in depreciation than maintenance and repairs.
    Sure you could get something newer and roomier and you might be happier paying x$ per month vs x$ for repairs and maintenance needed.

There is not a global answer to your question and you need to decide what you are most comfortable with.

Being a tightwad I might keep both cars, not be afraid of driving either one and each month you don’t have a car repair put the 2 or 3 hundred a month you would be paying for a new car towards future repairs. Yes you will have repairs in your future, but who knows when or how much it will cost. New car no repairs in your near future, but you will know the cost. You have tires, brakes, fluid flush timing belt as prescribed by the manual if applicable. If what you think you will spend on maintenance will be close to the cost or an affordable luxury go for new. Sorry I cannot make your decision for you, just illuminate the options.

Thanks for your response… and my apologies for being wordy in my post :slight_smile: Yes, we want new for safety/reliability reasons… as well as needing more room.

The idea of putting money aside every month we don’t have repairs is a good one… and this would allow my husband and I to get a real feel for what that extra monthly payment might feel like in the future. I think we should do that for a few months and then decide. Also maybe it is better to just keep both regardless of whether we buy another, since we might not get much for the golf. Only problem there is that I don’t want to pay to insure 3 cars. We could also try and sell the golf privately. Maybe we would get more money that way.

As far as reliability goes though for our existing cars… is it extremely unlikely that we would get much more time left in these cars with minimal repairs needed (based on age and mileage)?


What you have listed as needed “repairs” on the Golf are just regular upkeep stuff. If the cars are well maintained they should run more than 200KM. Now they could crap out any day but that could happen to a newer car too. So technically you should be throwing away cars at a very young age. Financially it is best to keep what you have got and maintain them. Both cars should be safe for their size, esp if driven defensively. Now if space is an issue or you want to justify a new car… well go ahead and buy one.

I recently sold my Dodge Dakota mainly because the Air Conditioning was broken and it would have cost what the truck was worth to fix it.

It was a 1998 and I had driven it 623,000 miles. Original engine and transmission.

That should be evidence that if you take proper care, your vehicle will run dependably far beyond 110,000 miles.

If you shop you can get some super deals on used and even brand-new cars.

You need to compare the cost of maintenance on what you have to endless monthly payments.

And, remember, there is a very good chance your tax picture will change.
Bet that’s the first time anyone told you to think of that when buying a car.

“We have a 10 month old and feel we need something bigger . . .”

From what I have observed, the more room you have in a vehicle, the more you will be inclined to take with you. When our grand daughter was an infant, my son had an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme sedan. When they would make the trip to see us, I don’t know how they got into the car with all the things they would bring along. On one trip, the car wouldn’t start when he was ready to leave, so my son borrowed the 15 passenger E-350 van from the church where he worked to make the 375 mile trip He had this van completely loaded with things he and his wife thought they should bring along. I can almost guarantee that the roomier the vehicle, the more things you will load in for your child. When my son was an infant, we were able to travel with everything we thought we needed in a Ford Maverick. I know other couples of our time period would travel with young families in a VW Beetle.

Your cars are at the age where you may want to drop the collision insurance if you haven’t already done so. Seven hundred dollars is not a lot of money for maintenance. I think that the savings in insurance, depreciation, etc. over a new car would be substantial.

Any car today can go 200,000 miles. It does mean you keep up with all the basic maintenance as listed in the owner’s manual. I have seen VW Golfs at over 300,000 miles. It is a matter of luck and maintenance.

I might add that it is almost always cheaper to maintain a car than to buy a new car.

I vote to keep the old cars going. Easy to say, but to execute you need a plan.

Go online and look at a car you might buy new. The calculate the monthly payment. I’ll estimate $500 a month. Take the payment money and start a separate bank account to deposit $500 into each month. If you can’t make the deposit every month then you couldn’t have afforded the new car. With the $500 accumulating you’ll have the money to repair and refurbish both cars.

Both cars can go way over 110K miles and easily go 200K and more. To do so they will need more money spent on repairs as they get older and go the additional miles. The money you listed on the Golf is just the stuff that naturally wears out as you drive, tires, brakes, etc.

In 6 months you’ll have $3,000 in your “car account”. You can use that money on cars only. If you’ve spent $700 on the Golf then you’ll have $2,300 in the account. If you think you are going to keep your cars then you can spend some money on the Golf body damage. A dinged up car will always make you wonder about fixing it. If you like the way the Gulf looks you’ll spend the money for regular maintenance. Skimping on regular maintenance is the reason cars die early deaths. If you keep your cars in 5 years you’d have put $30K in your car account. If you actually spent $10K of it on keeping the old cars going you’ll have $20K for a new car.

In 5 years your 10 month old is 6 and you have one or perhaps 2 more kids? Then you are going to need a bigger car for the extra room. Keep one of the 2 smaller cars depending on which has the most life left in it and now you have a new car, an old car and -0- payments. Keep the $500 a month deposit going and now take some of the money for the college fund and some for cars and there you have it.

to kinda expand on what uncleturbo said, start shopping now, but let them know you won’t buy today, you’re just out testing what fits you and your husband. Start saving, and when you find it’s time to let one of the vehicles go, use the money for a down payment or buy it outright