Repair or Replace Your Vehicle?

Repair or Replace Your Vehicle?

Last Updated February 5, 2020

Although you love your car, the time will come when it needs a repair. Let’s say you do your maintenance, and the shop tells you your brake pads need to be replaced. That’s around $400 out of your pocket. If your air conditioning suddenly stops working in July, a compressor costs roughly $600. A clutch assembly replacement is at least $1,500. A blown head gasket will set you back more than $2,000.

As you’re presented with these bills, you will be faced with a decision. Should you repair the car? Or should you replace it? Here’s how to make that decision.

[click the infographic below]

Repair or Replace Your Vehicle

Do the Math

The decision to replace or repair is, in some ways, very simple. Does it cost you more to repair the car than to replace it? If so, replace it. To spend more on a repair than the car is worth makes no financial sense.

You can get a read on what your car is worth from Edmunds or Kelly Blue Book. Just plug in your information and you’ll get a price based on your car’s condition. If it’s less than the repair, you have an answer. Sell the car second-hand or see if it can be sold for parts. You can use the proceeds as a down payment on the replacement.

If you are still making payments on the car, factor in your payments, using our infographic to help.

If the repair costs are less than the next 12 monthly payments, you should make the repair.

If they add up to more, you likely need to replace it.

Number of Repairs

In addition to sheer cost factors, think about how many repairs you’ve had in the last few months. If it’s your first major repair in six months, that’s about par for the course. Don’t let a major repair scare you away from a good car. They all need repairs to aging parts. Fuel pumps and worn brake pads are just part of owning a car.

If your repairs have been mounting over the past six months, though, think about replacing. A good rule of thumb is $5,800. Has your total car repair bill in the last six months been more than that? If so, think about replacing it. Once repairs of this magnitude start, they are likely to continue. You don’t want your car to be a rolling money pit.

Consumer Reports’ car reports are a good source for the typical repair frequency on various makes and models.


Needed repairs increase on even the best cars as the mileage gets high. More mileage means more wear and tear on the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the lifetime average of cars on the road is 152,137. That’s an average, of course, and your car may get more or less.

Repairs don’t start like clockwork the minute your odometer hits 152,137. Likely, though, the size and frequency of repairs will start to climb once you pass this mark. As the infographic shows, you should use the frequency and costs of your last six months of repairs plus the mileage to decide whether or repair or replace.


How safe do you feel driving your car? Have issues like fraying brake pads or a blown engine on the highway made you feel that the car isn’t safe to drive? If you or your loved ones don’t feel safe in the car, your decision is clear. Safety comes first: Replace the car.

When thinking through a decision to repair or replace, remember to factor in costs, the worth of the car, the number of repairs within the last six months, the current mileage and your feelings of safety. The decision will ultimately be clear.

Repair or Replace Your Vehicle?

As you’re presented with expensive car bills, you will be faced with a decision. Should you repair the car? Or should you replace it? This infographic provides you the necessary information on how to best make that decision.