What If Repair Costs Exceed the Value of My Car?

Being a vehicle owner is more of a responsibility than many drivers realize. Every car requires routine maintenance, but when the cost of repairs exceeds the value of your car, you’ve come to a crossroads. Here are the different options you have if your car’s repair costs exceed the worth of your car.

Common Car Repairs

It’s normal for cars to require certain repairs or replacements, such as:

  • Flat tire
  • Oil change
  • Spark plugs
  • Air filters
  • Scratches and dents
  • Car battery
  • Headlights or taillights
  • Brake pads

Performing these car maintenance tasks help prevent you from paying astronomical amounts of money for more complex repairs, such as rebuilding an engine.

What If the Car’s Repairs Are More Than the Estimate?

No one likes to pay more than they need to. If your car’s repairs are more than the estimate your mechanic provided, it may be time to shop around for a new mechanic.

Get estimates from at least two other mechanics and compare the repair totals next time your car needs work. You can choose the mechanic with the least expensive repair quote, fix your car, or sell it to a junkyard.

What to Do with a Car That Costs Too Much to Fix?

If your car’s repairs are too expensive, you can attempt to trade your vehicle or sell it to an establishment that gives you cash for junk cars. You can also sell the vehicle as is and let someone else handle the repairs.

Should I Repair, Replace, or Trade in My Car?

When you receive a car repair estimate that rivals the value of your car, you may be wondering if it’s worth it to repair it. You may also be considering trading it in or getting a new car. Here are a few ways to think about it:

Trade in Your Vehicle

If you’re considering trading in your vehicle that has mechanical issues, there are a few factors you need to consider. Some dealers will accept the trade but don’t expect to get thousands of dollars for a subpar trade, which is why many people prefer to junk their car and get cash instantly. The amount of money you receive for your vehicle depends on how extensive the damage is.

Buy a New Car

Buying a newer model car is a significant investment, but this option becomes more appealing every time you think about your car’s expensive repairs. An upfront $1,500 or more seems ridiculous compared to a $500 or less down payment for a new car. Getting a new car is the more expensive option in the long run, but initially, it’s the least costly option.

Weigh Your Options

Weighing your options can be more of a challenge than you anticipated. To make the most reasonable decision, consider the pros and cons of each option.

Fixing Your Car

Pros

  • Quicker than shopping around for a new vehicle
  • The cost of insurance remains the same
  • You’re aware of the car’s history
  • You don’t have to waste time advertising your car to sell it

Cons

  • You’re stuck paying for expensive auto repairs
  • You may be set back on paying your other bills
  • There is the possibility of more expensive repairs in the future

Trading in Your Car

Pros

  • Small down payment for a new car
  • Lower purchase price of a more recent model car
  • Quick purchase transaction
  • Someone else pays for your car’s maintenance

Cons

  • Limited Buying Options

Buying a New Car

Pros

  • Your purchase can include maintenance and warranties
  • Newer model vehicles have advanced safety features
  • Improved longevity

Cons

  • Long-term financial commitment
  • Higher insurance premium
  • Increased vehicle taxes

Is it Worth Replacing a Car Engine?

Having a car that’s out of commission is more than an inconvenience. A car that’s not in proper working order indicates one or multiple repairs that need to be made. When your car’s engine is the culprit, you have various factors you need to consider.

Is It a DIY Job?

Repairing or replacing your engine is not a do-it-yourself job unless you’re a certified mechanic. It’s best to have the job completed by a mechanic to ensure the job is done correctly and avoid unnecessary repairs.

How Much Is It Going to Cost?

Everything has a price, and replacing a car engine is among the most expensive car repairs. You need to factor in the cost of labor and the cost of the parts to replace the engine. In general, the replacement of a four-cylinder engine can range between $4,000 and $5,000. A more powerful engine, such as a V6 or V8 engine, may be twice as much to replace.

How Much Money Will I Get If My Car Is Totaled?

Before you start counting your coins, you need to determine if you have a car that’s considered a total loss or “totaled.” You have a totaled car if:

  • The damage your vehicle sustained can’t be safely repaired
  • It costs more to repair your car than its actual value
  • Your state’s regulations dictate the amount of damage your vehicle can sustain before it’s considered a total loss

Determining the Worth of a Totaled Car

To determine the worth of your totaled car, use Kelley Blue Book to find the worth of your car in fair condition. Take 20 percent of the actual value of your vehicle in fair condition and use it as a base amount for the total amount of money you’ll receive for your car. You may receive more cash for your vehicle, but the base amount gives you an ideal sum of what you can expect to receive.

The bottom line is repair costs that exceed the value of your car’s worth are a deal-breaker in most situations. There’s no sense in keeping a car you can’t use or has reached the end of its life cycle.