Expensive Car Repairs: Fix It or Trade It?

Every time your dashboard lights up with a mechanical failure, your mind instantly wonders, “what’s wrong this time?” Your next thought is realizing that you have to decide — repair it or not. Depending on the age of your car, what you paid for your car versus what it’s worth now, and the type of repair, sometimes the fix is worth it. Sometimes the repair is worth more than your car. But how do you know when it’s best to just cut your losses and sell?

Here are some of the most common major repairs, and questions to ask yourself to help decide if the repair is worth it.

Major Engine Repair

“Engine problems” are two words that you never want to hear. If you’re still protected by your warranty, often an engine replacement is covered. If not, that means your car is most likely more than five years old and/or has more than 60,000 miles on it. In some cases, some manufacturer powertrain warranties last up to 10 years or 100,000 miles. If your warranty will cover these repairs, you should take advantage of that. If your car is out of warranty it makes repairs that cost as much as a down payment hard to justify. On average, engine replacements cost $3,000 to $4,000 in a shop and near $7,500 at a dealership.

Blown Head Gasket

Your first question might be: “What the heck is a head gasket?” A head gasket is a component that creates a seal between the engine block and cylinder head that keeps combustion gases, oil, and coolant from leaving the engine. Still confused? Here’s what you need to know: it’s usually an expensive repair that can range from $1,200 to $1,500. Before you opt to repair a blown head gasket, think about this: it’s work that usually takes place as part of an even bigger, more comprehensive, and more expensive repair. If that $1,500 is going to turn into more expansive repairs, you may want to evaluate if it’s worth it.

Heater Core

This isn’t the time of year you want your defroster to give up on you. if you’re noticing moisture buildup and your coolant is constantly disappearing, you likely need to replace your heater core. According to Consumer Reports, this repair can cost around $1,000, depending on the make, model, and year of your vehicle. Seems like a simple fix, but if your heater core has failed, more than likely other related systems were damaged as a result, which will send you back to the mechanic soon after the core is fixed.

Air Conditioner Compressor Replacement 

When summer temps heat up and your air conditioner compressor goes, not only will you be mighty uncomfortable, but you can expect to shell out upwards of $1,000 to repair or replace it. Much like the heater core replacement, that repair usually comes as part of a larger, more expensive list of repairs. It’s also one repair you can simply put off if money is tight. It’s not unsafe to drive, just uncomfortable without one.

There’s no easy answer to the question “repair or trade it in” but it’s always worth getting prices on the repair and consider how much you’ve already spent on repairs, and how much more you’re willing to spend on your vehicle versus what it’s worth.

Whether it’s covering a repair or financing a replacement, Old Ocean Federal Credit Union can help.

We have plenty of options to help cover unexpected car repairs that go beyond your savings and offer affordable payments to fit almost any budget. Need to talk it out? CONTACT US and we can help review your options before you make an expensive mistake.


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