When it’s Time to Let Go of a Car

To most of us, a car is more than a machine to take us from point A to point B. Many times, a car is a part of the family. It has taken you on trips, dates, and has been there for you night and day. So when it’s time to let go and consider replacing the vehicle, it can be very difficult. For me, I go back and forth, trying to determine if it is really worth replacing the car or truck versus trying to keep it going. In this article, we will review some ideas and tips you can use to help you decide if it’s time to replace that car.


Just because a car is old, does not necessarily mean you need to get rid of it. We tend to keep our vehicles for many years. Our Pacifica is 15 years old. Our Dodge Ram was 20 years old when we let it go. Our Pontiac G6 is 12 years old. So age is not always the only factor to consider.  The condition of the vehicle is very important too. Our Pacifica, for instance, is in great shape. My wife babied the car, and it was always kept in the garage. It still looks great and runs really well (thanks to regular oil changes and maintenance).

On the other hand, our Dodge Ram was rusted out, misfiring, and had more problems than I can name. So, “condition” is your first clue as to whether or not you should replace a vehicle.

Repair Costs

As cars age, they need to be repaired more often. Parts naturally wear down, need replacing, and time takes its toll. So here is what a wise mechanic once told me. Add up your repair bills over the last six months to a year. Then divide the total cost by the number of months. If the repair bills are totaling more than half of a car payment each month, consider replacing the car.

For example:

Total All Repairs – Last 6 Months: $1200

Average Cost per Month (1200 / 6 = $200): $200 per month

Average Monthly Cost = $200

If you can get a car you really want for less than $200 per month, it’s probably time to trade in or sell the car and get another one.

Sentimental Value

Of course, this isn’t the only way to determine if you should keep a vehicle or not. You need to think about what you use the vehicle for and if the sentimental value you place on it is worth keeping it around. I had to face this issue with the Dodge Ram. Both of my boys learned how to drive using that truck. It was in half a dozen parades. It hauled a ton (literally) of stuff over its very useful life. It was hard to let go. But in the end, we gave it away to a mechanic who still uses it for his work today. So, it got a new life.


Knowing when to let go of a vehicle and start looking for a new one may not always be easy, but when you weigh the repair costs and sentimental value, you should be able to make the right decision.

Written by Gary Pradel