Car question: Repair or buy a new car?

The head gasket on my 2004 Alero just died and the estimate to fix it was 2000-2500. It had 80,000 miles on it and was in fair condition. The trade-in Blue Book value for the car is 2500. Would you agree that my best bet would be to just buy a new car?

I wanted to wait a year to buy a new car but it looks like this may have forced my hand. I do have the finances to afford one now but I wanted to make sure it made economical sense.

Option 1 (repair):
-I can get another year out of my car.
-Some of the repair cost will be recouped by having something to trade in. I dont exactly know how much?

  • I will not be forced to rush the car buying process since I now have limited transportation.

Option 2 (buy)

  • I was going to do this in a year anyways.
  • I am not an impulse shopper and the thought of buying a car quickly scares me.
  • No trade in value.

What would you do and do you agree with my analysis or is there something I did not think of? Also, is the only option I have if I don’t repair the car to salvage it for a couple hundred dollars?

The repair would cost about as much as the car is worth, so if you do that, and drive the car another year, then sell for maybe a couple hundred dollars less than you could get now, you end up tying up two grand+ in an “investment” you know will depreciate. On the upside, you’d get the use of the car for another year for a net cost of a couple hundred dollars + whatever interest you could have made in a savings account or CD. Unless something else goes wrong with the car next week, or next month, etc…

If it was me, I’d just buy another car. Less chance of future problems, I think.

I don’t know. Your car is only 6 years old (and probably shouldn’t have blown a head gasket already…is this a known issue with this make/model?). If you really want to avoid buying a new car right away, I think the chances are good that the repair might actually be worth it because at only 80k miles, you should get a lot more than another year out of this car. I’m thinking you could easily get another 3 years out of it, barring it having any other major issues that you are unaware of and that you are generally satisfied with the car in most other respects.

I’d research your car online, consult a mechanic who’s worth his salt (if you know one) and make a decision from there. Its certainly a crapshoot. The only thing that makes me uneasy is that a new-ish car like your Alero would have blown the head gasket at under 100,000 miles at only 6 years old.

Good luck whichever way you go.

You might get more as a trade in than you think. I got $500 trade-in for my 2000 Kia Sephia that I decided wasn’t worth another grand in repairs. I told them exactly what was wrong with it, and they still offered me aproximately the bluebook value for its condition because the repair estimate was no more than $2000.

I recently had to make a similar decision because my car needed body work to pass inspection. The body work would have cost more then the car was worth so I bought a newer used car. I gave my old car to a friend thats boyfriend could do the body work. She really needed a car and it all worked out.

I’d trade it in on the car you were planning on getting next year.Shop around and see what the dealers will give you for your car as is for a trade in.

It depends. If the car is in good shape, you can drive it for another 80,000 miles, easy. If this is the 3.6l V-6 engine, you may be better off having a used engine installed (if the block has warped, you will have other problems beside the gasket).
Look at the other costs of a new car (higher insurance, taxes, etc.)
As I said, if you like the car and want to drive it another 4-5 years, repair is a good option.
If the block is damamged, replace the engine-you can get a junkyard engine installed for less than $2000.00

My own personal experience has been as soon as I spend for a major repair, another expensive repair pops up in a few months.

Thanks for the advice everyone. I went browsing for cars today. Leaning towards an Altima at the moment.

Jeebus, did you get a second opinion on the repair cost? If the engine is good except for the head gasket it shouldn’t cost that much. I know it is labor intensive to remove the head but 2000 dollars? The head gasket itself probably cost around 75.00 and then you would want an oil change and new coolant but other than that it is just labor. I would ask around first, especially if the car is in good shape otherwise.