Life has been tough over the last two years as the recession has bitten into family budgets. It's difficult to keep a job and even more difficult to find a new job, so decisions about transport become critical. How can you keep a job or look for new work if you don't have your own vehicle? In some cities, life is not so bad with subways and other forms of mass rapid transit. But we hate the idea of jumping on a bus even if one does happen to be passing. We depend on our own vehicles to get us where we need to be. In the good old days when credit flowed like water, we would replace our vehicles every two years or so. It was a routine we never used to think about too much. There were monthly installments on the loans, but they stayed pretty constant even though we upgraded the vehicles. Life was good. So what do we do now the money is tight? We watch the vehicles age and worry about what to do if big bills comes along for repairs. Which is better? Repair or replace?
Well, let's clear the obvious out of the way first, dealing with comprehensive and collision. As the replacement value of the vehicle falls, it's cheaper to insure. Remember the policy only pays the fair market value of your vehicle. If the cost of repairs will be more, the insurer will total the vehicle, i.e. just pay you the fair market value. In theory, this is enough cash for you to go out and buy a replacement of similar age and condition. You can get an idea of your vehicle's value by using a site like http://www.nadaguides.com/ or http://www.edmunds.com/. This gives you guide prices on the secondhand market. More importantly, these sites also tell you how much you can expect to pay to replace your vehicle, whether new or secondhand. You can also check out local dealers. Looking around the market now, most new vehicles are at least $20,000 - many a lot more. If you are thinking of replacing and you will need a loan, there are many sites giving you interest calculators so you can work out roughly how much the monthly installments are going to be.
Now we come to the final two factors. If you have kept your vehicle until the loan is paid off, your family budget is suddenly free of a burden. Your car insurance rates are falling as the replacement value falls. Put the two together and you are winning the fight to stay above water. If the worst happens and your old vehicle needs repair, get quotes from at least three different mechanics. Now you can make a smart financial decision. You know how much it will cost to replace. Which is the better deal? Here's a final thought. Modern cars are built to run for at least 200,000 miles but the more miles, the more likely the need for repairs. So pay down your credit card debts and, if there's enough, save a little to pay for any repairs that come along. That way you keep getting cheap auto insurance and keep your vehicle on the road.