What to Do with This Car?

Updated on July 31, 2012
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
5 answers

I'm still paying on my 2004 Ford Explorer, got less than $3000 to go. It will be paid off before February of next year. We have bad credit so I financed it through a dealership that offers in-house financing so that we could pay it off to help to stabilize our credit. Anyway, several weeks ago my husband did a tune-up on my car, changing the oil, air filter, and replacing spark plugs. Turns out, he didn't gap the spark plugs properly, which caused some pretty expensive repairs to be needed. All in all, in order to get my car to even pass inspection, it's going to cost over $2000. That's not including the air conditioner, which desperately needs to be serviced. My car is worth about $5000 in good condition. It has 137k miles on it.

So what would you do? Would you pay it off and repair it (which would cost about $5000, and then I would have a paid off and fully functional car), or would you trade it in (which would cost me another car payment for another 2 1/2 years, and then I would have a fully functional car)? 2 1/2 years is the length of the car note I got with the car I'm currently driving. I already spoke to my sales rep, and he can get me into another vehicle for zero down, just my trade-in. He already crunched the numbers for me.

I'm just having a tough time deciding. Committing to another payment freaks me out, but paying all that money to repair an 8-year-old car also freaks me out. What do you think?

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answers from Eugene on

A paid-for car in good working condition is worth a million bucks in my book. Sorry to hear about the unexpected repair bill. How long, or how many car payments does that add up to? If it's less than the 2 1/2 years you'd have to pay for a new car, I'd pay off the current car and repairs, then start saving that "car payment" towards a new car. Who knows, by the time your current car breaks down for good, you may have enough to buy the new car with cash and and be done with car payments for good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I had a paid off van for 11 years. We bought our 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan for cash in 2001. It was GREAT not having a car payment....however, the costs of upkeep on the van were getting to the point of equaling a car payment.....

My check engine light was on AGAIN (last year was $2000 to fix that).
$400 to get it to pass inspection this year.
$1500 on other issues last year...the list goes on and on.

If you have the money to pay it off and fix it. Do it. IF you know the car will be reliable after that. If it will be like my Dodge Grand Caravan - then trade it in.

Did the sales representative take into consideration your pay off amount as well as the current condition and value of the car? If not - I would be hesitant to run out and purchase a "no down payment" car. Get all the facts. Get it in writing. Pay off, condition, current value and what you are looking at for a new or newer car....don't get excited and jump ship because it sounds good.....

I don't like car payments. But I have them now since we bought the Honda Odyssey. However, on the flip side? I have a RELIABLE car....so I have car payments with a reliable car...don't like the first part of that sentence - but I sure LOVE the second part!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Based on the information you provided, do NOT get a different car.

That being said, now you need to provide us with the important information needed to make an informed decission. It doesn't matter if another car would be 12 months of payments or 60 months of payments. What matters is the actual cost!!!!

- What do you mean that you have $3,000 to go? Is that the payoff amount, or is that the number of payments remaining multiplied by the payment amount?
-What's the sticker price on the other car?
-What's the value of the trade in?
- What's the interest rate your currently paying?
- What's the interest rate on the other car?
- Now that your credit has improved, what other options are available to you?
- Do you have the $2,000 for the repairs? If not, where will you get that money? If yes, then you should be using that for the downpayment on the other car.
- Have you talked with any other dealerships? What are your options?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Are you sure it will only be worth 5 grand? Look at what I found.

If you get a new car, will you get one that is more fuel efficeient? That might weigh into it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

I haven't had a car payment in about 15 years so I may be a bit biased but I would try to avoid another car payment. I think you should consider how much it would cost to buy a comparable vehicle (same year, miles, type, etc), if it looks like it will be more than $5000. than it makes sense to fix and keep the car. Also check around on the cost to fix, maybe you can fix it cheaper.

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