When Should You Stop Fixing Your Old Beater Car?

by Pam on September 6, 2010

It is hard to know when to stop putting money into repairing an old beater car.  Beaters can seem like bottomless pits, always draining your cash flow as year after year another component of the car gets worn out.  There comes a time when it is best to just stop putting more money into it, but just when exactly is that?

The answer really depends on your goals for the present and the future.   My husband and I recently faced just such a dilemma.  Here’s our situation: We have a newer car that we rely on for our road trips as well as to commute to work, go camping, etc.  We also have a much older and less reliable car that we use to get from point A to point B, which from now on will be referred to as our beater car.  Since we both work at different locations, we each require our own car.

Unfortunately our beater car recently had some major issues that required us to cough up just under $1000 for repairs.  At first we thought we wouldn’t bother doing the repairs and we would just donate it to a local mission organization to sell for parts.  However, we ended up changing our minds and fixing it after all because for us, the alternative would be to simply buy yet another beater car.

Why?  Because we just couldn’t justify spending a ton of money on another newer vehicle.  We just don’t need two really good vehicles right now, and any money we have set aside right now we hope to use for travelling in the near future, not for vehicles.  We also felt more comfortable dealing with our own familiar beater than buying someone else’s which might have even more issues than our own.

Although we may regret this decision, as something else might go wrong with the car in the next few months, we thought we would take our chances.  I hope we made the right decision.   We hope that the car will last us at least another 8 months or so at the very least.

If you have an old beater and you are pondering whether or not to put more of your hard earned money into it, consider the pros and cons of repairing it.   Base your decision on what you hope to do in the future as well as your present situation.  If there is good public transit available, you may be able to get by without a car.   It is really hard to say whether it’s wise to fix old beaters or to just donate them.  All I know is that cars are very expensive to maintain and to insure and for anyone who doesn’t need a car to get around, I applaud you as you are saving yourself a ton of money that can be used for other things that are much more exciting.

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