You’re driving to work when the “check engine” light comes on. It could mean a number of things, so no need to panic. But it is time to have a mechanic look over your car. He can tell you what’s wrong and give you an idea of how much it will cost to repair it.

Maybe it’s not your engine light, but something else is wrong with your car. Your first step is the same regardless of the problem. Take it to a trusted mechanic and find out how much it will cost to fix it. Most repairs are fairly inexpensive compared to the cost of buying a new car. It’s when the repairs are major–such as replacing the engine or transmission–that the cost can be prohibitive.

Once you know how much the repair will cost, ask the mechanic if there is anything else you will likely need to repair in the near future. This can impact your decision whether it’s worth it to repair the car as well.

It’s almost always cheaper to fix your car than to buy a new one. However, if you are buying another used car, that may not be the case. If it’s going to cost $5,000 to $6,000 to repair your car, it’s very likely that you could get a good used car for around the same cost. It’s at this point that you might ask, when is it not worth repairing a car? What happens if you buy another used car and something major goes wrong with that car within the next year or two? Would it be better to keep your old car with a new engine?

Here are some circumstances when it makes sense to consider buying a new (or new used) car:

  • Your car has been breaking down frequently.
  • Your car leaves you stranded often or makes you late for work.
  • The repair cost is more than half the value of the vehicle.
  • Your mechanic indicates that you’ll need more repairs in the near future.

Whether you decide to repair your old car or get a new one, make sure to keep up with the maintenance in order to extend the life of the vehicle as much as possible. If you take good care of it, it will last much longer.

If you’re considering buying a new used vehicle, check out our extensive inventory online. You might find we have the perfect solution for you.