Fix It Or Ditch It: How To Tell When Enough Is Enough With Your Car

filling oil in a car's engineThe cars of today get built to exacting standards. They have to endure the harshest of operating environments. And they need to work through longer service intervals. Of course, all cars aren’t built exactly the same, and some are more likely to fail sooner than others.

Are you a car owner? If so, you might be wondering how long your car has got left before it starts showing any serious problems. Or maybe it already has some problems, but you don’t know whether to fix them or call it a day.

If you fall under the latter category, this handy guide can help you decide what’s best for you and your car.

Your car’s engine smokes a lot

All cars that have petrol or diesel engines will emit smoke at some point. And most of the time, the smoke is quite normal.

For instance, white smoke on a cold morning is just steam from the engine and exhaust system. But it’s when you see plumes of smoke that you need to consider what your plan of action will be:

  • Plumes of white smoke under load. The cause is due to water entering the combustion chamber, and is often caused by a failed cylinder head gasket;
  • Plumes of blue smoke under load. The cause is due to oil entering the combustion chamber and could be down to worn piston rings or valves.

To fix any of those problems will cost a lot of money, especially if you have a V6 or V8 engine.

The automatic transmission has one or more faults

Automatic gearboxes cost a lot more to repair than their manual counterparts. That is because they are complex and harder to repair. Does your automatic have problems shifting up into second gear?

Does it enter into “limp mode” sometimes? There can be a wide range of causes to these problems. It could be as simple as a faulty solenoid to something more complicated. If your car isn’t worth much money, you will be better off selling it on a spares or repairs basis.

A lot of rust is showing up on the bodywork

Rust is every car owner’s worst nightmare! One small stone chip soon becomes a big rusty hole in your car’s bodywork. The older a car gets, the greater the chance of it suffering from corrosion.

If your car has a lot of rust, it is worth getting some quotes to have the rust removed and any new metal welded into place. Should the repairs reach three or four-figure sums, you know it’s time to ditch the car and move on!

I faced a similar problem myself not so long ago. In the end, I decided to head down to my local Pentagon Group dealership to get some quotes on the repairs. In my case, the work involved wasn’t expensive. But I’ve seen cases where people got faced with repair bills in their thousands!

And if you’re thinking of performing some DIY rust removal and repair work, I would forget it. You will just waste your time and money. Trust me – I’m talking from experience! Get a professional to quote and carry out any repairs for you.

Does it Cost More than the Car is Worth to Fix it?

My general rule-of-thumb is- if it costs more than the car is worth to fix it, it’s time to ditch it. For example, if you need a new transmission, which costs $2500, but the blue-book value of the car is only $1800, it’s time to sell it (or junk it!)

I hope this guide has been useful to you. Thanks for reading!

Image via Flickr, thanks **RCB**.