Repair (and keep) or buy new vehicle?

Discussion in 'General discussions' started by Herald, Jun 18, 2017.

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  1. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    I'm struggling with making a decision on whether I should keep my 2007 Ford Escape. Let me provide some details:

    1. I'm an outside salesperson, and use my car for work. I average about 30,000 miles annually.
    2. My current vehicle is a 2007 Ford Escape with about 170,000 miles. I own the vehicle outright.
    3. The engine runs well, but the transmission is starting to slip.
    4. I just replaced the alternator and battery this week, but the vehicle needs new brakes (front and rear), and exhaust work. The total cost for these repairs is $1000. I also need to replace the tires in about 90 days. Tires will cost $550.
    5. If the transmission needs replacing I'm looking at $1000 for a salvage transmission, and $3000 for a remanufactured transmission.

    I can't afford to make a cash purchase for a replacement vehicle. I will have to finance any vehicle I purchase. If I only used the vehicle for commuting or driving around town, I would make the necessary repairs. But in my case, my vehicle is my office. I sell maintenance products and keep sample in my vehicle. A small SUV is the vehicle of choice in my career field. I'm able to write off all my business miles. 30,000 miles X $0.535 equates to a sizable deduction. If I purchase a replacement vehicle, my budget is $10,000 with no more than a 24 month term. I can afford to put $2000 down, so that leaves a loan amount of $8000.

    In my case does it make sense to purchase a replacement vehicle for work, or to keep the Escape and pay for the repairs? I already know I have to spend at least $1550 in the next 90 days to make necessary repairs and to purchase new tires. If the transmission goes, I'll be spending between $1000-$3000 (and with the way it's slipping, it's only a matter of "when", not "if").
  2. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    What model year would you be able to purchase for $10000? If it's not going to be significantly newer than 2007, it seems like it might not be a good choice. Have you considered leasing? If I'm not mistaken, a portion of your lease payment may also be tax deductible if your vehicle us used for business purposes. I can certainly understand not wanting a large car payment. I drive a 99 Ford f-150 with 235,000 miles. She ain't pretty, but she's paid for.
  3. BG

    BG Puritan Board Junior

    The cheapest car you will ever buy is the one you already own, it's always cheaper to keep and repair a used car than to buy a new one.

    Having said that,image is everything if you're a sales person and your customer see your car it may be beneficial sales wise to have a new one.
  4. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    In your case, given the facts, I would suggest buying. A 10 year old Ford with 170k is probably near the end of its useful life. Even when you fix the known problems, something else is likely to go. Said as someone who just put close to $1k into a 17 year old Toyota with close to 180k miles.
  5. augustacarguy

    augustacarguy Puritan Board Freshman

    It’s probably safe to put the money into your Escape. That’s what I’d suggest.

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  6. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Leasing is seldom a wise choice for anyone, but especially so in my situation. I drive in excess of 30,000 miles annually. I would be killed by the over mileage charge on a lease. With the samples I carry in my vehicle, I can count on some cosmetic damage to the interior. If I purchase a replacement vehicle, I'll try to find that sweet spot between the age of the vehicle and how many miles it has on it. I'm undecided as to which way I'll go, but I certainly won't put myself in a worse situation.
  7. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Will, I like your screen name. It's apropos to the thread.

    When I had the alternator replaced this past week, the mechanic left my sunroof open after he took it for a test drive. While I was waiting for him to finish the repair there was a torrential thunderstorm. My vehicle was flooded. I let the vehicle air out in the Florida heat Thursday, Friday, and Saturday hoping to keep mildew from forming. Unfortunately the stench is overwhelming. I sprayed Lysol in the vehicle, and even sprinkled baking soda on the fabric and carpet, which I vacuumed up later, to no avail. I can't leave the windows up because the odor makes me sick. *sigh* My lovely bride is the one who wants me to purchase a new vehicle. The cheapskate in me wants to keep this one if it's practical.

    Thanks to all for your input.
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    If you keep it, in a few weeks you are going to be about $6000 into the project, with no certainty of what may break when. I had a small sensor go out last weekend while driving home from church that is totally unnecessary for the safe operation of the car, but which is mandated by environmental regs. $500. There is a second one in the engine. It may last the life of the car, or it may go out tomorrow. 10% of the value of the car (which is still worth roughly what I paid for it about 5 or 6 years ago).

    A transmission or an engine re-build? The car probably goes to charity. What is your vehicle going to be worth after the work is done?
  9. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Puritan Board Sophomore

    Almost the very same thing happened to my beloved yellow 2001 Escape almost a year ago! Apparently the windows or sunroof were left open at the mechanic's, we got it home and parked it for a few weeks, and the interior turned into green fuzz. We sold it to a guy who stripped it out and got it running again. I will say that we got 275,000 miles out of it with often years between any major repairs.

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  10. augustacarguy

    augustacarguy Puritan Board Freshman

    I’m a car dealer. Buick GMC Chevy Cadillac. Small SUVs hold their value exceptionally well. Finding a replacement may give you the same issues. If you think the transmission work will fix it, I think it’s worth trying to get some more out of the car. I’d always rather sell something, but sometimes the best thing for the customer is to repair. Just my opinion.

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  11. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    That's a lot of miles. Once you start fixing cars you tend to keep fixing them. By the time you're done you could have bought a newer car that would last longer. I say go on carfax and find something you can afford with much less miles.
  12. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I did a bit more research on the vehicle. I see that it has a timing chain instead of a timing belt. That would be a factor in favor of keep and repair. I still have a concern about how much life a Ford would have at 170k.
  13. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Senior

    Depends on how well you maintain it. My Expedition made it to 300,000 miles.
  14. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    It's a judgment call I suppose but I'd unload it. If it were a 2011-2012 or so I would probably do the repairs. The only exception would be if I knew I could get a fairly low mileage tranny ( <100k miles or so ) from salvage and get it done right away. Even with the work it needs done you can probably get 2.5k selling it yourself or even more if it is AWD. I have an 05 Escape with 202k miles but the previous owner didn't maintain it well. I paid next to nothing for it but I'll probably be unloading it.
  15. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    Unless I could get the repairs cheap I'd finance something like this and unload yours. That would leave me with a note not too much higher than your pending repair bill.

    Update: I stand my my point but I wouldn't get the above listed model as it is the Hybrid. The battery replacement is nearly $5K. I checked into buying a 05 Hybrid Escape a month ago and researched batteries. Scary. Here is a better example and it has the V6 too!
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2017
  16. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    My decision has been made. I'll share it in the hopes that it will help others who are trying to be good stewards of their money when it comes to keeping or purchasing a vehicle.

    The estimated repair bill climbed since my first post in this thread. The mildew that was growing in the interior couldn't be eradicated without removing/replacing all the carpeting and the fabric on the seats. I had two estimates: $2,200 and $1,890 respectively. With the $4550 for exhaust work, brakes, tires, and (probably) a new transmission, I was leaning towards getting the work done. The interior work was the straw that broke the camels back. The total for estimated repairs was around $6550 before tax. I was planning on keeping the vehicle for three more years. $6550 divided by 36 months is $181.94 monthly. This presumes that there will be no significant future repairs. Since I drive in excess of 30,000 miles annually, future repairs are expected.

    I looked at a 2011 Ford Escape with 100,000 less miles than my 2007 Escape. The price was at the top end of what I was willing to spend. However, the dealer offered me $2200 trade-in value for my 2007 Escape which was $300 under the "good" condition price according to Kelly Blue Book. The smell from the mildew was noticed immediately by the salesperson, so I didn't expect the trade value they offered. The price of the 2011 Escape was $1,100 under Kelley Blue Book and $800 lower than TrueCar's suggested price. I was able to negotiate the purchase price $550 lower than the asking price. With the trade, and the money I could put down, my payments on a 36 month loan was going to be $198 monthly (payments would be $250 monthly if I put no money down). Since the vehicle comes with a 90 day bumper to bumper warranty, and a 1 year unlimited mileage, power train warranty, I would mitigate serious repair costs for at least 12 months. That's important based on the miles I'll be racking up. I also get to write off 30,000 miles annually on my takes.

    The deciding factor in my decision was the amount work miles I drive. The vehicle I drive is as much as an investment in my job, as it is personal transportation. My decision was to purchase the 2011 Escape. While I took the 3 year loan, I am going to accelerate payments and pay the vehicle off in 24 months. I'm planning on keep the new Escape for at least 5 years. The only reason I made the decision to purchase was because of the numbers. The math worked out. My variables are not the norm. Using my vehicle primarily for business is much different than personal use and commuting. Had my driving been the latter, I would have kept the 2007 Escape.

    I want to thank everyone for their input. It helped me greatly.
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  17. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Were the folks that sold you the newer car the same ones that let the water get in it?
  18. Herald

    Herald Moderator Staff Member

    Absolument pas!

    When my 2007 Escape broke down I was 90 minutes from home. I tried all the obvious places (Pep Boys, Firestone, Goodyear etc.), but no one could fit me in and repair it that day. A local auto parts store recommended a private mechanic. The mechanic said he could do it. The rest of the story is history. I purchased the new vehicle from a reputable dealership in Apopka, FL.
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  19. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Senior

    Thanks for the post game show. Glad it is going to be working out. Also the 2011 is an older body style that I think looks better than the newer ones.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  20. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I was wondering if it had contributed to the deal you got. Apparently not. While it is probably not worth litigating even in small claims/jp court, I might be inclined to invite the mechanic to contribute back the labor portion of his bill toward the price of the new car since he was the actual cause for the replacement. If he gives you a vulgar two word response, there's always Yelp.
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