Determine your vehicle's value in less than 30 seconds Determine your vehicle's value in less than 30 seconds

What to do With a Broken Car - Selling vs. Fixing

Not sure what to do with your broken car? In this comprehensive guide, discover the benefits of selling versus fixing and what makes sense in your situation.
Stephanie Lawrence
Stephanie Lawrence
01/26/2023 · 8 min read
What to do With a Broken Car - Selling vs. Fixing What to do With a Broken Car - Selling vs. Fixing What to do With a Broken Car - Selling vs. Fixing

Image Source

Taking care of a car can help dramatically boost its long-term value and durability. Many savvy owners are able to keep the same vehicle for multiple decades, some even without needing to invest in major repairs.

However, at some point, most car owners reach a point where they have to decide what to do with a broken car. While fixing a car is theoretically possible in almost any situation, older vehicles will typically make a visit to the repair shop an unwise choice. Even in mint condition, putting a non-collectible car for sale will not generate a lot of interest or fetch a reasonable price.

But how can you confidently decide if it’s time to sell broken car or if you should still consider paying the repair cost it requires? And should you fix a broken car at an auto repair shop before putting it on the market?

Let’s help you understand how to sell a broken car and answer other important questions below.

Repairing vs. Selling Your Car

Whether you hear strange engine noises or your car won’t even start, you’re probably wondering what the best course of action is in your situation.

On one hand, if the cost of repairs is relatively low, you might be able to keep your current vehicle for a while longer. But at the same time, even simple repairs tend to accumulate over time, and they won’t necessarily boost your car’s value, even if you include them in the vehicle history report.

To help you make an informed choice, let’s look at the benefits of fixing versus selling a broken car.

Fixing Your Car - Benefits

Before you start thinking about how to prepare your car before selling or looking for potential buyers, it’s a good idea to at least explore the potential benefits of seeking repair services. And the truth is, there are unique advantages of sticking with your old car that may make sticking with your current car worth it, even if costly repairs are required.

Here are some of the benefits you should be aware of.

  • Less expensive. One of the biggest worries people have when faced with a broken car is having to deal with costly repair bills. But when you evaluate how much getting a new vehicle might cost, the amount you’d have to spend will usually begin to look much more reasonable. Even a used car will usually cost you many thousands of dollars, and there won’t be any guarantees that the car won’t need repairs. And if you want a warranty service that comes with a new car, you’d need to be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars.
  • New cars lose value immediately. If you decide you don’t want to risk buying a lemon car and start looking for new cars, the amount you pay isn’t the only aspect that puts you off. You should also be aware that the moment you drive off with your new car out of the dealership, it will likely lose around 20% of its value in a second. That means that if you were to change your mind and sell the brand-new car, getting the entire amount back would be virtually impossible.
  • Expensive repairs can still be worth it. Most car owners are dissuaded from repairing their car when it is diagnosed with severe engine or transmission issues. These types of problems can cost thousands of dollars to fix, which can make even the thought of paying for the repairs seem impossible. But if you take a step back and look at your situation from a purely financial perspective, even the most costly repairs can make sense in some cases. If your broken car is still relatively new, the repairs can significantly boost its value and be cheaper than getting a car in good condition.
  • Fixing your car can extend its life. The number of years you’ve been driving your car can impact its price and interest from potential buyers. But at the same time, if you perform regular maintenance on your current vehicle and fix problems as they arise, you can still get at least a few years out of it, even if the car is older and doesn’t look as good as some of the newer models. And if you like your vehicle and have a sentimental attachment to the memories it represents, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t invest in auto repairs as long as they make sense financially.

Selling Your Car - Benefits

It’s clear that in some situations, holding on to your car and at least getting a repair estimate makes sense. But there are also compelling arguments for getting rid of your broken car and getting a newer and more reliable model.

Below are some of the biggest benefits of investing in a new car.

  • Peace of mind. When driving an older car, the number of times you need to go to a repair shop will naturally increase over time. And the worst part is that your car might break down at the most inconvenient time. Meanwhile, if you buy a new vehicle, you can be confident that the car will perform well for an extended period of time. Whether you want to go on longer trips or just know that the vehicle will get you where you need to go, a new car provides peace of mind that a used older car could never match.
  • More economical. Even though it’s not universal, most modern cars are designed to be more fuel efficient. That means that even though you will have to make a more substantial initial investment, you’ll also enjoy savings that come with lower expenses on gas. At the same time, not having to worry about expensive breakdowns will help make your finances more predictable, which is a nice thing to have as well.
  • Safety and convenience. One of the biggest reasons many people regularly upgrade their cars is the premium features that come with newer models. Car technology is continually evolving, which means that even a vehicle that’s just a few years old can be significantly behind its newer version. That’s especially true for safety features, which are taking giant leaps forward as car manufacturers utilize autonomous driving and safety features that weren’t available before. So, by upgrading your car, you can create a more comfortable and safer driving experience for yourself and your family.
  • Save time. Leaving your car in the shop for repairs is not just a considerable expense. A repair job can also take a significant amount of time, which you’ll need to get by without your primary car. At the same time, driving back and forth to the repair shop also wastes a lot of time, which you could use for productive activities or spending quality time with your family.

How to Know if Your Car is Too Expensive to Repair

Image Source

Many factors play a role in determining whether it’s worth paying the repair cost and getting your car in working order. And the most crucial consideration is the car’s value relative to the amount you would need to pay.

At some point, the investment required will not be worth it because the car is too old and not valuable enough. As a rough rule of thumb, when the repair costs start approaching half of your car’s worth, that’s a good indication it’s not worth going through with them.

However, there’s another vital aspect to consider. You should get a professional opinion on how much your car’s value might increase from getting the repairs done. If you have to invest $1,500, but the value of your vehicle could go up by a similar amount as a result, the repairs will probably be worth it. On the other hand, if the repairs won’t impact the car’s purchase price, then you, as the vehicle owner, should probably sell it.

At the same time, you don’t want to be putting money into a junk car forever, and there are many reasons why you shouldn’t be driving a junk car anyway.

Should You Repair Your Car Before Selling

When it comes to repairing your car before the sale, there’s no clear-cut advice everyone should follow.

If selling privately, it makes sense to make at least minor and inexpensive repairs that are causing issues. You should also try to repair visible damage that doesn’t cost much to fix and get the car cleaned, so it looks more appealing.

However, for an older car, it doesn’t really make sense to invest a lot into repairs if you’re going to sell.

The good news is that you can avoid all of that if you sell to a reputable junk car buyer. You can get a fair price for your car in its current condition and avoid spending time and money on repairs that might not even pay off.

Bottom Line

When your car breaks down, you typically have two choices: sell it as it is or try to repair it. And the choice you make will typically come down to how expensive the repairs are going to be, how valuable the car is, and whether you want to go through the process of getting a new car.

The good news is that if you work with a reputable junk car buyer, you can at least get a quick quote for how much you could get for your car in its current condition. Then, you can make an informed decision about whether you want to pay for repairs or just want to get immediate cash for your car and buy a new one.

Get Free Instant Quote

Ready to get started?

Did you know cars contain platinum, palladium, copper and other precious metals? We can determine the real market value of your junk vehicle. Get a totally free, no obligation quote with guaranteed pickup price. Large Logo
Made with in Philadelphia
Established in 1968