Drivers of older cars are faced with a dilemma when confronted with repairs: should they bite the bullet and pay to get the problem fixed – even though the bill might rival the value of the car – or should they cut their losses and move on?
Stan Tittle, owner of Brentwood Transmissions & Auto Care center at 305 Central Terrace, said he experiences this dilemma on a weekly basis. According to Tittle, a car owner should consider several things before giving the green light to a costly repair: the car’s subjective value and the difference between its overall mechanical condition and its Blue Book value, which can be found at www.kelleybluebook.com.
“There is a point of no return,” Tittle said. “It just depends on the Blue Book value of the vehicle versus the repairs and also what the customer feels his car is worth to him as far as the mechanical shape of the vehicle.”
According to Tittle, owners sentimentally attached to their car usually opt for the repairs in order to keep their prized possession running smoothly. But when heavy repairs such as maintenance of the transmission (which Tittle said can cost up to $3,000) or the engine come into play, owners should give serious thought to cutting their losses.
If the car looks good on the outside, however, and has no serious mechanical problems, owners should opt for repairs. “Some vehicles that are in good mech shape would be worth fixing even though the Blue Book value is not what it should be,” Tittle said.
The first things to wear out on older cars, Tittle said, are safety items such as brakes, lights and windshield wipers. Problems involving the water pump, radiator and timing belts are also common – totaling about $300 or more – but not as costly as major repairs.
Gary Kendall, owner of Kendall Automotive at 205 Oak St., advises older-car owners to prepare for a major repair by setting aside money each month. Even so, said Kendall, “It depends on how the customer likes the car, and its sentimental value. Sometimes people don’t care at that point what it costs – they just love the car.”
Check out this Friday's edition of the Press for the complete Fall Auto Care Guide.