Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Should I trade?

asked by on

My teenager drives this car, and so did her older sister before her. We bought it used and have owned it for 9 years. My oldest wrecked it twice, never her fault, and substantial damage was done to the involved cars, but never this one. We did replace a side mirror and fix a dent.

The car has needed new struts for several years, but I have not done that as the estimate was about $1500, which may be more than the car is worth. I also don't carry collision insurance.

The car drives great and is a part of the family. However, it's about to need new brakes again, I just replaced a brake hose, and I never know what it will need next.

My biggest concern is safely, but as a single mom, cost of repairs is also an issue.

Can you confirm that it's probably time to purchase something else, and suggest something that is less expensive to buy/maintain, and comes close to the safety record of a Volvo? I would probably purchased a used vehicle from Carmax.

Thanks! Lynn

My car has 170000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

Hi Lynn, thanks for writing in. Having two kids myself, I’ve been in your shoes. My rule of thumb is that if the cost of repairs today outnumbers the low blue book value of the vehicle, you should consider buying a newer vehicle. Although I’m a fan of Volvos (in regards to safety), one problem they have is once they reach 150,000 miles, some of them start to get expensive to repair and maintain. Believe it or not, right now Volkswagens are selling incredibly cheap (mostly due to the poor PR they got with the manipulated emissions systems). Volkwagens tend to be very good in regards to safety, especially Jettas and GTIs. Otherwise, Nissans, Hondas, and Toyotas tend to be the most economic and less expensive to repair. A good resource for buying a good used car is Edmunds.com for professional reviews and ratings. We also have a few good articles you can read here on YourMechanic.com about tips for buying used cars. Also, we offer pre-purchase car inspections if you decide to buy a used car. Best of luck in your search.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Spark plugs popping out

Hello. You would be correct that the threads are stripped. The stripped spark plug holes could be repaired by having a technician helicoil them. This would only be a temporary fix and doesn't always hold up. Ultimately, you would need...

Q: What should I look for when buying this car

As you may know with any car, the way the car has been maintained previously has a lot to do with how well the car will last. The mileage is not abnormally high for a car of that age and...

Q: My car won't start and it say immobilizer in my 2007 Volvo S40

You either have an issue with the immobilizer system or a problem with the battery. If the battery is low then there will not be enough voltage available in the car to deactivate the immobilizer system and start the vehicle....

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...