Q: Should I trade?

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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.

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