Home » When Is It Time To Let A Car Go?

When Is It Time To Let A Car Go?

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Very few people own the same car forever. Sure, Irv Gordon got one hell of a run out of his Volvo P1800S, and some of us have friends who still own their first cars, but the more likely reality is that eventually, you’ll probably have to send your car on. It can be a crushing thing, one of the hardest parts of car ownership, especially if it’s not on your schedule. Today we want to know, when is it time to let a car go?

I generally hold the belief that the right time to sell a car is when you no longer love it. Before I bought my 325i, I had a six-speed G35 that was heaps of fun. It had all the requisite bolt-ons from a lightweight flywheel to a plenum spacer, rode on M35 Stagea Autech Axis wheels, and looked the business. However, as it was an older Nissan in the rust belt, it hadn’t been spared from the ravages of road salt.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

More importantly, it had just become a bit of a pain over time. The seats weren’t particularly comfortable, checking the oil at every fill-up in freezing weather was annoying, and lots of dumb things were starting to go wrong. Seized caliper? Sure. Rear lower damper mount bushings going on strike? Yep. Trunk harness failure? You bet.
G35

Over time, I fell out of love with my G35, and once I knew for certain, out it went and in came the 325i. Funnily enough, I’ve now owned the BMW for far longer than I’ve owned the G35, and I couldn’t imagine selling it. Even though it’s dumb to currently have two cars that don’t get driven in the winter and none that do, the 325i and Boxster have different enough use cases that I can justify keeping both around.

So, when do you think it’s time to let a car go? Whether your primary consideration is economics of repair or your answer is as simple as “whenever the lease is up,” we’d love to hear your answers in the comments below.

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Top image: Stephen’s Jag with his best pal Reina, who clearly has doubts about the XK8.

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Super Bonk 3000
Super Bonk 3000
18 days ago

Was planning to keep my 1991 240 until it broke in half from Boston road salt, but about a year ago I spun her out on a greasy highway and hit the jersey barrier HARD backwards. Totaled. But if that hadn’t happened I’d still be driving it; that chuggy red block had almost 200,000mi on it yet started within one crank and leaked/used no oil. Parts are still pretty easy to find.

The replacement 2001 E53 X5 3.0 manual I bought last May is totally different, but a much better road-trip car. Ol’ Mrs Klankenborg was tiring to drive for more than an hour or so.

Last edited 18 days ago by Super Bonk 3000
Mike B
Mike B
19 days ago

I think when the cost of the repairs is near or exceeds the value or cost to replace the car. If there’s an emotional connection, all bets are off, but for an A-B car, that’s how I figure it.

Like my ’07 Volvo XC70 beater. Needs brakes all around (including rubber hoses), there’s an AWD/ABS code that traces back to a bad tone ring on one of the CV’s, bearing noise from under the hood that I *think* is the alternator bearing, all 4 struts could use replacing, and I just noticed a fairly significant oil leak. If I fix all that tomorrow, it still has 233K miles on it and is coming up on the timing belt/water pump service at 240K.

I really like the car, but even if I do the work myself, that’s a significant expenditure for the parts alone. And then I STILL have a 17 year old, 233k Volvo.

I think the parts alone exceed the value of the car in it’ current condition. I think I could get a sorted one with less miles for 3 or 4k.

Or sometimes people just fall out of love with a car, if it’s making one miserable, it may be time to move on.

BigThingsComin
BigThingsComin
2 days ago
Reply to  Mike B

“Just do it!”

Signed,
Your Enabler

Myk El
Myk El
19 days ago

For me, it’s when a repair is extremely expensive on a vehicle that’s close to what it might cost to replace the car with something equivalent. It’s a judgement call, of course, but a $5000 repair on a car that at max would be worth $3500 seems a bad spend.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
19 days ago

For me, I get rid of cars either because they become unsafe due to advanced rust or they become (or about to become) money pits due to advanced wear and tear.

So for my current Honda Fit, when I jacked it up not too long ago, the car went up, and then it went back down as the jack went through the rusted out rocker panel.

As a result, I’m planning on replacing it this summer as it’s still running well enough and I don’t think the level of rust is dangerous yet… but it’s getting there.

Robert Stanley McLaughlin
Robert Stanley McLaughlin
20 days ago

When I paid off my five year loan on my new 1987 Yugo, I was ready to let it go. The only taker was a local junkyard. They offered me $75. I got $80 because I couldn’t break $20. I could write a book about I experiences with that pressed plastic monstrosity. I kept the hub cap and a broken key stub to this day. Since then I stick with proven reliable cars. My old buddies called that car the “BLUGO”. It was bright blue.

Last edited 20 days ago by Robert Stanley McLaughlin
Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
20 days ago

When it costs more to repair the car than it is to purchase in cash a somewhat newer version of a similar car.
Or it gets totalled – which to me means that it’s unrecognizable as what it was in more than one view.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
20 days ago

When it doesn’t make you happy. It’s a very simple non-quantifiable equation of whether it makes your life better or not. This is not an instantaneous consideration, but a long-term one. Does the hope of having it on the road outweigh the strife of trying to get it there? Does the joy of driving it outlive the dread of what’ll go wrong next? These things exist to bring us joy, and if they don’t, then we have no use for them.

Mike B
Mike B
19 days ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

This is why I’m probably going to get rid of my ’00 Firebird. I’m past the stage in my life where I really enjoy cars like that. The thought of getting it road ready again and paying reg/insurance just seems like an added hassle and expense that isn’t worth it.

It’s a fun cruiser, but I’m not going to race it, and I’m not going to DD it. Right now it’s just sitting covered for the last two years in a family member’s garage. Oddly enough, that was probably the worth thing for it, since out of sight, out of mind, and I haven’t started it for two years after it was only supposed to be there for the winter.

Chartreuse Bison
Chartreuse Bison
21 days ago

When a critical part is backordered for months and you don’t want a dead car sitting around

R Rr
R Rr
21 days ago

Since I’ve moved stateside almost 20years ago I haven’t sold any cars. They all got scrapped or donated (except for a diesel-gate Mk6 Golf that VW paid me more than I bought if for new, which I promptly used to buy a diesel Mk7 Sportwagen that’s still my daily).

I’ve only sold my motorcycles, because moto dealers are champions at low-balling trades (I usually privately sell them within 1-2 days of advertising them, for really low prices – hence the quick sale, but still for 3-10 times the trade-in offers).

Last edited 21 days ago by R Rr
MtnCamantalope
MtnCamantalope
21 days ago

Simply looking at the picture for this article, you could tell whose car that was.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
21 days ago

When the KBB value drops below my deductible.

Brockstar
Brockstar
21 days ago

I think it’s time to let go of the car when it’s value fluctuates based on how much fuel is in the tank.

MtnCamantalope
MtnCamantalope
21 days ago
Reply to  Brockstar

In the early days of KBB I had it value the jeep I was driving. I was honest in my inputs and was returned a value of $14. I thought “crap, I need gas. I guess my car is totaled.”

Last edited 21 days ago by MtnCamantalope
Shooting Brake Advocate
Shooting Brake Advocate
21 days ago

I’ve never bought a car as an ‘investment’ and worried about what may become of its resale value, so I’m definitely one of those ’til the end of the line’ owners. That being said, the thing that made me sell my ’85 Mustang GT was one minor fender bender. I was stopped, and some lady backed into me. Full coverage insurance, damage was just over a grand, but for some reason my mentality wasn’t “I can’t wait to get this fixed and get back out there on the road in one of the cleanest and coolest cars I’ve ever owned,” it was “I gotta get out of this thing.” I don’t know why.

In retrospect I was not sound of mind when I sold it, and I regret having sold it because I am without a fun car and stuck driving an absolutely staid Volvo S60 for the foreseeable future.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
21 days ago

When I buy a car, I intend of keeping it forever. The words “resale value” never enter the equation. That said, the ones I have let go:

1975 El Camino. Too far gone for me to save. Really, shouldn’t have gotten it in the first place.

1987 El Camino and 2008 Focus. Inherited from my mother. Pushed me to seven cars at once. Far too many for my driveway or my sanity.

2010 Focus. Totaled.

And the keepers:

1972 Delta 88 convertible. Not technically my first car (see 1975 El Camino), but the first I was allowed to drive. Owned 22 years and counting.

1983 Monte Carlo SS. Also inherited from mother. Only new car parents ever owned. First car I ever rode in. No way I was letting it go.

2 1984 Fieros. The eternal projects. Neither has moved since 2008. Neither is likely to move before the end of the decade.

2019 Fusion hybrid. The daily driver. Will continue in that role until the road salt renders that impractical. Likely fate: drive train ends up in one of the eternal projects. Ford powered hybrid Fiero? Strangers things have happened.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
21 days ago

Years ago someone told me the single biggest easy thing you can do to make your car more enjoyable is to take an hour and thoroughly clean/RainX all the glass. When I get to the point that I’ll curse the glare or pine needles at the base of the windshield rather than clean, it’s time to let it go.

-mind, I have a company van, so I don’t commute in my cars; I’m admittedly privileged

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
22 days ago

“If you love something, set it free.
If it comes back, it’s yours. If not, it was never meant to be.”

An ancient human proverb.

Unfortunately machines will never understand the delicate intonations of that verse.

My MX6 stares at me with its cold, dead, headlights.
As it’s towed away.

Goodbye old friend.

I’m sorry.

My automotive regrets confound me.

Last edited 22 days ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
22 days ago

I reached the crux of my tiny V6 understanding when your timing went awry.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
22 days ago

I haven’t owned a lot of cars and many were scrapped rather than sold. I guess keep as long as you like it and it’s reasonable to keep running. My first Scirocco was scrapped due to rust and my second Scirocco was sold because I was tired of fixing the modifications and wanted a bone stock car. The Jetta that replaced it lasted 7 years until my wife demanded an automatic.
The current fleet will be run until catastrophic failure or an infusion of wealth.

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