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Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - dimdip

I'd appreciate any thoughts on how to decide when a car is no longer worth repairing and would be better scrapped or sold for 'spares or repair'.

The vehicle in question is a 2003 Forester non-turbo with 93k miles. Looking on ebay, it might be worth £800 to a grand as a going concern?

A replacement wheel bearing ended up costing £340 to replace last week so another seemingly minor repair like that could end up being a major chunk of the car's overall value. But aside from the top-line financial comaprison, there are of course other factors at play. I read one opinion that a bill 10% the value of the car is enough to get rid, though perhaps that was taken as an indication to sell it on rather than break it for spares.

I'd be interested to know what sort of philosophies Backroomers apply to their vehicle disposal decisions.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - oldroverboy.

If it is out of warranty and there is the possibility of a £500+ bill, it goes.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - gordonbennet

The sale value of any car is only of any consequence if you want to sell it**, that Forester as you well know is worth far more in real terms.

I look at my cars with their potential life expectancy, what they are worth to others is irrelevant, for instance our 2002 Outback H6 was bought 2 years ago for the princely sum of £1070, we ran if for a few months whilst i investigated how good or bad it really was and how long it should last all being well, and within 3 months it was shipped off to have an LPG conversion costing more than we paid for it, i also went right through the car to bring it back to my standard, all oils changed, new discs and pads all round and many hours spent rustproofing it...oh and new spark plugs which was a horrid job to do.

It might seem like money wasted to many, but SWMBO loves it, it's worth nothing to anyone else and unless something unforseen happens should last many years yet, goes like hell and costs about the same to fuel a Diesel car of the same size, what on earth could we replace it with, we have no image to maintain so new or more fashionable cars of no interest.

That wheel bearing cost far too much on your car, but you already know that, what went wrong?

It's good that such cars have little or no value, they make superb used buys and can last almost indefinately.

**like houses really and the odd British fetish of how much my house is worth, unless you sell up and go live in a tent it really matters not how much money you've made on it in the grand Ponzi scheme that forms the basis our failing economy.

Edited by gordonbennet on 09/04/2016 at 16:55

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Engineer Andy

In my view, whether a car is economic to repair/replace a faulty/broken component depends upon the following factors, other than just the repair cost vs. the 'value' of the car:

  1. Whether the car is structurally (including of panels) and mechanically/electrically sound - replacing some worn-out suspension parts for £500 may be worthwhile if it is and the car is just 'old', whereas if its got several signs of serious wear and tear on those fronts, then no - and yet both cars may have very similar values because they are older vehicles (not 'classic' cars but bog-standard ones);
  2. Whether the part(s) due for repair/replacement have previously (and relatively recently) needed repair/replacement - some cars have quite expensive parts but once fitted, they last a long time and are reliable/dependable in use during that period.
  3. The chances of general 'wear and tear' items (such as brake pads, tyres, clutch, etc) lasting for a reasonable time after the work is carried out on the other components/systems, similarly whether a 'large' (say 100k) and expensive service is soon due.

A reliable, otherwise sound car can continue to go on for several more years without too many problems and, with a bit of TLC (and luck) can be kept in fine condition via its annual service (having a good quality dealer/mechanic really helps) and keen eye/ear by the owner to spot potential issues early enough so they can be fixed before they cause a major issue and its off the road for an extended period in for a very costly repair.

Don't forget that a brand new car will inevitably cost a huge amount of money (for an average family car, probably about £8k-£12k) over a 3 year period if depreciation is taken into account, whereas a similar, older (but still reliable and sound) model would probably cost only £1k - £3k even factoring in some reasonable replacement parts being fitted.

Edited by Engineer Andy on 09/04/2016 at 17:07

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - bathtub tom

I tend to think 'it's better the devil you know'.

Getting rid because of a repair bill means the hassle of finding another and not knowing how much that will cost in hidden problems.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Wolfan

I tend to think 'it's better the devil you know'.

Getting rid because of a repair bill means the hassle of finding another and not knowing how much that will cost in hidden problems.

Hear hear, I kept my 2002 52 reg 2.2 ltr Vectra C (an ex lease car) now 14 years old for exactly that reason.

Edited by Wolfan on 09/04/2016 at 19:40

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - chriswales

The repair or scrap decision can be a hard one.

But if it still suits your needs and is generally reliable then keeping it could be the better option. I feel sometimes people focus too much on price of repairs compared to the market value of the car. Say the car is worth £1000 and you’re facing a garage bill of £500, then scarping/selling it may seem like the best option. But to get a newer car you’ll either have to use cash or take out a loan. The replacement car will still need servicing and consumables like tyres.

If you take into account loan repayments and depreciation, the newer car could cost you over £2000 a year, which may make you look differently on the £500 garage bill for the old car.

I’m currently using a 2003 Seat Leon, which I bought 10 years ago. Its market value is only around £1000, but to me it’s worth a lot more. Since I would have to pay a lot more to replace the car. I hope to get another a few years use from it and have budgeted an amount of money each year for repairs. If the repairs start over that budget or the car starts to become unreliable then I will have to replace it.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Engineer Andy

Exactly (as I said earlier) - I've done the same with my 10 year old Mazda3. Admitedly its only done 53k miles, but even so, why bother to change if everything is in good order and its structurally sound and not rusting into its grave? To buy a direct (brand new) relacement, I'd have to shell out (I don't like paying via loans or similar) best part of £15k-£17k and lose half that in depereciation alone in the first three years. My existing car is probably losing £250 a year or so.

Until the relaibility of my car drops considerably (it hasn't let me down yet) and/or requires several major repairs in quick succession (not just replacement of normal consumables like tyres etc), or starts to corrode badly in difficult (read expensive) to repair areas, then I'm keeping my car unless my finances say I can easily afford (and more) a new one. Buying a new car every three years may sound nice to some people, but in the end, if you find the right car, a longer term investment makes more sense, financially at least, and sometimes from a driving pov.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - chriswales

I think for many people it’s the fact they’re bored of the car or want to change it and use the cost of repairs as justification to themselves. These days with the better rust proofing it wouldn’t surprise me if most of the cars that turn up at the scrap yards are still serviceable.

But I’m under no illusions that I’ll be able to keep my car on the road indefinitely. There is a lot of rubber and plastic in the car that is now 13 years old. This was brought home to me last month when the fuel cap fell on the floor. The rubber strap had snapped, looking closer it was cracked in a number of places. Still a replacement was only £10 and since I serviced it myself it cost me around £50 in maintenance/repairs for the year.

So there’s some money still left in the kitty and I’m seriously considering fitting cruise control, since my right knee isn’t too pleased with the motorway commute I now have to make.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Engineer Andy

Quite right - one of the good points about owning 'properly old' classic cars, as poosed to modern 'just old' cars is that the former have excellent owners' clubs that are an excellent source of reasonably-rpiced parts and know-how, whereas the latter group (except for those 'special' modern cars, say sports cars or those popular with modders) have far less, especially when it comes to parts and expertise after the 10 year period has passed after the car goes out of production and the manufacturer is no longer obliged to make/stock spare parts for that car.

I've noticed that my local dealership has, in the last year or so, been occasionally trying to tempt me into trading my car in (presumably for one of their nice new ones) as my car neared the 10 year-old mark. Obviously they don't know my personal (e.g. financial) circumstances, though they do know my car has only just done over 50k miles, so in theory it should have a decent amount of life left in it, given a fair wind.

Whilst I am reasonably hard-headed about car purchases, most people, myself included, always include some element of 'heart' in such choices. My way of making (as far as possible) the 'right' choice is to, as far as possible, 'crunch the numbers', then see where things stand before any 'heart' comes into the decision. I also do so because I am not that good at making 'snap decisions' on issues not too familiar to me (without feeling the need to really think about them), which stands me in reasonably good stead buying cars, etc, but isn't so good in other aspects of life.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Mike H

Always a difficult question. We had the same problem with our Saab, following an alternator failure. Cost of repair was 50% of the value of the car. Fair enough, but when I added up the repair costs of things that I knew would need attention within the next few months, e.g. head gasket, and factored in the running costs (27mpg on super unleaded, and high insurance & tax), it was actually cheaper to buy a new car than have it fixed. Sad but true.

When looked at in the cold light of day (or in my case, an Excel spreadsheet), there was only one sensible decison....... so now a diesel Honda CR-V sits outside instead of a Saab :-( A good enough car in its own right, but not quite the same!

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - DirtyDieselDogg


(i)I liked your "methodology" re the Outback, a local farmer went down the same route, cept with a high spec petrol Honda Accord, which bought for "stone nothing" and then professionally gas-converted, gave sterling service.

(ii) Regardless of buying 2nd hand(with up to 100k on) or brand new, I have always choosen to run our cars for as many years as possible, on the reasonable rational belief that I trust a known-to-me quantity more than an unknown one.

(iii) Also, re the financial benefits of prolonged ownership, since car delers make money by buying and selling cars, therefore the average punter must lose commensurately, ever time they change, the fewer times I trade, the worse off the dealer must be, therefore the better off I should be.



Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Avant

"Buying a new car every three years may sound nice to some people, but in the end, if you find the right car, a longer term investment makes more sense, financially at least, and sometimes from a driving pov."

It does make sense in many ways to keep a car long-term, but much more so if you have the skills to do maintenance and repairs yourself - as GB, Engineer Andy and others clearly have.

At least, it makes sense at the moment. I wonder how far these skills will go when 2016 cars are 10 years old and need replacements. It'll depend to some extent on how durable the electronic trickery is - and even if a private individual knew how to fit the relevant part, they probably won't have the equipment at home needed to tune it.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Engineer Andy

Many thanks for the compliment, Avant, but I am purely a 'design engineer', in the Construction Industry, so no real automotive engineering experience - to be honest I do not like the 'greasy hands' required to go with maintaining cars, hence why I really thoroughly research my purchases (especially here) and tend to err on the side of caution (e.g. buying Japanese and more proven technology that necessarily the latest kit), as well as always getting my car serviced at the main dealers, even outside the warranty period.

My 'maintenance skills' starts and ends at occasional checks on fluid levels/windereen wiper and tyres' condition and keeping an eye/ear out for things generally that seem unusual (e.g. a creaking sound indicating worn suspension, etc). My philosephy (and of any decent engineer) is to try and buy products with as few 'inherent' problems as is possible - besides the research, I also wait at least a couple of years into a car model's lifespan before taking the plunge, in case some faults appear after the initial batch of first sales.

Luck does play a part as well - when I was thinking of buying my current car, the equivalent (delivery miles only) Mazda3 1.6 diesel was also being offered at Motorpoint for the same price as my 1.6 petrol (admitedly a TS as opposed the petrol's TS2), and at the time I was possibly going to be doing somewhere between 12k-20k miles p.a., so could've chosen the diesel, which hasn't been that reliable.

I was also 'lucky' that my 1.6 petrol was a European-specced car (sourced from Cyprus), which had a reasonable variation on kit to the UK version, including certain items in lieu of not having traction/stability control (I don't think either were actually needed - it handles fine generally) which have had reliability issues (shared parts with other makes) as documented on this website.

Edited by Engineer Andy on 10/04/2016 at 13:50

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - John F

It'll depend to some extent on how durable the electronic trickery is -

I am optimistic. A SW/MW/LW radio I bought in Africa in 1973 still works perfectly, as does my Akai hi-fi bought in 1975. My first lap top, the size and weight of a small paving slab, also still works.

The average age of our three cars (TR7, Ford Focus, Audi A8) is 20yrs, and I have no intention of replacing any of them unless catastrophic expensive failure. My records show that over the past 36yrs the capital cost per annum has been £780 for mine (3 audis and a TR7) and £830 for SWMBO's family cars (Fiesta, two Passats and a Focus) - falling every year from now on as long as we keep them.

So if you like it and it's well made, keep it and care for it; it's usually cheaper in the long run, especially if you do your own servicing.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - chriswales

Cars have changed significantly over the last ten years and there is a lot of extra electronics in them. As pointed out already these could well put a vehicle off the road long before any major mechanical failure. A car can be a rather hostile environment for printed circuit boards and electrical connections.

A good example is the replacement of my MK1 Leon, the MK2 has a LCD dashboard which can get corrupted by sub-zero temperatures. The official fix is a new instrument cluster costing over £800, there is a cheaper mail order fix to the existing one at around £200. As far as I can see there is no significant benefit of an LCD display over what my current car has. So having such a large potential repair bill just for something that looks nicer does rather concern me.

Tablet style touch screens are now in cars and while they do look nice, if they fail after the warranty period it could financially write off the car.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - gordonbennet

Be a bad day at Bennet Towers when i can't find a good 90's design car, built up to about 2005 latest to keep fettled for as long as possible, no intention or interest in having anything to do with 2016 vehicles, the lorry's of these years are bad enough, full of the same junk (and worse) that cars are getting, they won't see old bones either.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - concrete

Lots of views on this one. Mostly good common sense which suits the particular owner at the time. I have spent some money maintaining my 2005 Superb and it has repaid me well. Even spending say £500 and then keeping it another year is cheap motoring. Where can you rent a car for £10 per week? However the time is obviously approaching when a repacement will be sought. In view of the latest 'official' opinions about diesel( which means they will rubbish it, then tax the s*** out of it) I will probably go petrol and Japanese. Had great Honda Accords years ago. In general I agree with Avant. Get a good car, look after it and keep it. I have found that is a satisfying and economical means of motoring.

Cheers Concrete

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - LondonBus

Petrol and Japanese. Sounds like the future to me. Apart from Electric and Japanese.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Wukl

Petrol and Japanese is the way I have gone, and will continue to do so for as long as I can! My current car was £3,000 but I've probably spent two-thirds of that again in maintenance in the three years I've had it. Perhaps half of that is on what you'd consider non-service items (exhaust, radiator, brake calipers, etc) but probably not expected on a 100k car now at 150k. It's been a concious effort on my part to invest in the car ready for another two or three years rather than shying away from a £500 bill on a £1,500 car. I don't ever think if I'll ever "get my money back"; I always consider the money spent on purchasing the car to be gone the second I drive it away.

There's no finance on it and I'm fortunate to be able to put away a reasonable amount each month which is there either to pay for maintenance/repairs or the fund for my next car. But if the engine or gearbox grenaded itself tomorrow, and would cost me £1,500 to replace, would I repair or scrap? No, I probably wouldn't even though at this 'price-point' I'm a firm believer in "better the devil you know", as someone has already said. I'd spend the extra £500 on getting a like-for-like replacement, which probably would have lower mileage. I think the margin between repair cost and replacement cost would have to be that close for me.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - Dogfuzz

Advice in one line--if you are spending a REGULAR £1000 a year maintenance on top of an annual service--then it's time to move on to something else.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - John F

Crikey - that's a lot! My records show that I spent a total of £1994 in the last 5yrs (accounting years June'10 - June'15) maintaining and repairing both our cars (Audi A6/A8 and Focus) INCLUDING service and MoT costs. Admittedly I service them myself, using the MoT to check them over.

Assuming you actually like the car, I would say break point is a bill for around £500 plus the suspicion that there might be a high risk of some more expensive bills soon. One more year of ownership is one more year's avoidance of the huge depreciation of a newer car which nowadays is often measured in thousands rather than hundreds of pounds.

Repair or Scrap – how to decide ? - concrete

Gordonbennet was correct. Your old car is still worth the price of new one to replace it. I like to keep mine going and only a really catastrophic failure would se me dispose of it. A £500 repair on a basically good car which would make it last a least another year is cheap motoring really.

Cheers Concrete


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