Author Topic: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage  (Read 1604 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« on: March 20, 2018, 06:07:24 PM »
I need help analyzing the cost benefits of this, and I can't figure out the best way to do that.

Current Car:
2003 Subaru
122,000 miles
Manual Transmission
Blown head gasket ($1500-2000 to replace)

New Car Prospect:
2013 Honda Fit
25,000 miles
Automatic Transmission

I live in a place with lots of snow, so AWD is helpful, but I am in a city, so it's not necessary. My current car is in great shape. Replacing the head gaskets should get me another 100k out of it. The Honda Fit also appears to be in great shape and is listed for KBB value. I will get it inspected by a mechanic first. There is also the added benefit of the Fit being an automatic. My wife does not drive a manual transmission, so this would allow our vehicles to be interchangeable.


  • Bristles
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Re: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2018, 11:03:25 AM »
It's tough to tell as everyone's life situations and preferences are different, but it sounds to me like the Fit makes more sense for you.

I would take the Subbie's AWD out of the decision-making process, as you really don't need it unless you live in a remote area (which you don't) or do serious off-roading (which I guess you don't).  AWD's usefulness in the snow is quite over-rated, as all it really helps you do is get moving.  Once you're in motion, an AWD is just as susceptible to cold weather hazards as a two-wheel drive vehicle.  The extra expense that an AWD car entails (higher initial cost, higher repair costs, lower gas mileage) is much better applied toward an extra set of rims/TPMS sensors + winter tires on the two-wheel drive car. The difference is night and day.

Put it this way: Living in a non-rural area, I'd rather drive a mustang in the winter with a nice set of blizzaks than an AWD vehicle with all-season tires. 

This is entirely moot if you have winter tires for your Subaru. 


  • Stubble
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Re: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2018, 11:32:58 AM »
Fit likely gets much better mileage also. 


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2018, 11:39:32 AM »
If you think you can get another 100k out of the subaru, then spending 2k to replace the headgasket comes out to $0.02 per mile. I would repair if the vehicle is in otherwise good condition. Less expensive car, lower insurance, less depreciation.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2018, 11:55:00 AM »
I'd fix the Subaru and get the best tires you can afford once winter rolls back around - people take those things to like 300,000 miles+ and the head gasket is a known, common issue. My husband had a 2001 Forester till he got t-boned by a cop. He bought it with the head gasket issue before we were married. He repaired the head gasket and replaced the transmission and it was good as new after that.

Your taxes, registration, and insurance will all continue to be cheaper than if you went for the Honda. I do agree with @TheThirstyStag about tires though. I moved from Southern California to Colorado Springs right before winter (and drive an 09 Corolla). After spinning out on the interstate, I got GOOD tires and never had another problem. Even on un-plowed roads in a snowstorm.

Get yourself a free badge of ownership while you're at it:

ETA: Driving a manual, you can kinda control your own MPG. My husband got pretty great MPG out of his Subaru.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2018, 12:10:58 PM by shelbyautumn »

Just Joe

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Re: Repair car or buy newer, lower mileage
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2018, 07:45:47 PM »
The subbie will likely be more comfortable out on the road if you travel with it. I've owned and loved alot of Hondas and the older, smaller examples are pretty buzzy out on the interstate.