A man made the decision to retire at age 62 because he had enough fixed income to meet his needs. At the time, his pickup truck was only 3 years old with 34,000 miles. A few years into his retirement, the transmission went out on his truck. To repair it, he had to dip into his limited savings. Since then, truck repairs have continued to “nickel and dime” him. Now, in his seventies, the man finds it harder to get in and out of the truck to drive. He knows a car would suit him better, but because of all the costly repairs, he doesn’t have the money to change vehicles. His friend recommends that he lease so he doesn’t have to worry about repairs, but the man is not sure if that is the right choice for him.
Although you can’t predict the future, assessing the year, fit, and performance of the car you drive — and how it aligns with your abilities now and as you age — is important.
Performance and Reliability of Your Current Vehicle
Routine car checkups (as referenced in your car model’s service schedule) and repairs (fixing a problem for it to be safe) are important for maintaining and getting the most out of your vehicle’s performance.
Dealership mechanics and independent auto-repair shops have pros and cons. Wherever you go, we suggest you:
- Ask if they have access to the car manufacturer’s latest Technical Service Bulletins (TSB).
- Check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been registered.
- Ask which of their recommended repairs are immediate needs to keep the car safe now versus repairs that can wait.
Only you can decide when the cost to maintain your vehicle becomes more than the value of it — or when its reliability becomes too much of a concern. For example, if the mechanic says you need new tires, but you plan to get a new car in a few months, you may want to hold off.
Engage in life: It’s important to have a financial plan in place for car repairs or replacement. And if you don’t know much about cars, consider taking time to educate yourself on car maintenance and repairs. You’ll be able to make more educated decisions that may save you money over time!
Should I Lease, Buy New or Buy Used?
Second to your home, your automobile is one of your most important budget items. When shopping for a car, there are pros and cons to buying new, buying used, or leasing. Here are some things to keep in mind through the process:
- As a general guideline, total car expenses should not exceed 20% of your take-home income. Typically, gas, auto insurance, and repairs fall within 5-10% of expenses. Car payments fall within an additional 10-15%.
- Shop around for financing and get pre-approved before going to the dealership. This gives you negotiating power. Credit unions and insurance companies often have the best rates on car loans.
- When you are at the car dealership, keep it simple: focus on the car’s purchase price first. Don’t tell the dealer you plan to trade in a vehicle or finance through the dealership while negotiating a price.
- How often do you use your vehicle? New cars average $35,000. If you only drive about 5,000 miles a year, you are paying a high dollar-per-mile rate. A used car might be a better option based on the cost and frequency of use.
Note, on average, people outlive their ability to safely drive by 8-10 years. Plan now to continue accessing the places you need and desire to go. Visit TroveStreet’s Explore Other Transportation Options section.
TroveStreet is Here to Help
Take advantage of our free TroveStreet Planning Tool, which you can access directly in your dashboard or download as a PDF. Want someone to walk you through it? Sign up for our Aging Navigation & Plan Creation package and a TroveStreet navigator will be by your side through the process.