I have always taken a very dim view of

what people say a vehicle is ‘worth’ on the open market. That price is much too dependent upon variables which are subjective – color, style, local availability, what else is “hot”, status, cosmetic dings, trim and accents, stereo, blah blah. I’m much more interested in two other items: how well any particular vehicle serves MY purposes for it, and what it would cost me to replace it with something that did the job just as well.

My current set of wheels is a 1985 Ford Ranger 4×4 pickup, which has been declared dead more times than I can count. We keep fixing it because I know the truck very well, I know its strengths and weaknesses, it serves me very well for what I need, I couldn’t care less whether it’s “stylish” or not, and it would cost me a LOT to replace it with something that did the job as well as it does. In the 12+ years I’ve had it, I have rebuilt the transmission, removed the computer and rebuilt the carburetor twice, replaced clutch twice, replaced brakes, and a whole long list of other items. At each of those junctures, someone tried to tell me it wasn’t worth replacing. Yet I spent LESS money on old parts than I would have if I’d replaced it with something newer, which inevitably would need newer (ie, more expensive) parts. All told I’ve spent less on that truck in the last 12 years than I would have if I had something 10 years newer.
Loan Finder – GovLoans.gov
Auto loans information at consumer finance.
So perhaps a useful exercise for you would be to see how much vehicle that $2400 could buy you, and if that new-to-you vehicle would have its own issues needing repair, and how confident you’d be in driving around someone else’s beater where you don’t know the history, the repairs already made or not made, etc. I have a hunch that $2400 won’t buy you very much, and whatever you bought would come with a brand new set of headaches.

Another useful exercise would be to see if you could shop around and see if you could lower that repair bill a little. Places like community colleges and even high schools often have vocational programs to train mechanics, and they fix local vehicles for less than the going shop rate. That will vary tremendously by location, but they’re out there and they don’t generally advertise. You have to seek them out. That might cut your repair bill by a sizeable amount.

On the other hand, if that vehicle doesn’t work for you very well even when it’s running (due to size or features or whatever), then yea go ahead and look at what it’ll cost to buy something which would work for you, minus the flashy trim and paint job and stereo and so on. Transportation is one of the four walls, so yes it’s appropriate to spend money to maintain what you have, or replace something which clearly isn’t working well for you. Whatever you decide, just try to be sure that your decision will strengthen your overall position, rather than set you back.

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