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Is it worth repairing an older car?

Maria McCarthy / 31 March 2016

When it is time to stop repairing an old car that has broken down or failed its MOT and what are your options when getting rid of an older vehicle?

Old cars beyond repair that have been scrapped
When should you cut your losses and stop repairing an old car?

When an older car breaks down or goes in for its MOT or service, it can be a nerve-racking time. 

Will it be easy and inexpensive to carry out any necessary repairs? Or are they going to cost so much that you're left wondering whether it's worth forking out to keep your elderly motor going, or whether it would be a case of 'throwing good money after bad?'

Read our tips for handling a breakdown.

Find a reliable garage

This is where having a trustworthy mechanic comes in so useful. It's worth the effort to find a garage you can rely on and mechanics that take the time to get to know you and your car. 

They can advise you on whether the repairs are likely to be relatively straightforward – replacing tyres, windscreen wipers and exhausts generally fit into this category. And they can also break the sad news that issues, such as corrosion, ABS braking repairs, steering rack wear, leaks from power steering components and catalytic converter problems, might mean that it's time to say goodbye.

A good mechanic will also be able to flag up if there might be other problems that need fixing in the near future. For example if the tyres are fine at the moment, but are showing the sort of wear that means they'll need replacing in a few month's time. 

So both the current state of the car and the ways in which it might deteriorate need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to cut your losses.

What is that banging noise? Our guide to the symptoms of common car issues.

Forget emotional attachments

"We spent £550 on a Y reg Nissan Almera  5 years ago." says Juliet Shaw, a communications consultant from Manchester. "It needed £200 for a new tyre and repairs to the suspension two years ago and getting it through its MoT has been up to £100. 

"It's not much to look at but last summer it took my daughter and I on a 3,000 mile road trip round Europe."

She explains: "For me, having a garage that I trust has been key in deciding whether or not to spend money on repairs. The car is due for another MOT in April. If any minor problems come up I'll pay to get it through, but anything more serious and I'll scrap it. Either way, I certainly feel we've had our money's worth out of it!"

For older cars it's a good idea to have a joint repairs/newer car savings fund – so that you've got the ready cash to either patch up your current car or buy another.

Six ways to beat MOT stress.

What are your options if it's time to say goodbye?

If you decide that it's no longer worth repairing your older car, then what's the next step? 

You could sell it on or offer it as part exchange for a newer vehicle. 

If the car has failed its MoT or has faults, such as worn tyres, which mean it's not roadworthy then the situation is trickier. You'll need to bear in mind it will be illegal to drive the vehicle on the public road and that your insurance will be invalidated, so getting it home from the garage would be problematic. 

One option would be to recycle your car via a company such as  By entering the registration number and the postcode you would like  the car to be collected from on the website, you'll get an instant online quote for your vehicle. They can even collect it direct from the garage  

The average currently paid for a scrap car is £45 but it can be significantly more for certain makes and models. This could also be a good option if you'd rather avoid the hassles that can come with organising a private sale.

Eight steps to safely scrapping your car.

For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

With cover ranging from roadside assistance to a rescue and recovery from 44 countries across the EU and beyond Saga Breakdown Assistance is worth considering. To find out more click here.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.