Is it cheaper to buy a new car or keep the one I'm driving.


Asked by Apr 07, 2015 at 11:13 AM about the 2004 Ford Explorer XLS V6 AWD

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

It's early 2015 and I bought my 04 Explorer used with 20,000 miles on it. It's always
run good and currently has 140,000 miles on it. I've averaged around 12,000 miles a

The maintenance costs have been predictable over the years. I follow the dealer
recommendations for oil/fluid/filter changes and this basic maintenance is done at my
local Jiffy Lube. This basic maintenance might run about $300 a year.

Then there is the more expensive maintenance like brakes or the occasional
steering/suspension/alternator/exhaust component. This more costly maintenance
usually runs around $1,000 to $1,500 a year.

This more costly maintenance is done at a local gas station repair shop that's near my
office. The parts are easy to get and the repairs are completed while I'm at work.

So the total maintenance cost on my 2004 Explorer (from late 2004 through current -
about 10 years) has range from $100 a month in the early years up to $150 a month in
the more recent years of ownership. In the future (say ownership years 11 through 15),
I think that the maintenance cost might edge up to $200 a month.

Gas costs are as follows: 18 miles per gallon and $2.70 per gallon for gas. That's 15
cents a mile. My insurance is 10 cents a mile.

So, the cost of my 2004 Ford Explorer that's driven 1000 miles per month:
Maintenance (all inclusive): 15 cents per mile.
Gas: 15 cents per mile.
Insurance: 10 cents per mile.

Add it all up (maintenance, insurance, gas) and it comes to 40 cents per mile. I drive
1000 miles a month, so those costs come to $400 a month.

6 Answers


As your Explorer ages the cost for upkeep will increase. Things are going to wear out and break. Sooner or later it will start to "nickel and dime" you. You'll have to keep insurance coverage on whatever you drive and the cost to insure a newer vehicle is higher because it's worth more. But a newer vehicle will probably be more fuel efficient so gas will cost less. On a new vehicle repairs will be free and covered under warranty. Hopefully there won't be any, but just in case. If they have to keep your new car you get a free loaner. If you continue taking good care of your Explorer it can probably go another 100,000 miles. But if it starts giving you trouble I'd trade it in. We either have a car payment or repair bills. HTH. -Jim

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Well put Jim. One or the other. What caught my attention is 12,000 miles/year @10¢ mile = $1200 a year for insurance. Even with full comprehensive/collision/un-under - insured and the highest $300,000 liability that seems terribly high for an 11 year old Explorer.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

--- What caught my attention is 12,000 miles/year @10¢ mile = $1200 a year for insurance. --- Yes, my insurance is high. Not sure why, I keep meaning to check around for a better price.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

My sister has 2004 Dodge Durango, AWD a bit smaller but comparable. We both are firm believers on carrying a lot of insurance, and in Calif where rates are high compared to other areas, and she pays $900/year for full coverage at the highest liability, and just about everything offered, and both of us carry a $250 deductible

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Your particular circumstance comes into play because you have to pay for maintenance and repair including labor, which is a big ticket. My oldest explorer is a 96, then there is a 99 and a 2003 which my children now possess. Their maintenance cost is low because I can do all of the repairs so far, including completely rebuilding suspension repair, brakes, etc. Fortunately the AC's are still holding out and no engine or tranny work required. If you could knock out the labor cost you would probably lean toward keeping the vehicle. Also keep in mind if you purchase a new or newer vehicle your insurance costs may go up as a result.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
Jeremiah Starke

Your good maintenance habits can only push your luck so far. In my case my 99 explorer's engine and tranny croaked within 3k miles of eachother from normal wear and tear at around 200k miles. The v6 SOHC engines on 1996-2001 explorers are known timing vulnerabilities which i fell victim to they basically cost as much as an engine is to replace because of the meticulous pabor involved. Thankfully for explorer owners theres a huge supply of used engines and transmissions lying around from people who junked their explorers so the notion of being nickle and dimed was not as bad as i envisioned it. However if you dont have much experience like I did of doing your own repairs you are at the mercy of the garages who like to gouge people on the more major repairs such as tranny and engine work. My major overall of those two components cost me 2k for used engine and 1.7k for used tranny both have a mileage of 70k which wasnt too bad. So the lesson to be learned here is that u may end up spending as much on repairing your 10-15 year old explorer as buying a used 7 year explorer. Obviously if u want to consider buying a new explorer alltogether u will always be spending more money in he longrun as there is no breakeven in owning a car. As to which route to chose the new or newer car route will only give another 10 year grace period from the headaches of owning and old car. On the otherhand if u decide to jeep your junker the seemingly endlessly dark tunnel of paying to overhaul your aging car will eventually end and the net yearly costs will undercut owning a newer car because of the low insurance costs and title cost. The other great benefit of owning an old car is that you are more onowledgable of its quirks which make maintenance less of a guessing game with newer cars. However if you factor in the cost of time being without your car during its repairs as well as he anxiety it causes the opportunity cost of a newer car will win out. So pick your poision suffer through repairs now or later its up to you and what your priorities are. Older cars are cheaper but waste more of your life but newer cars cost more and give u more peace of mind to do other things.

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