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Car breakdowns: when is it better to sell rather than repair?

By Swati Oct 21, 2022
Young handsome Caucasian man had a car breakdown and calling roadside assistance.

Certain technical problems sooner or later arise in every car. But there are cases of critical failure of the main components of the car, including due to accidents, the restoration of which can cost the owner too much. The amount can be so large that he will have to make a difficult decision: to spend money on repairs or just sell the problematic car and buy a new one. In this article, we will consider when it is better to sell the car rather than repair it. You can also use a total loss vehicle calculator of JunkCarUs to estimate the condition of your vehicle.

Five components of a car which repair may not be effective


In modern cars, there are two of the most problematic components, the repair of which may not make sense. This is a body deformed in an accident or “killed” by corrosion and all of its electrical parts that have been in the water. But, let’s consider all weak components.

Geometry failure and body corrosion


It should immediately be noted that we are talking about load-bearing bodies of passenger cars. For example, in most SUVs, the frame is the supporting base. All other elements are attached to it, they are easy to replace. The frame can also be separated from the rest of the structure. This makes it possible to eliminate even sufficiently strong mechanical damage and deformations, as well as to strengthen or replace areas severely damaged by corrosion by welding.


The integrated load-bearing body of a passenger car is much more difficult to repair. After a moderate accident, such a body is still possible to straighten and “stretch” some of its sections. But the consequences of more serious accidents often do not allow to fully restore the geometry of the body. Separate changes will remain and will entail problems of controllability and safety of car operation, increase fuel consumption and accelerate tire wear.


Another serious threat is corrosion. Manufacturers assure that they make bodies from high-quality steel, and after welding, they apply protective coatings on them. But centers of corrosion on modern cars can be seen 3-4 years after purchase, and in a car that has been in an accident, all these processes are accelerated many times over. 


Experts say that there are several levels of corrosive destruction of a car:


  1. Rust at the site of damage. Destruction appears in places of chips or scratches in the body paint layer. Negative consequences can be prevented.


  1. Rust under the protective coating. Destruction develops as a result of poor adhesion of the paint layer to the metal surface. Among the reasons are poor quality painting, and prolonged exposure of the vehicle in the open air at high humidity. You can avoid negative consequences by replacing the coating.


  1. Corrosion in areas with bad ventilation. Among the vulnerable areas of the car are doorways, front fender pockets, and areas above the wheels. That is, these are the places where dirt and moisture easily accumulate. Special work is needed to solve these problems.


  1. Corrosion on power sections. As a rule, this is a problem with front-wheel drive cars. This is a serious problem, even specialists can not always completely get rid of the defect, and such repairs will require a lot of money.


Experts are unanimous in their opinion: if the car has been in a serious accident that violated the geometry of the body, then it is better to sell it for spare parts.

Critical wear or engine breakage


An engine overhaul is approaching, and is it already reminding you of itself with fallen compression, oil leaks, and interruptions in operation? The overhaul of a worn power unit is a very expensive procedure, so many car owners decide to leave this occupation to the new owner of their car. They choose to lose some money when selling a car with a problem engine than to invest in repairs.


By the way, buying a used power unit is also not the best way out, since its real state may also not be very good.

Defective automatic transmission


There is an opinion that an automatic transmission damaged due to an insufficient level of the working fluid cannot be restored, however, car service masters say the opposite. But the price of such a repair will be quite high, and further performance will be unpredictable. The option of buying a new automatic transmission is associated with even greater investments, and in the case of a used car, it is most often not economically justified. It is better to change the car.

Electrical problems


The practice shows that in cars that have been in the water, there are global problems with electricity and electronics. It is almost impossible to completely replace all the wiring and electronic components in such a car, and it is unlikely that an honest auto electrician will undertake this. Therefore, if the fact of “temporary drowning” of the car really took place, then it is better to immediately sell it for spare parts. And do not try to sell such a car on the go, hiding the true reason for your decision.

HV battery capacity loss


Vehicles that have an electric motor and a gasoline engine have one unpleasant feature: if the battery of such a car is dead, then replacing it is a very expensive task.


Sometimes the battery can be revived by replacing damaged cells, but in most cases, it still seems more appropriate to replace the entire car.

Final thoughts


So, if you own a car that has at least one of the listed problems with the body, engine, automatic transmission, or power supply system, it is really better to sell it. Repairs will cost too much, or will not lead to the desired result at all. JunkCarsUs can help you quickly and profitably sell the car, regardless of its condition.


By Swati

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