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How do you decide when to trade in a car? I bought a used 2002 Chevy Malibu a year ago with 35K on it, thinking it was a pretty good deal at around $9000. I've since put well over $1500 in it, even with an extended warranty covering many items that have broken or needed replacing. I feel like it's a lemon; should I hang in with it since I've spent so much, or just bite the bullet and trade it? It now has 42.5K miles. I would have to find an almost even trade, since I couldn't get another car loan.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amy Mattinat, Owner and Author at Auto Craftsmen Ltd Hi Debbie, Most used cars need repairs or maintenance service right after you purchase them. So your $1,500 may be the amount you needed to spend to make the vehicle safe and reliable. I would suggest you take your Malibu to your mechanic and ask them to give it a thorough inspection to decide if it is a good car or a lemon. It will cost you somewhere around $100 dollars to give them enough time to really look it over. Ask them for a list of anything that looks like it will need to be replaced sooner then later, and an estimate to do the work. Also, you want a list of any services it will need and an estimate of the cost. This will help you to make an informed decision. If you decide to trade it in, you will have to look for vehicles around $7000, because the dealer will only give you a trade-in allowance on your Malibu. They can't buy it and sell it at $9000 and make any money. The $7000 vehicle you trade for will then need about $1500 dollars worth of repairs and service to make it safe and reliable and your back to spending lots of money on your car. Best of Luck, Amy Mattinat

Patty Streeter,  at AskPatty.com Debbie, Check out our expert's answer!

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