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Hi: My husband and I live in Canada, just across the border from Washington state. We have a 2004 Pontiac Vibe (built by Toyota) with 92,700 KM (about 68,000 miles) on it which we like, generally. It is going to need about $1200 in brakes and tires later this year, and the CD player is shot. Otherwise, it is fine, in great shape with no accidents, and never had any problems, although the gas mileage has always been about 5-6 MPG less than what it was rated for. We recently test drove the 2012 Toyota Matrix, which we like very much and can get for a net (after fees/taxes and selling the Vibe) of about $17 to $18 thousand, and it feels like a better car overall than our vibe. Problem is, our income has been very low (averaging about $25000 per year over the last few years and likely will not be any better this year). We spend more than I earn, but have savings we have been drawing from. I cannot work and my husband is sort of semi-retired, doing some consulting and teaching and still earning a little money through his business interests, and he is working on improving our income through other means, but he is not there yet. My dilemma is this: whether to get the new vehicle, or to drive the Vibe for another 5-10 years or until it quits, whichever comes first. We can get 3 years financing at 0% right now thru the dealer, despite the low income, but probably will not be able to get dealer financing down the road. A new and better vehicle seems pretty attractive now, particularly since it would look better on my husband re his image as a consultant/business person while he is still pursuing those things. What is your advice? Buy or hold?

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Cherie Watters, President of Sales and Marketing at AskPatty.com This is a tuff question we seem to get a lot, hold or buy. In General I say keep the car till it stops. In your case however, the age of the car does concern me, but the miles are low. What I do not like is the unexpected. Based on what you have said, you need to make sure your husband has a reliable transportation. I am not sure we can say the Vibe is reliable although you report no problems. If you have a person that you know can fix the car (the vibe) and can get parts quickly then ok, hold. But if it is a problem or difficult to get parts or you do not have a tech. well then that does make it harder. You seem to know what the expected costs are with the Vibe, however Zero % financing is hard to beat, especially on an inexpensive car. Seems you could get pretty good money for your vibe. Due to the low miles and the condition you reported. I think it is important to know what the dealer is offering you for the Vibe. As you indicated a new car would probably help with your husband's work. You will not have to worry about reliability, the Toyota is very reliable. But can you do the monthly payment? If you look at both autos over the next 12 months, which auto is going to cost your more to own? The factors to consider are; Monthly payment, insurance, fuel efficiency, expected maintenance. Maybe this will help you with your choice. Hope this helps, please keep us posted.

Patricia J Roberts, Director Business Development  at AskPatty.com, Inc. The best way to get this answer is to visit a New Car dealership. In fact you could visit several New Car dealerships to determine the value of your used vehicle, whether or not you can get financing, and what the new vehicle monthly payment would be. You would then need to do a comparison of cost of new vehicle ownership versus cost of your used vehicle ownership. As you have noted, as vehicles age they need more maintenance and costs increase.

Chris Walsh, Owner at Consolidated Automotive Services of indiana It sounds to me like you have thought this through and yes a Toyota Matrix is a very fine automobile. I think you are correct when you state that a newer vehicle represents success to potential customers. Enjoy your new car.

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