If you are a fan of all things automotive and would like to get into the holiday spirit, you should head over to YouTube and search for videos uploaded by families who filmed the reaction of their loved ones getting surprised with a car on Christmas morning. You may think that those television commercials showing a gleaming new car elegantly wrapped with a giant holiday ribbon are pretty neat, but those ads have nothing on the raw emotion of a young lady who never expected to see a cherry red Honda Fit on her driveway.
Gifting a car is certainly a grandiose holiday gesture, and there are financial incentives insofar as dealers being more likely to be in a bargaining mood in December; however, some financial planners do not think this is such a good idea. Wealthy spouses are known to give each other cars at Christmas, but that is largely because they know they will be able to afford them. Parents who gift cars to their children as they head off to college should consider the matter of registration, insurance and maintenance costs.
In many cases, it may be more sensible to help a family member with down payment cash towards buying a new car. A more sustainable and financially sound option would be to pass on a car and keep it in the family, and this is a situation that should prompt you to think about investing in maintenance and repairs. No one wants to inherit an old clunker for Christmas; the right thing to do when gifting a previously owned vehicle is to make sure it is in good condition.
Choosing Between Overhaul, Rebuild, Replacement, and Repairs
When preparing to gift an older car for Christmas, the sensible thing to do is to get expert opinions from technicians. You may think that the car will need an overhaul or some other kind of major work, but this is not always the case.
A car that has only received basic maintenance over 300,000 miles will likely need overhaul and replacement work not just on the engine but also transmission, emissions and electrical systems; this would not be a good candidate for a holiday gift. On the other hand, a Honda or Toyota with 100K on the odometer may not even need rebuilding. If the power plant is in good enough shape for the engine to remain on the block, the head and pistons can be removed for an easy and affordable rebuild.
In other cases, replacing engines and automatic transmissions may be a better option even if it costs more; this would greatly extend the functionality of the vehicle for years to come under warranty for the work performed.
An even better situation is when the car simply needs repairs and new parts; technicians will go beyond evaluating the overall condition of the car and inspect functionality of all systems. Since full repairs and installation of new parts may take a few days, you may want to start the process in November, particularly if you are also planning on getting the car in good cosmetic shape.
The Gift of Auto Repairs
Setting aside funds for repairs and presenting them for Christmas is a sensible gift idea, but it should be delivered with a certain amount of flair. If you would like to surprise your spouse with car repairs, you may want to write a nice note on a holiday card explaining your intentions, and you may want to add a clever touch such as placing the note inside a gift-wrapped toy car.
Naturally, your gift of auto repair should be more generous than utilitarian; this means allowing technicians to recommend the services needed to bring the car to the best shape possible. In other words, you do not want to limit the gift to a brake service just because the noise from the wear indicator is driving you crazy; you will want to also consider new tires, suspension and wheel alignment services.
In the end, auto repair services may not fit the description of traditional Christmas gifts, but they are thoughtful and will be appreciated under the right circumstances. Alternatively, you can also make comprehensive repairs a part of your New Year’s resolutions.