Why I Was Willing to Spend $1,500 to Fix a 13-Year-Old Car

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.


  • I spent $1,500 during the summer of 2020 to replace the battery in my then 13-year-old Prius.
  • That investment more than paid for itself in many ways.
  • New car payments are averaging more than $700 per month, and driving an older car can also help save on insurance costs.

The summer of 2020 was a tough one for my family for several reasons. For one thing, summer camp had been canceled due to COVID-19, leaving my kids to attend Camp Backyard while my husband and I held down our jobs. Plus, there was the whole worrying about catching COVID at the supermarket thing to deal with, which wasn't fun for anyone.

Adding to our not-so-awesome summer was the fact that the battery on our 2007 Prius decided to give out on us. The cost of a typical car battery is $100 to $200, according to J.D. Power. But this wasn't any old battery. It was a battery for a hybrid car. And so it didn't come as a shock when we were quoted $1,500 for a replacement battery.

At first, we weren't sure if we should spend the money. After all, the car was already 13 years old, and we couldn't be sure it would last much longer. But in the end, we spent the money, and it wound up being a really savvy choice.

When the numbers make sense

Bloomberg reports that the average new car payment these days is $717 a month. Back in the summer of 2020, we were quoted monthly car payments in the $500 range for the models we were interested in. (Remember, back then, auto loan rates weren't what they are today.)

When we ran the numbers, we realized that replacing the Prius battery made sense. We were looking at a $1,500 outlay, and we figured that if the car lasted three months after putting a new battery in, we'd break even by virtue of not making car payments for three months. If the Prius lasted longer than three months, we'd come out ahead.

Well, fast forward to May 2023, and lo and behold, the Prius is still hanging on. Granted, it's pretty much on its way out, and the not-so-great thing is that we probably have to replace it at some point in the next six months. That means we're going to be looking at even higher prices than we were back in 2020.

But if the Prius lasts through the summer, it means we'll have saved ourselves about $18,000 ($500 monthly payments x 36 months). And that's savings we can use to offset the costs we'll incur when we replace it.

Our old car likely saved us money on auto insurance, too

Putting money into our Prius and keeping it most likely made it so we were spending less on auto insurance these past three years. Car insurance companies take different factors into account when setting premium rates, and one factor is the value of a car and its components.

Because the Prius isn't worth a lot of money, it doesn't cost us a lot to insure. Once we have to replace it, we can bank on our auto insurance rates going up. That's something else we're going to have to save for, but at least we know to anticipate it.

All told, I'm ready to move on from the Prius. As you might imagine, certain problems tend to arise when you have a car that's practically old enough to vote. But I am glad we put that $1,500 into the car back in 2020, because we managed to extend the life of the Prius longer than originally expected.

Our best car insurance companies for 2024

Ready to shop for car insurance? Whether you’re focused on price, claims handling, or customer service, we've researched insurers nationwide to provide our best-in-class picks for car insurance coverage. Read our free expert review today to get started.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow