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5 Signs It's Time to Buy a New Car

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Nothing lasts forever in this world, not even your beloved car. No matter how good you take care of it, it will eventually get old and worn out.

The average life of a vehicle is eight years or 241,401 kilometres while some well-built and highly maintained models can last for 15 years or 482,803 kilometres.

Before finally bidding adieu to your road partner, however, there are telltale signs that will help you know if fighting for your car’s life is no longer sensible.

Five of these include:

1. The cost of repair is more than the value of the vehicle

We’re talking about the car’s depreciated value here. We all know that a car’s value depreciates by 9 to 11% the moment it’s driven off the lot. In one year, its worth would be about 20% less than its driveaway price. After the first year, it would depreciate by 15 to 25% every year until it hits the five-year mark. After this, the new car would lose around 60% of its value.

As the car’s value depreciates, the repairs would become more frequent and extensive. When paying to repair an old car is getting expensive and you are unlikely to see a decent return on your investment in the car, it is time to send that old car that has been so reliable over the years to the scrap yard.

For instance, if you need to spend $2,000 for an engine repair, and the car is only worth $500, then it would be foolish to pay to have the vehicle fixed.

You can do the “tyre test” on your old car. When it comes time to put new tyres on the vehicle, ask yourself if the car is worth the cost of a new set of tyres. If the answer is “no”, then you should head out to buy a new car. This test of whether it is time to buy a different car is a practical one and comes down to dollars and cents.

2. It keeps breaking down or malfunctioning on the road

The occasional breakdown on an older vehicle should be expected, and paying for needed repairs every once in a while is reasonable. However, when a car starts breaking down with increasing frequency, it is likely time to start thinking about getting another vehicle.

As a general rule, you don’t want to experience more than two breakdowns a year. And by breakdown, we mean incidents that prevent the car from being driven and require major, costly repairs. We’re not talking about having to replace the windshield wiper blades or the air filter. We’re talking about replacing radiators, exhaust systems, and fixing major engine malfunctions. If you get to a point where your car is breaking down every two, three or four months, then you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.

With breakdowns also comes safety issues. No matter how well maintained your car is, eventually it will become unsafe to operate. Not only will the car become unreliable and prone to breaking down at dangerous times, such as when you’re driving on a highway, but older cars do not have many of the advanced safety features that are found in newer model cars.

Safety features like side airbags, electronic stability control, rearview cameras, blind-spot monitoring and forward collision alert worn out over time. While these advanced safety features are optional and not necessary, it can also be argued that a car that is so old the muffler falls off should not be driven at all. If you, or the passengers in your car, have a general feeling of uneasiness when in your vehicle than it is time for an upgrade.

3. The car’s interior is worn out

When the interior of the car so worn that you are ashamed to have guests ride in your car, or they are ashamed ride with you, then it may be time to say goodbye. A vehicle that is rusted on the outside with torn fabric interior, a hole on the floor, broken window handles, is no longer “cool” to own.

If the inside of the vehicle is falling to pieces, you have on your hands a prime contender for admission to a salvage yard. Are there holes in the floor? Is the fabric all torn and ripped? Is the sunroof leaking water? Knobs falling off? These are all serious questions that you need to ask yourself if you have an old machine.

An old car that is well past its used-by date is “rust bucket.” If your loved ones tell you that they are ashamed to be seen in your vehicle, it is time to kick it to the proverbial curb.

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4. Its fuel efficiency has decreased

The older the car, the less fuel-efficient it will be. Each year, a new crop of cars come out and each one is a little more fuel-efficient than the previous year’s models. If you’re driving a car you bought in the early or mid-1990s, chances are you’re spending a lot more time at the gas station than your neighbour who’s driving a 2015 Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrid.

And while you might not be making payments on your car any longer, all those trips to the gas pumps add up in terms of costs to operate the vehicle. It depends on how many miles you drive a week. But if you find yourself at a gas station more than two times each week, then you’re spending too much money on gas and should consider upgrading to a vehicle built in this decade.

5. The car fails the emission tests

A clear sign that your car is outdated is when it will no longer pass environmental emissions tests. Newer vehicles have been built with various “drive clean” technologies that make the emissions coming from the tailpipe better for the environment and atmosphere. Older model cars do not have these technologies and many will not pass emissions tests that are required when motorists renew their license plates.

Some drivers have to spend a lot of money having new technology added to their vehicle just to get it to pass an emissions test. And, depending on the age of the car, some vehicles will not even be allowed to take an emissions test. If this happens to you, then you may want to consider replacing your car rather than shelling out big bucks to get it to drive cleaner.

With climate change being a hot button issue, the auto industry is taking action. New cars have technologies built-in that are specially designed to curb the number of harmful emissions that they release. Older vehicles don’t have such tech, and as a result, they fail emission tests. Instead of spending large amounts of money to make your car pass these tests, it is more pragmatic to simply purchase a new one and dispose of the old.

The Advantage of Knowing When to Let Go

Financial experts believe that people who hold onto their car for a long time without payments are on top of their finances. However, even the most financially advanced among us will eventually need to dispatch their vehicle as it becomes impractical to drive and maintain.

Knowing how long you can expect a vehicle to last can be helpful for a variety of reasons. This can help to determine how long to keep a car, when to start shopping for a new car, and what value to expect when selling.

This can be extremely helpful if you’re getting ready to invest a lot of money in repairs. Making repairs to an older car that is losing value may not make sense.

This is especially the case if, depending on your vehicle’s mileage, your car may be on the brink of even more issues. There’s no use spending money to repair a car that’s junk.

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