When Is It Time to Get a New Car?

‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ pertaining to new cars can be hard to overcome as automakers are pumping out updated models on an annual basis. However, your current car might still have enough life to keep you on the road while also saving you money for the foreseeable future.

When You Should Keep Your Current Car

Consider this: The average age of a car in 2019 is at an all-time high of nearly 12 years, which means vehicles over the past decade are more reliable than ever. If your car is only a few years old but needs some work, it’s highly likely you’ll save money by paying for the necessary repairs and hanging onto it rather than upgrading because of the expenses you’ll incur from the overall cost of a new vehicle, as well as its added insurance cost and associated taxes.

If your motivation for a new car centers on improved fuel economy, keep in mind that you would need to be filling up quite often in order to save a substantial amount of money, especially with low current gas prices. In other words, don’t let added MPGs be the only thing that persuades you into leaving a functioning car behind if the financial impact is negligible.

But, obviously, nearly all cars will ultimately face their day of judgement. So, when does it make sense to start the car-buying process?

When You Should Get a New Car

A primary reason to consider buying a new car is reliability. All cars will inevitably require maintenance and repairs throughout their lives, but you may have reached a point where the added costs don’t make sense anymore.

To help you figure out whether this is the case, estimate how much money you’re putting into your car on a monthly basis, including payments, repairs, insurance and gas. Then, compare that number with the amount of money that a potential new car will cost, including payments, taxes, insurance and gas. If the costs of your current car are comparable or exceeds the costs of the new car then it’s probably time to upgrade. This is also true if your car simply spends more time in the shop than on the road.

Additionally, some older cars may be lacking in safety technology. If your car is missing any of these important safety features, then you should start researching newer models:

  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
  • Curtain Airbags
  • Rear-View Camera
  • Forward-Collision Warning
  • But these “must-haves” are just a few of many safety options available. Others include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Forward-Collision Warning with Automatic Braking
  • Rear-Collision Warning
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist
  • If you have the most necessary features but find that these would be integral in maximizing your awareness or improving a vehicle’s longevity by reducing accident potential, you might also want to consider a newer model.

    Similarly, cabin technology has greatly evolved throughout the 2010s, so consider what tech features you want and need to have in your car. Basic features, such as Bluetooth connectivity or GPS navigation, might be attainable via an affordable aftermarket product. On the other hand, more recent features, like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto or a 360° surround-view camera, will probably require a vehicle upgrade.

    Bottom Line: Consider Your Budget, the Costs and the Payoffs

    In deciding whether you need a new car, decide whether you can afford it, calculate how the new-car costs compare to the costs of keeping your current car and evaluate whether the new car’s additions provide enough value to make the upgrade worth pursuing.


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