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Is It Time For A New Car?

How To Know When You Should Buy A New Car

buying a new car

Photo by Anthony Shkraba

Are you looking to buy a new car? Maybe, maybe not, but at some point, you’ll have to think about it. How do you know when it’s time to buy a new car? The car lots will tell you now is the time, but they have an incentive: if you buy a new car, it’s money for them. If you really want to know when the right time is, you should look at how much it’s costing you, and how much a new car would improve your situation. It’s rarely as straightforward as you’d think. Here’s what you need to consider.

1. A Repair Bill Doesn’t Mean An Old Car is No Good

At some point, the repair bills on an old car will start to outweigh the value of the car. That doesn’t mean a single repair bill on an old car means it’s time to throw it out. All cars will require a certain amount of maintenance. The amount of miles you drive in a year will determine the average cost of maintenance. The exact number varies depending how hard you drive it (off-road driving is going to cause more wear and tear, for example), but you can expect maintenance costs of any car to come to about 9 cents per mile driven for normal roads.

This maintenance is critical to getting the best life out of your car. If you keep up on it, you can get a really good lifespan out of it. I myself am driving a car that’s nearing 20 years old and it still drives like a dream. If the costs of repairs are below that amount, then it’s acceptable.

2. Will Maintenance Costs Be More Expensive?

vehicle maintenanceAccording to SE Performance, a mechanic in Logan, Utah, certain car features can make repairs more difficult and expensive. Modern cars have a lot of digital features tied to the car’s onboard computer. This means repairs become more difficult, as the mechanic has to deal with a lot more electrical engineering. Some of these features can cause the car to stop working even when nothing is wrong, simply because a sensor goes out and trips a safety feature that prevents the car from driving. These features are meant to keep you from doing more damage to the engine, but when the problem is simply with the sensor, this becomes a hassle.

As these features become more common in cars, it will be unavoidable, but if your car still runs just fine, the ease of repairs might just make it worth it to keep an old one for a few more years.

3. Does It Still Get You From Point A to Point B?

The purpose of a car is to get you places. When considering if you should buy a new car, you should think about how well your current car does that. If it breaks down a lot, even if the repairs to get it back on the road are cheap, it’s not doing it’s job very well. On the other hand, if it still gets you everywhere you need to go on time and without trouble, it’s probably worth it to keep it for at least a year or two more.

4. How Safe Is Your Old Car?

This is a big one. Technology is always moving forward and that means new safety features. Does your old car have good safety features? If your car is old enough that it doesn’t have an airbag, you should probably get a new one. If it’s so old it doesn’t have seat belts, congrats on keeping a classic car in that good of condition, but you should really be saving it for car shows. If your car is up to date on the safety features, though, you don’t need to worry about this when considering whether or not to get a new one.

5. What Will The Payments on the New Car Cost?

This is something a lot of people leave out of the arithmetic. Yes, having to cover extra maintenance bills a year is a bit of an extra cost, but is that more monthly payments on a new car would add up to? Before you buy a new car, you should look into what your monthly payments on it will be and compare that to how much you’re paying to keep your current car in good condition. If the old car’s bills are lower, it might be a good idea to keep it.

gas prices6. Is Gas Mileage Better On The New Car? Does It Add Up To Better Savings?

Gas is always expensive and that’s why we’re always looking at the gas mileage of our vehicles. As we keep advancing technology, we keep finding ways to make them more efficient, using less gas per mile. It’s become a major factor in deciding when to get a new car and it should be, but only if the gas mileage is significantly better. A slight increase in gas mileage is not worth a new car if it doesn’t outweigh the other costs of a new car.

7. What Is the Market for New Cars?

Whether buying a completely new car, or a used one, the cost of buying a new car is effected by many market factors. Currently, the Covid-19 outbreak has put a dent in the supply of cars on the market, so the price is pretty high. This should level over time, but it does mean that in many places around the US, buying a new car is expensive. There might not even be a better car on the market for you to buy. Before you buy a new car, you should find out what the current prices are to see if you can get one for a good price.

Look At Everything Before You Decide To Buy a New Car

It’s never straightforward when deciding if it’s a good idea to buy a new car. There are so many factors that determine whether your current car is still good. A single repair bill doesn’t mean the car should be scrapped. You have to weigh the costs of the old car and its efficiency against the costs of a new one. Holding onto your current car for a few more years might save you a lot of money, even with increased maintenance costs. Don’t forget to consider increased insurance costs for a new car as well.

That said, don’t be afraid to get a new car if you do need one. We can become overly attached to cars for emotional reasons and that can make us cling to a car longer than we should. Sometimes, your old car just isn’t going to work for you. Its safety features might be too outdated, it might break down too much for it to be convenient, or gas mileage  on a new car might justify the change.

The factors that determine whether a new car is worth it or not are mostly mathematical. You can compare the costs of your current car with the costs of a new one. Be sure that you weigh them against each other before you make a decision.