If you have an old car that often breaks down, you might end up in a situation where you need to choose between fixing it or purchasing a new car. In this article, we listed five important things that you should know when buying a car in order to help you make the right decision. Read below to find out.
Thinking about changing your car? Perhaps you’ve been wanting to swap that rust bucket with a swanky new sedan or maybe you’re looking for a bigger vehicle to accommodate your growing family, or perhaps your current car is no longer able to operate at its optimum level.
Whatever the reason may be, it is entirely normal to be eyeing for a new or newer car after an extended period of time.
Since buying a car will be one of the most important - and expensive - purchases that you will make, it is crucial that you take your time to do ample research to help you make the right decision.
How often should you change your car?
Our cars - like laptops and clothes - don’t last long, hence why their value depreciates over time. We don’t dispute that some cars, however, do last longer and can operate smoothly on the road even after a certain period of time, but some others may be forced off the road much earlier.
Though there isn't similar local research, a study conducted in the United States by IHS Markit reported that the average age of vehicles on the road is 11.9 years, which is relatively long. Does that mean most cars average out the same duration? Not exactly, but it does offer a benchmark to work off.
The longer lifespan can also be attributed to modern cars being more technologically-advanced, built with the goal to last. These cars also come with more reliable mechanical parts that are more durable, longer-lasting and efficient, in turn requiring less maintenance over the years.
Another source, automotive research firm and car search engine iSeeCars.com, shared that a new car is typically kept for an average of 8.4 years - SUVs were owned at an average of 8.3 years, while passenger cars (including sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons) were kept for an average of 8.4 years.
Based on our research, we also found that people often bought a car and kept it for at least three years before moving on to the next one because warranty for the original car would last about that duration. But do note that the warranty timeframe may also be based on a certain amount of mileage.
Our take: We recommend keeping and maintaining your car well for at least six years before trading it in.
But before you head over to your nearest dealer, figure out if you’ve done enough due diligence on your part: is your car still in good shape? Do you have the means to pay for a new car?
If you’re not entirely sure between replacing or repairing your car, here’s a checklist of things to be on the lookout for before changing cars.
Step 1: Determine the condition of the car
Since a new car should be more of a need than a want, it pays to really think about whether it makes more sense to repair versus replacing it.
One of the most reliable and easy ways to save money on a car is to drive it until it is no longer safe on the road. But there are a few other great tricks and tips:
- A good rule of thumb: a well-maintained car can hit past the 160,000 km mark on the odometer.
- Figure out if you are happy with your car. If your car causes you to be depressed or constantly unhappy then it may make sense for you to trade it in.
- How often do you use your car for long commutes? How many hours a day are you inside your car? These questions could be a great way to figure out if trading in is necessary.
Some people hold onto their current car because of the sentimental value. Perhaps it was your first car or the dream car you were finally able to purchase. If trading your car feels like giving up an old friend, then it won’t harm to reconsider.
Sometimes, however, there are real reasons why you should immediately replace your car. If you are constantly experiencing mid-driving breakdowns then it’s time to switch for a better car. Maybe you're tired of the constant trips to the repair shops every weekend. All in all, never compromise your safety for the sake of saving up on money.
Step 2: Be honest with yourself, is it a want or a need?
People usually change their cars due to practical reasons like a new addition to the family, or there is a need for a five-door as opposed to a three-door car, or because you need a car that is able to withstand heavy duty for work.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a car if it’s not a need, but assessing whether you have the capacity to buy and finance a car is what matters the most.
Step 3: Figure out the overall cost to replace your car
If maintaining your old banger was a problem for your wallet - then calculate how much you are paying in car repairs every single month, and compare that to the cost of a new car, taking into consideration the age and mileage of the car as well. This gives you a great overview of your cash flow.
Next, calculate your car’s depreciation rate, which is the difference between the price you originally paid versus the price that you could market it for if you were to sell it today. From what we gathered, depreciation impacts the value of a car the most, particularly in the first year after it’s manufactured. After five years, if the car is new, its value will likely have dropped to somewhere between 30% and 40%. Figuring these steps help you assess whether it makes more financial sense to just repair your old car rather than buy a new one.
Secondly, think of the financing. Whether your current car is paid off or not makes a big difference to your budget. If it’s the latter, you can take the value of the car off the purchase price of a new one. If you haven’t finished paying off the loan, then you will have to transfer the car loan to another person since you will be transferring the ownership of the vehicle. This is a step that you need to manage as well.
Lastly, do the math to get your overall cost. Remember that your car’s total price is more than just the sticker price you see online or at the dealer; it will also include other things like title and registration fees, sales tax, optional items like extended warranties, as well as day-to-day or monthly costs like fuel, insurance, and the maintenance.
Step 4: Weigh the pros and cons of selling privately versus selling to a dealer
Okay, you have decided to sell your car. What are your options and where do you go? Generally, you have two options: sell it privately (by yourself) or to a dealer or to a used car-buying company. All three have their selling points and there’s no right or wrong answer, just a matter of preference.
Selling the car yourself
The obvious pro of selling your car yourself is being in a better position to settle on a good retail price. If you had a very specific price in mind, this method works for you. Selling to a dealer or used car-buying company won’t give you the same flexibility because they will sell it at a wholesale price.
The main downside - though not for everyone - is you’ll need to be in charge of all of the leg work yourself. It’s taxing for some, but some others want to have the liberty to be in control of the entire process, which could include things like posting the ad for the sale online, creating the classified ad, and dealing with people - through what could feel like endless phone calls, emails and appointments. The flipside is if you aren't able to close a deal, then you’ll need to up your marketing game in order to sell the car off which can be equally taxing as well.
Selling the car to a dealer
The advantage of selling to a dealer is it can potentially be faster. You get to deal with less paperwork, admin and people (which happens to be a problem for many). The caveat is you’ll need to work with a trusted entity to ensure the entire process runs smoothly.
The downside is if you want more control over the cost and price you might find yourself constantly haggling with a company. Most likely situation is they won’t budget and you are forced to go on the lower end, wholesale price.
Selling to a used car-buying service
This may be the fastest and hassle-free way to sell your car. Because the service buys used-cars, you could get a better deal if you did your homework well: conducting market comparison and avoiding hidden fees. However, this may not necessarily guarantee the best price.
Step 5: You are committed to the whole process of buying a new (or newer) car
Part of the process is narrowing down your choices to a few main criteria: cost, make and model, car size and resale value. It’s also about figuring out the finances and the budget you’re working with.
Though we won’t go too deep into it, generally you should research the car you’re interested in and its features, and mull over the different car loan and insurance options. By the way, if you’re on the lookout, you can apply for car insurance on our website and stand the chance to win great rewards!
You also need to plan your trade-in process because it’s not a go-with-the-flow type of process. Get in touch with a trusted dealer and start a conversation on the next steps.
Once you have narrowed down your choices, it’s time to get your negotiation skills on. Not all dealers allow negotiation as some have disclaimers prohibiting that, but if there isn’t, you should at least try to negotiate for a slight discount. This is also the stage where you need to iron out your warranty, and take the car out for a test drive.
If you’re happy with the car, review the deal and the financing agreements, and voila, time to close the deal and have the car delivered to you.
Along the way you may stumble here and there, which is fine - it happens to even the most seasoned buyers - but if you need extra tips on how to avoid potential blunders, check this piece we recently wrote.
Swapping an old sedan for a new SUV is exciting, but always ensure it makes financial sense
Whether it is a new or used car, buying a car is a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Similarly, changing your car is equally as important and is one that requires lengthy deliberation and consideration. Don’t jump the gun despite how tempting it may be to get a new car.
We hope you found this article helpful!
Whether you are a first-time or seasoned buyer, the process of buying a car can be complicated if you don’t know the industry that well. The #BreakingItDown series is all about addressing this problem. Stay tuned for more content.