I don’t blame you for driving your car as long as possible. Drivers who hold onto their car for 100,000, 200,000, or even 300,000 miles tend to be better off financially than people who “trade up” constantly. Loan payments aren’t cheap! Even so, there comes a day when it’s best to part ways. Here are eight signs you need to buy a new car. I’ll also share three actionable tips that will help you kick-start your new car search immediately.

Note: By new, I mean “new to you.” If you’d rather buy a used car, that’s absolutely okay! 🙂

1. Breakdowns are a common event.

Everyone breaks down at some point. If you drive enough, it’s bound to happen. No big deal! However, breakdowns are a big deal when they become a constant thing.

You shouldn’t be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on emergency repairs every few months. Do the math. If you could have made a down-payment with the amount you’ve spent on maintenance this year, then it might be time to invest in a new set of wheels.

Understand: I’m not concerned with minor stuff like replacing a wiper blade, air filter, or even an oxygen sensor. It’d be silly to trade vehicles over something so tiny. I’m talking about repairs of more significant auto parts like your engine, transmission, and exhaust system.

Let’s not forget the mental aspect. It’s stressful to worry about how your car might crap out at any given moment. When your car becomes so undependable that it breaks down every few months (or weeks), you have a legitimate fear. Buy a new car to save yourself from the stress.

2. Your car doesn’t feel safe anymore.

Has your car ever slowed down or come to a sudden stop while you were on the Interstate? Hopefully not! It’s a horrifying experience. If that ever happens, you better hope the driver behind you is paying attention.

If you have two or more incidents like this, it might be time to trade up. Traffic accidents are one of the most common causes of death in the U.S. Driving an unsafe car raises your risk substantially. If your life is at stake, this is a no-brainer. Buy a new car as soon as you can.

3. You’re afraid your car will get you fired.

Most employers are understanding. If you’re late due to a car breakdown, they’ll deal with it. How could you control such a thing? There’s no way!

That said, there is a breaking point. If you’re late due to a car breakdown on three separate occasions, they’ll decide you’re unreliable. Unfair? Maybe, but your car is an extension of you. If it’s “unreliable,” so are you.

The same reasoning applies to other aspects of life. You should be able to pick up your kids, visit your family, take road trips, run errands, and etc. without thinking: “Will my car make it?” Buy a new car so you can do the things you need to do.

4. No one ever accepts your offer to drive.

A lot of people buy a new car for the wrong reasons. They treat it like a status symbol. I guess that’s okay if you’ve got the budget, but it seems so vain.

That said, it’s important to feel good about your car… and it’s hard to feel good when nobody wants to ride anywhere with you. If none of your passengers feel safe or comfortable – or you can’t even find a passenger, no matter how hard you try – then it’s time to buy a new car.

5. Your life situation just changed in a major way.

“The only constant is change,” as Heraclitus said.

I used to drive a small car. It made sense at the time, but then I got married and had children. We needed an SUV to seat everybody comfortably.

You could outgrow your car for many reasons. Maybe you got into camping or boating and need a big truck to haul your supplies. Maybe you had kids and need a minivan to fit them all. Maybe you changed jobs, have a longer commute, and want a more fuel efficient vehicle.

Whether your life situation has changed or not, be mindful of what you expect from your car. Cars should easily fit into the story of your life. Make sure your car is appropriate for your job, family, hobbies, and any other aspects of life that matter to you. This is extremely important!

6. The same repair comes up over and over again.

Your car breaks down. You go to the mechanic. He does the repair and gets you back on the road. A few days later, your car breaks down again.

Your mechanic shrugs and says: “I’m sorry. Why don’t you go see my mentor? He’s been doing this for decades!” You go to that mechanic and let him (or her) give it a try.

Your car runs fine for a few days until it breaks down yet again. You go back to the mechanic, who gets frustrated, because your car is having the exact same problem. What’s going on?

When you find yourself in a situation like this, it is best to count your losses and move on. Cars are like people. They aren’t meant to live forever. If you spend any more money, it will probably be a waste. Buy a new car, because there’s no way to resurrect your old one.

7. Your car couldn’t possibly pass an emissions test.

Emission standards have been on the rise for years. If your car releases a certain amount of pollutants in the atmosphere, it’s not fit to drive.

Newer cars emit less toxic fumes than old ones, because automotive technology has grown in a major way. To pass an emissions test, you might have to invest in expensive parts.

Consider the cost. If your old car doesn’t have many years left, it might make more sense to buy a new one. As an added bonus, your fuel economy will probably skyrocket. That’s a plus!

8. The repair costs more money than your car is worth.

This is the most obvious reason to buy a new car. If you’ve gotta spend $3,000 to replace your engine (but the car is only worth $1,500), then you might as well call it quits.

Are any of these signs true for you? If so, it might be time to buy a new (to you) car! Here are three tips to help you begin your car search on solid ground.

1. Decide how much you’re willing to spend.

It’s dangerous to look for a car before you’ve made a budget. You might get talked into an emotional decision that you’ll regret later. Save yourself some trouble by deciding how much you can afford before you visit any car dealers.

How much should you spend? There’s no “law” or “rule” that can provide an exact answer for every driver. It depends on your financial situation. Here’s an online calculator to provide you with a shove in the right direction. Write down your answers and keep that information nearby!

2. Determine what you’re looking for in a car.

Convertibles look nice, but they’re not functional unless you live in a consistently hot climate. Motorcycles are cool, but they’re not ideal when you’ve got a big family to drive around town.

The most important aspects to consider are family size, driving habits, and hobbies/leisure. Point #1 is obvious enough. If you’ve got a partner and kids, they will need somewhere to sit!

Point #2 is especially important for people who drive a lot. If you want to spare yourself from some pain at the pump, choose a car with superb fuel economy. Here’s a list of good options.

Point #3 is less obvious, so I’ll elaborate. City dwellers who rarely leave town might opt for a small car. People who go off-roading in the country might be better served by a truck or SUV.

No matter what you do, understand all vehicles are not created equally. You need to figure out what type of car makes the most sense in your life. Reflect about that until you feel confident!

3. Do your homework before you visit a dealer.

It’s never been easier to avoid rip-offs. Websites like Edmunds and TrueCar allow you to find out how much people are paying for the same vehicle in your hometown. Don’t walk into a price negotiation without this information!

Does the thought of dealing with a car salesman make you shudder? I can’t say I blame you. It can be a hassle! That’s okay. You can buy a car without even leaving your house. Seriously! Options include Cars.com, Carvana, and AutoTempest.

Are any of these signs you need to buy a new car true for you? If so: make a budget, determine your needs, do your homework, and get to work! Your dream car won’t find itself.

If you dig this article, share it with your friends so they can save time and trouble. Note the links below for more car shopping tips!

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