When You Know it’s Time to Say Goodbye to Your Car

When it comes to trading in your vehicle for something new, car owners tend to fall into one of two extremes.

You’ve got the folks who are always looking out for the hottest, newest release, ready to trade in their current vehicle at the drop of the hat to get behind the wheel of something cutting-edge. And then you’ve got the ultra-frugal who will drive the same car until the wheels fall off — literally. The former group ends up making ridiculous car payments, and the latter group puts their safety at significant risk by driving hazardous vehicles for way too long.

There’s got to a balance in there somewhere, right?

Though it’s nice to get a decent car and pay it off altogether, at some point a car owner has to acknowledge that the price of driving an old car may not be worth the lack of car payments. It’s hard to tell when exactly that happens, but here are a few things to look out for.

Rising insurance costs

If your insurance premium quietly climbs up without explanation, it’s a pretty good sign that it’s time to trade in your car for something newer. Your insurance company knows the risks specific to your vehicle as it ages, and will adjust your rates accordingly. It’s a subtle, but pretty reliable indicator that it’s time for a change.

Frequent and/or expensive repairs and breakdowns

We’ll start with the obvious one: if it costs more to repair your car than your car is actually worth, then it’s time to upgrade. That sounds like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many sentimental car owners will fork over serious cash to hang on to their junkers purely out of emotional attachment.

But the frequency of your repairs can also tell you that it’s time for your car to leave your life. The older your car gets, the more frequently something will break, putting you at risk of taking on an unexpected repair bill, but also endangering your life on the road.

Is it time to trade in your banger?

We all know someone who hangs on to their car a little longer than they really should. We can get awfully attached to our mode of transport, especially if we have had it a for a long time (I’m looking at all you guys who own early 2000 motors).

If your car is getting a little creaky, dying a little too often and getting a little rusty around the edges then this is for you.

Here are the 8 signs that it’s time to kiss your little motor goodbye and move on to bigger and better things.

Repair work

Every car needs maintaining, but this means new tyres, shocks, and regular services. It doesn’t mean replacing engine parts, or whole aspects of the suspension that can’t really be considered wear and tear items. CV joints and wheels bearings, for example, should not have to be changed every few years. Clutches should also last more than 50 000 km. When you find yourself replacing these items on a very regular basis, it may be time to work out just how much keeping her on the road is costing versus a replacement. This especially becomes an issue when the service plan or warranty runs out, and you have to fork out yourself. A good rule of thumb is when repair work costs you a third or more of the cost of an equivalent – although newer – vehicle per month, it’s time.


Always standing on the side of the road?

If you’ve recently invested in new jumper cables, a tow rope and replaced the warning triangle because you always seem to be breaking down, and avoid freeways with a verge too narrow to stop safely along, then your car is more trouble than it’s worth. In addition, it’s a safety hazard. No-one wants to be standing next to a broken down car, or risk sitting inside it in case someone doesn’t see you and rear ends you.

If you get to a point where your car is breaking down every few months, then you’ve got a serious problem on your hands, and it’s time to move on.

Car seats look like granny’s sofa?

When the inside of the car – the dash, the seats, the ceiling and door trim – starts to crumble, it’s going to cost more to upholster or revinyl than she’s worth. When you can see the road pass by beneath your feet, or water comes in via some or other gap – above or below – you need to head to a dealership before something serious happens – like the seat belt release fails and you are quite literally stuck with your car.

Your fuel consumption goes up

Let’s face it, fuel is costly nowadays. And we all want as much economy out of a car as we can get. But, when the motor starts getting tired, no matter how often you replace the oil, spark plugs or fuel filter, she’s going to use more fuel.

Granted, you can get up before the sun to avoid traffic in the hopes of trimming some fuel use, but this isn’t sustainable, and neither is the car.

What happens if you crash?

Speaking of insurance and safety features, the older your beloved chariot, the less likely it is to have all the mod cons when it comes to safety. Yes, it will make a great battering ram one day, but at what cost to your personal safety? If you, or passengers in your car, feel uneasy when on the road – it’s time to talk to a dealer. Want to know more about car crashes?

The toughest test

When you’ve weighed up all your options, and are pondering whether to let her go or not, the toughest test is perhaps in her value. To you, she’s worth a fortune, but when a dealer laughs and suggests the nearest scrapyard instead of a decent trade in value, then you know – the time has come.