Eventually, the time comes when your trusty steed has to be sent out to pasture. However, you might not have any idea of what to look for, or maybe you’re too attached or stubborn to realize the end is nigh. Making your dollar work for you is respectable and a great long-term goal, but when it starts to affect safety, gas mileage or your friends’ willingness to step inside your car, it might be time to upgrade. Here are some indications to look for and steps to take to head in the right direction.
It might be time for a new car if…
Maybe budding technologies isn’t your strong suit, but that doesn’t mean you should settle for ancient technology. There’s a whole world or modern marvels out there to make your life more efficient, smarter and just plain easier. If you don’t have a car with Bluetooth, you’re missing out on wireless calling, music streaming and the simplicity of fewer wires! Cars are the one place where getting a new one can catapult you into a different technological decade in the matter of a few short drives.
Aside from the conveniences of less wires, newer cars have more safety features keeping an eye on you than Big Brother; better fuel-saving measures than hypermiling; and standard features that make you feel like royalty. If your car doesn’t have ABS, cruise control, automatic locks and power windows, you’re commuting in the wrong century. Do yourself a favor and try to get yourself inside a tech bubble before you get lost in time.
The most simple and satisfying answer is to buy something you deserve, but enough people don’t celebrate with this mantra and especially with a purchase as big as a new vehicle. The car doesn’t have to be straight off the factory floor, but even a one-owner used car offers the pleasures of new machinery without the upcharge of minty fresh. In most of America, a car is something that is used 365 days out of the year in all types of weather and varying situations.
When was the last time you wore that fancy, expensive coat every day for a year? Not likely. A new car is instant gratification every time you need to rely on one. Whether it’s an unconscious thought of that heat on a winter morning, the cold A/C during a blazing summer day, or a pleasurable one such as a freshly washed car to admire, the car is an indispensable (and lustworthy) tool to have at your disposal. So take that end of the year bonus that you were saving for a new bidet and splurge on something that really makes you want to go, go, go!
If you’ve ever had the joy of getting a taxi ride by one of New York City’s infamous Crown Vic taxicabs, you know the sounds we’re talking about. It’s a constant reminder that at any time the V8 mounted in front could grenade, leaving you stranded in some unfamiliar place at a really opportune time at night. In New York City, the subways and multitudes of other taxis are there to save you should you be aware enough, but if your hauler loses its heart, things could get considerably worse for you.
Towards the end of an engine’s life cycle, squeaking, rattling, hissing, and metal-on-metal sounds start to permeate through to the user. There are usually fixes for all of them: new belts, vacuum lines, engine components. The fixes could end up costing more than the car is worth—considering it’s probably older than the dickens at this point—or more than you think should be paid for the inconvenience. Instead, if your aging rust bucket has had its time to shine, try factoring in costs to fix it versus buying something worry free. If you have to start the car with a wish and a prayer, do yourself a favor and throw out that Magic 8-Ball and get something newer, pronto.
See that hole in your left quarter panel? Sure, it helps to diagnose if there’s a hose in that one particular spot that needs attention by giving you Superman x-ray vision, but otherwise it’s just a rusty eyesore, and potentially unsafe. Rust can get to the point of no return and at that point you’re driving Swiss cheese with a side of accident-waiting-to-happen.
Small, localized rust spots can usually be fixed no problem, but once the spreading occurs it could be too late to stop it. Exhaust systems can also rust, leading to carbon monoxide escaping to inside of a car, putting harmful fumes right in your wheelhouse, so to speak. There’s usually nothing positive about rust, unless of course you’re going for aesthetics, which is an acquired taste. Take that old rust bucket to the scrap heap for scrap metal, then take the money you just acquired to put it towards a car where the only thing that’s rusty is your dog.
New Car Scent can only go so far. If the inside of your vehicle smells like the outside of a dump, it may be time to actually take it to one. Over the course of many years, aromas both savory and unsavory begin to cling to every surface. Whether you like it or not, not everyone agrees with that curry-based chicken you ate on your lunch break three months ago, of which some of it took a nosedive in between the seat cushion.
SERVPRO might be able to make it like it never even happened, but if it’s gotten so repulsively stanky by this point, it’s too late. Light a few Yankee Candles, have a séance declaring the stink gone, and see what kind of trade you can get towards a fresh-as-a-daisy ride.
Unless you suffer from extreme hoarding disorder, it might be the perfect time to look into something with a bit more utility. That ’95 Honda Civic is a great, reliable ride, but if you’re packing a month’s worth of traveling into only a weekend’s worth of room, the proof is in the pudding. Compact cars are great if you live in a city, don’t own much stuff, or are single and only have to worry about yourself.
However, if you’re the adventurous type who would much rather go spelunking on the weekends instead of hammer away the keys on Facebook; or have a kid or two and need a carryall for their Minecraft toys, then a wagon or SUV is probably right up your alley. Granted a bigger vessel won’t change your stockpiling ways, but bigger is usually better and this is America damnit!
Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.