LifestylePersonal Finance

Scrapheap Challenge – Is it time to let go of your car?

When do you know it’s time to call the wreckers to collect your wheels? Is it the kilometres you’ve racked up, the chips in the paint or the realisation that none of your other friends are driving cars that still sport a bumper sticker saying “Jobs, not GST”? Far from just depreciation alone, we take a look at the math behind holding onto a car longer than you would a girlfriend, to see at what point you should consider stepping into something new.

So many memories, so many trips, right? So you can be forgiven for being extremely fond of your old ride and your sentimentality does you credit, but it’s also highly impractical. Although it’s nice to hold on to useful things for as long as possible as opposed to simply being wasteful, you must come to the realisation that enough is enough. Here’s how to know when it’s time to let your old ride go.

It Looks Dated
Let’s face it, first impressions count, and what was once a brand-sparkling-new car that you couldn’t wait to show off to your mates or your drive down your local high street has long since turned into something you wouldn’t want to pick up a date in. If you feel this way, it’s time to make the switch to one of the many new cars out there.

Burning a Hole through Your Pocket
Of course, it’s not all about looks, and you may not care about popular opinion, and that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with being confident in yourself and your ability to ride around in a wreck that looks like it’s about one overly sharp turn away from the landfill. The real problem arises when your old car transforms into a financial burden.

You don’t get bonus points or a trophy for keeping your car on the road as long as possible. Take a hint from the scratches and dents all over your vehicle body, and start thinking about some of the new cars on the market — your bank account is suffering every minute you don’t.

Everyone knows that cars lose efficiency as they get older. This is a natural result of the fact that science has yet to discover some kind of invincible wonder metal that can resist wear and tear. Even the toughest parts break down and require replacement, and if you don’t provide them with proper maintenance along the way, you’ll pay more in fuel costs. Maintaining older vehicles is basically a coin-flip between paying too much for repairs or shelling out for increased operating fees.

The Good Times Never Last
Car makers wouldn’t profit if they made vehicles that last forever, meaning that you can pretty much count on yours not to. For instance, most vehicle manufacturers know exactly how long each part in the vehicles they make will last. This is how they can print owner’s manual maintenance schedules with exact mileage amounts for each necessary repair. Although the longevity of different components varies, you ought to be concerned with the fact that they all assuredly have finite lifetimes.

Eventually, the cost of necessary repairs to keep your car running will amount to around the same price as a new car, which is especially true of repairs that affect entire systems. Older car parts are also more expensive because it’s harder to source correct parts for your vehicle. This a result of garages not being able to capitalise by stocking old, infrequently used parts, so you’ll have to do a lot of work to find them cheaper on your own or just settle for the inflated prices your mechanics charge to seek them out for you.

Investing for an Upgrade
Also consider the future. You may decide you want to sell your old hunk of junk someday so that you can reduce cost of its new replacement. Unfortunately, unless you got your hands on an original collector’s vehicle or a piece of automotive memorabilia, your car’s value will only decrease over time. As a comparative valuation will demonstrate, increasing age, higher kilometres travelled and worsening vehicle conditions all tend to create a lower market value.

Just remember, owning a car is all about reaping the lifetime benefits. Not only will you be saving money, you’ll also love that feeling about driving around in your brand new car.

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1 Comment

  1. March 21, 2013 at 10:49 pm — Reply

    I realized it was time to get rid of my college car when parts of it were being held together with duct tape! Since then, I’ve been just a little more conscious about its appearance.

    Any rule of thumb suggestions for how long to keep your car so you are not losing a bunch on efficiency and dated appearance?

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