Feeling like you’re due for a new set of wheels? But worried you’re just lusting for another big purchase? There are ways to tell when it’s actually time for an upgrade and when it makes more sense financially to stick with your whip as-is.
Here are three signs that would suggest your new-car craving is reasonable and not just a frivolous desire.
You’re Always at the Mechanic
It’s good to be on a first-name basis with your mechanic; it means that the shop has kept your business for a while now, probably because they’re fair, professional, and do good work. However, if you’re there so frequently that you know the on-and-off status of Joe’s troubled relationship, you have a problem on your hands.
For one, no one wants to waste time at the mechanic—even if Joe is a great guy. Life is busy, you have places to be, and you need a reliable car to get you there. Secondly, the money you’re pouring into mechanic work probably isn’t worth it. You could be investing that money into a savings account that could be used to buy a car that you can actually count on. Plus, if your mechanic really is that good, they probably should have already given you this advice rather than continue to repair a car that’s falling apart. Make sure they’re not just charging you for friendship… or for wasteful labor.
You’re Commute got Longer
New job? Congrats! If the career change came with a significant commute change, you might want to think about upgrading to a more fuel-efficient vehicle. You’ll do good for the environment and for your wallet by reducing your gas expenses and fuel emissions.
Hopefully, you factored in the farther drive and longer distance when you accepted the job. If you didn’t, and are concerned about fitting a car purchase in with your new salary, then you should be relieved to know that you can snag plenty of deals at local lots.
For example, let’s say that I’m a resident in Aventura who used to work in Miami, but recently took a job up north. I’ve noticed how much more money I’m spending on gas and how much I dread sitting in rush hour traffic for over an hour each way. When I finally have enough of it, I’m ready to upgrade and decide to pull off on my way home to see what a certified pre-owned Mercedes near Boca Raton can offer me. I heard they had awesome prices, and whoever said that buying a used car can’t be luxurious?
By shopping a certified pre-owned car, I know that it’s in excellent condition, but the “gently used” status knocks so much off the price that it allows me to shop at Mercedes-Benz. Now I’m ready to zip down the Florida coastline with much better MPG and pull up at the outdoor mall near South Beach in impressive style.
Your Family Grew
In almost all cases, you upgrade your car when you have a major lifestyle change, such as getting a new job or becoming a parent. When a child is involved, it’s definitely an indicator that you need to ditch that old beater and invest in a high-quality vehicle that boasts a 5-star safety rating.
When looking into options for selling your old car and considering what make or model to upgrade to, shop strategically. This investment is likely the largest one you will make in a while—if you make it last, you could even pass it down to your kid down the road. Look for cutting-edge features that are guaranteed to help the car retain its value. That might include adaptive cruise control that can curb your need for speed when the baby’s in the back, or perhaps smartphone compatibility to ensure your hands are always safely locked at 10 and 2.
Life changes sometimes warrant (or demand) a car upgrade, but unless your car is falling apart, you should probably stick in the same set of wheels until you can’t resist the urge any longer. You probably won’t get much money back on the vehicle, so it’s wise to drive it for as long and as far as possible. When you can’t resist the urge to upgrade any longer, you’ll be glad you waited—it means you get the sleekest, newest whip in the lineup.