The car is smoking more than your backyard barbecue. That old jalopy sits in the shop more than you sit in the driver’s seat. The odometer is slowly creeping up to the 200,000 mile marker. It might be time to start thinking about trading your vehicle in for a new set of wheels.
“But it’s paid off,” you say. No one is anxious to pick up a new bill. Think of it as an opportunity cost. How much money are you spending a month on repairs? What about tow truck’s fees when the ride leaves you stranded on the side of the highway? According to Experian, the average new car payment in the United States is just below $500 a month. That’s a scary number but the average used car payment sits around $380. We all know that a new car depreciates as soon as you drive it off the lot so a “new to you” vehicle is probably your best option. With an average tow truck call costing around $80; it only takes four tows to justify that used car payment.
Cost isn’t the only factor. You should never be concerned that your car will leave you stranded on the highway. Smoking from the hood or tailpipe is a red flag. This could be an indication of overheating or burning too much gas. An engine that’s allowed to overheat for a prolonged period of time will melt down. A dead engine in the middle of interstate traffic will cost you more than just repairs to the vehicle. It may lead to hospital and insurance bills.
Maybe you’ve had a change in your life and the style of vehicle just isn’t meeting your needs. That two door coupe you bought in high school doesn’t accommodate a car seat like a sensible minivan. A muscle car or a sports utility vehicle will cost you in gas mileage and might not be ideal for a new job with a lengthy commute.
Driving a busted old vehicle can be embarrassing. No one wants to ride with a guy who has a coat hanger for an antenna. A billowing cloud of smoke from your tailpipe is a solid spy diversion but it’s not the best look for everyday driving. Missing door handles and faded paint jobs aren’t winning any popularity contests. If your friends are ducking below the windows when you drive through town, it’s probably about time to trade in for a newer model.