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How do I Know When It's Time to Buy a New Car?

By J. Beam
Updated: May 23, 2024

There are several factors that could influence the timing of a decision to buy a new car. For instance, if your car has become unreliable, then it may be time to buy a new car. Though reliability leads the decision and timing for a new care purchase, there are other factors that can help you decide when it’s time.

Though reliability and maintenance costs are strongly connected and an unreliable vehicle is at best an inconvenience, maintenance costs should definitely factor in to your decision to buy a new car. When maintenance costs are coming close to or exceeding the actual value of your car, it’s time for a new one. For instance, if your car breaks down and repair costs will come close to or exceed its Kelley Blue Book value, it’s time to move on.

Fuel efficiency is another factor that might make you decide it’s time to buy a new car. Fuel prices are steadily increasing and if you add it up, you could be spending well over the monthly payment amount of a new car on fuel for your gas guzzling truck or SUV each month. If you drive a vehicle that has poor fuel economy, it may be time to look for one with better.

Another indicator, though not as financially draining, is life changes. When life changes occur, such as marriage or the birth or adoption of a child, personal needs change too. Obviously, if you drive a two-seater and have an expanding family, it only makes sense to buy a new car. Similarly, if you've been driving a mini-van to haul around children who are now moved out of your home, a new car could be in your near future.

It may seem better to hold on to a vehicle you own outright than to incur new debt and monthly payments, but if you are spending more on maintenance, gas or other related costs than you would be on a new vehicle, or you have outgrown your current vehicle and it's no longer practical, it is probably time to start shopping.

Experts say that the best time to buy a new car is the end of the month and also the end of the year. Reports from industry analysts show that dealer incentives are better under certain circumstances, such as the end of the month, the end of the year, during tough economic times, and on models that are not selling well. This is where it pays to do your research. If you have decided it is time far a new car, compare dealer incentives and financing options of several different makes and models.

The best indicator that it’s that time to buy a new car are when your current car is costing you more than a new car would — whether in actual money or in lost time and aggravation. With adequate consumer research, your new car purchase can be both financially and personally rewarding.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Cageybird — On Jan 25, 2014

One thing you don't want to do is wait until your old car has completely fallen apart to start looking for a new one. Desperation can help you make some unfortunate decisions. I once had a "beater" I only drove back and forth to work. I knew the engine had a blown gasket, but the repair would cost more than the car was worth. One morning it just went up in a puff of smoke, and I ended up having to walk the five miles to my job. I just bought the first car I could afford at a used car dealership, since I needed something fast. It wasn't much better than the other one.

If you can afford it at all, start looking for a car in much better condition if you know your current car could go at any minute.

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