11 Signs You Know You Need To Replace Your Car

Front facing shot of an old yellow car

With the amount of money we typically spend on a car, it’s not really surprising to find that most drivers tend to hang onto their car for a bit longer than they should. Though replacing your car can be costly, it’s important to recognise when it’s beyond repair and causing you more problems than it’s actually worth. The question, then, is how do you know when it’s time to replace your car?

We’re going to take you through 11 signs that will tell you when it’s finally time to take the plunge and replace your car. We’ll also give you a helping hand towards your search for a new car.

1. Your car undergoes major repairs on a regular basis

Every car eventually ends up needing a repair or two along the way—wear and tear is inevitable, after all. Even an occasional breakdown is to be expected, especially with older vehicles. When your car starts to move in and out of your local garage on a regular basis, however, that’s when the alarm bells should be ringing.

It’s important that you carefully weigh up the costs involved whenever your car has to undergo major repairs. More specifically, you need to determine whether the repairs will cost more than the value of the car itself. If so, it will likely work out cheaper to buy a new—or used—car, than to keep throwing money at a car that will break down again in the near future. If you keep encountering issues with your car, it’s a clear indicator that it might be on its last legs.

2. It’s failed the MOT more than once

Man fixing a white car
Image source: Arseny Togulev (via Unsplash)

If you’ve had your car for a few years by this point, then you’ll have had to undergo the stress of taking it in for an MOT test. There’s certainly nothing as frustrating as waiting to find out whether you’ve passed or not! If you’ve had the misfortune of receiving a fail more than once, however, you could have a serious problem on your hands.

When an MOT test finds a problem with a car, they have to record it as a minor, major or dangerous fault. If you receive a major fault, you won’t get your certificate until the issue has been fixed. If you get a dangerous fault, you won’t even be able to drive your car until it’s been sorted! Some repairs won’t cost you much. Others, however, will have you dipping into your savings. If you end up having to spend hundreds—or even thousands—of pounds over the years to pass the MOT, then you know it’s time to let go of your car.

3. You’ve gotten used to your car’s “quirks”

Once you’ve been driving a car for a couple of years, it can become very difficult to figure out what’s ‘normal’ and what you’ve had to get used to. You probably don’t pay much attention to that strange shrieking noise that starts every time you go past second gear—not to mention that odd whirring sound that comes and goes depending on the weather. In fact, the only time you notice is when you have a passenger. If you ever find yourself having to tell someone to ignore the noises your car’s making, you need to take your car in for a check.

Similarly, you might have grown a bit too comfortable with seeing your car’s warning lights on constantly. Though it’s common to see these lights every now and again, it’s important that you never ignore them or treat them as a minor inconvenience. If something’s off with your vehicle, it needs looking at by a professional. If it can’t be fixed, or it costs too much to repair, then it’s time to replace your car.

4. Safety is now a concern

Yellow caution tape at night
Image source: Muukii (via Unsplash)

It doesn’t matter how well you take care of your car, eventually, it will be unsafe to drive. It might not seem so obvious to start with, but think about it. How old is your car? If it’s getting on a bit, it’s likely that its safety features are outdated. Nowadays, cars are kitted out with every safety feature you can think of—from auto-braking to lane assist to collision warning. If your car doesn’t seem to measure up well in comparison, it might be time to trade it in.

You should never feel worried about your safety when driving your car. Besides, it’s not just your safety that you need to worry about—you’ve got to think about your passengers and other road users. If you think your car is a hazard waiting to happen, then you need to hang up your keys and replace your car ASAP.

5. Your premiums have skyrocketed

Ah, insurance. The bane of every driver’s existence. Whilst it is, of course, possible to reduce the cost of premiums so that they’re slightly more manageable, they’re still a heavy drain on your monthly or annual finances. No matter how frustrating it is though, it’s necessary. (It’s illegal to drive without insurance after all!) If you start to see your premiums creep up each year, however, it’s time for you to start paying attention.

Though premiums fluctuate a lot, depending on various factors, if your personal details and driving history haven’t changed much, it could very well be your car’s fault. Older cars tend to be unreliable, aren’t fitted with as many safety features and are more likely to break down. As a result, insurers see them as risky to insure. The longer you stick with your old car, the higher your premiums will rise. Newer cars, by comparison, often come with lower premiums than you might expect due to their numerous safety features.

6. It’s guzzling fuel like there’s no tomorrow

Shot of an almost empty petrol station
Image source: Mehluli Hikwa

Owning a car can be a pretty expensive endeavour. You’ve not only got to buy the actual car, you’ve also got to sort out insurance, vehicle tax, MOTs and service checks. If that wasn’t enough, you’ve also got to fork out for fuel on a regular basis. Once you’ve had your car for a few months or so, you’ll start to notice how often you need to take it to the petrol station. If your routine is regular enough, it can be like clockwork.

Unfortunately, however, the older your car gets, the less reliable it can become. Issues with the engine and other functions, for example, can lead to your car consuming more fuel than it should. If you find yourself needing to fill up far more than you used to, despite taking measures to save fuel when driving, you might need to start considering your options. Try to calculate just how much you’re spending on fuel each month. You might find that it will be more cost-effective for you to simply trade in your car for a more fuel efficient one. You could even opt for an eco-friendly one!

7. No-one wants to get in your car

Recently noticed that your friends and family keep on turning down your offers to drive them places? Do they display a measure of pained reluctance when they have to get in your car? There are only two main reasons why someone would turn down a perfectly good lift. Either you’re a bad driver, or they don’t feel like your car is safe to be in.

For argument’s sake, we’ll assume that you’re an excellent driver who doesn’t have any bad habits. So, your friends and family are nervous—or scared—to sit in your car. On the one hand, it means you’re never the designated driver. Plus, you’re never called upon to take anyone around on errands. On the other hand, however, it’s a clear indicator that you need to replace your car. If your loved ones are genuinely worried about their safety—and yours—whilst in your car, you should listen to them.

8. It’s getting in the way of work

Two women in discussion at work
Image source: Amy Hirschi (via Unsplash)

If you find yourself having to take the bus to work—or give your boss a ring ten minutes before you’re supposed to be in—all because your car has broken down yet again, you might need to switch things up. Though the occasional breakdown is to be expected, you should never allow yourself to get used to them. Your employer might be understanding the first couple of times it happens, but eventually, they’re going to lose their patience.

9. You’ve got different needs now

A car is never perfect forever. Our needs are always changing—whether it’s the size of the car, its fuel economy or the power of its engine. If you’ve recently had new additions in the family, for example, you might find that you need a bigger car. Similarly, if your commute has changed, so that you’re not on the road as much, you might need something smaller or less powerful. When you’ve outgrown your car, it’s time to replace it and move on.

Of course, your needs might have changed even more drastically. If you’ve relocated to a city centre, you might not even need a car! Rather than spending your money on insuring and taxing a car that you don’t use, it might be better for you to either scrap it or, at the very least, apply for a SORN!

10. Just being near your car raises your blood pressure

Stressed man sat on a couch
Image source: Nik Shuliahin (via Unsplash)

Remember the honeymoon phase you had with your car after you first bought it? No? If your car has become your worst enemy, it’s time to upgrade. It’s never a good idea to get behind the wheel when you’re angry. (Trust us, road rage isn’t attractive on anyone.) If your car has made anger your default emotion, you need to make a positive change in your life and replace it.  Similarly, if you find yourself lying awake at night trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for the latest batch of repairs, you need to take action. Your car should never be the source of all of your stress—your mental health needs to come first.

11. You get jealous of other cars

If you turn into the green-eyed monster whenever you look at other people’s cars, you need to carefully consider why that is. Is it because you want to be able to brag about having the latest and greatest model? If the answer’s yes, then you should ignore it. As long as your car works properly, you shouldn’t replace it just for the sake of it. If, however, you’re getting jealous because you’re sure your car’s ready to bite the dust, then it might finally be time for you trade it in for a new one!

Finally realised you need to replace your car?

If you’ve read through our entire list and found yourself nodding along to most of our points, then it could very well be time for you to trade in your old car and replace it with a new one! Exciting times. If you’re not sure where to start with your search, we’ve got the perfect guides for you:

By Bethany Hall

Whether you’re a learner or a pro driver, Bethany is here to help. From defensive driving to the Highway Code, she’ll tell you everything you need know about driving. If she’s not on the road, you’ll probably find Bethany with her head in a book or binge-watching the latest TV show.

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