How to Know When it’s Time to Upgrade Your Car

It’s a hard decision to make. Cars aren’t cheap, and knowing if and when it’s time to upgrade – and whether or not an upgrade is justifiable – isn’t something to be taken lightly.

We’ve listed some of the top scenarios that signal it’s time for a vehicle upgrade.

The first one is arguably the most important, but the other reasons are definitely worth consideration.

The key to knowing whether or not to upgrade boils down to these factors, and if you answer “no” to any of these questions, you may be visiting a car dealership very soon.

Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Is it safe to drive?
  • Is the vehicle worth more than it costs to fix?
  • Is the car reliable?
  • Does the car do what you need it to?

Let’s get into a little more detail.

It’s a Safety Hazard

If the car has reached the point where it’s held together with duct tape, if the engine is prone to overheating, or if the vehicle is so old and corroded that it’s burning oil and leaking fuel, it is likely time for an upgrade.

Additionally, older model vehicles, such as sedans made in the 1990s and before, do not have the same safety features as vehicles engineered within the last decade.

The longer you try and push a car that’s obviously on its way out, the more of a safety risk you pose not only to yourself, but to others around you.

If you were the victim of an accident and your car is compromised, it’s important that you get the responsible parties contact info and insurance details, since they’re liable for covering whatever damages incurred, or for replacing the vehicle if it’s been totaled. Additionally, if you were injured and have suffered as a result, it may be in your best interest to speak with a personal injury attorney. JT Legal Group offers free no obligation consultations.

It Costs More to Fix Than It’s Worth

There comes a time in every vehicle owner’s life (unless the car’s a classic… never give up on a classic!)  where the cost of fixing it is more than the car itself is worth.

This is a tough pill to swallow, especially if the car isn’t completely paid off yet.

However, continuously sinking funds into repairing a car, or coming up with a large chunk of money for a new transmission, could be better spent on a down payment.

And when it becomes a safety risk, if you push it too far it could lead to an accident, or another event that you may be liable for.

Remember, the safety of you and your family is most important, and even though it may feel like a hassle, like “one more thing,” it’s worth upgrading and forking over a little extra money if it helps keep you safe.

It’s Unreliable

If the only thing your car does reliably is be unreliable, it’s likely time for an upgrade. As cars age, even though many may keep running – though not always consistently – you start to pay more when they fail smog, don’t always start, or need to be towed to the shop multiple times a month.

There’s nothing worse than having a car break down while you’re on the freeway. If it’s hot out, you may be waiting under the blistering sun without any shade, waiting ages for a tow truck to appear, as a loud steady stream of cars race past at breakneck speed.

A car that breaks down over and over is also an inconvenience. You may be late to work, appointments, or picking up your kid from school.

Use this calculator to help determine whether it makes financial sense to replace or keep your current vehicle.

It Doesn’t Do What You Need it to

Sometimes, life or lifestyle changes mean it’s time to get a new car. If you were single when you bought the Miata, but now have two kids and a partner who’s six foot five, you may need something that can fit the family comfortably and safely.

Or, if you recently relocated to an area that’s somewhat rural, and the roads aren’t well maintained, you may want something with 4-wheel drive, that can handle muddy dirt roads or frozen mountain passes.

In situations like this, you can afford to take a bit more time saving for a down payment on a newer vehicle, while putting your current car on the market.


Upgrading a vehicle is a big decision, and we hope this article helped shed some light on the process, making it all a little easier.