A parked car on the side of the road in the UK.

10 signs you need to replace your car

In case you didn't already know you needed a new car.
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  • One of the biggest reasons to change your car is if develops faults constantly and needs frequent repairs.
  • Or perhaps you've finished paying off your car loan and you're looking for something new.
  • Another reason is the fact that you if you sell your old car, and get one on subscription, you can switch vehicles as often as you'd like!

If you're wondering how often you should replace your car, there are a few signs you can look for to help you decide.

One of the most important signs is how often you have to take it in for repairs outside of the routine maintenance. If you find yourself at the mechanic more and more often, it may be time to sell your car online or getting a car on subscription. But that's not the only way you know it may be time for a new car!

So, what are the signs that you need to ditch your old car and get a newer vehicle?

Emissions standards have changed and your current car is no longer compliant

Emission standards are constantly evolving, the rules and regulations are becoming more stringent, and cities are turning busy city centres expensive to drive in. All in an effort to improve air quality and the environment.

Post-Brexit, the UK continues to follow the Euro emissions standards. The latest of these is Euro 6, which was phased in from 2015 to 2016. Its purpose was to reduce the harmful emissions from petrol and diesel engines, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter.

Older vehicles, which do not meet the latest requirements, can still be used on the roads, but they may incur an additional daily charge if you wish to enter clean air zones such as London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ). Unless your vehicle complies with Euro 6 or meets one of a small number of exemptions, you will have to pay £12.50 per day to drive in the ULEZ – equivalent to a hefty £3,250 per year if you were to drive there five days a week.

London is by no means the only city to implement a clean air zone. At the time of writing, Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth and Tyneside all have similar schemes, while Sheffield and Greater Manchester also have plans for them.

If you regularly drive in these areas with an older petrol or diesel car, you should definitely think about switching to a newer vehicle.

Your car doesn't feel safe to drive

A lot of factors can lead you and your passengers to feel unsafe when on the road. An obvious one is steering wheel shaking. This is usually an indication of poor tyre alignment or balance, but it could be something more serious. Keep an eye on the electronic stability control light too!

Many non-essential parts, buttons, knobs, dials and fittings are made of plastic, which degrades over time. If pieces start falling apart, it may be time to test drive a new car.

Also, if the engine gets hot, especially when the weather conditions and temperature can't justify it, it may mean your cooling system is starting to give up. It's one of those issues which can be fixed but often lead to requiring more repairs down the line.

Newer cars, especially electric vehicles, come with heaps of safety features. You know, the usual blind-spot monitoring, or side airbags, pretty much comes as standard these days!

Features like automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning and lane departure avoidance are safety features many modern cars benefit from.

Your car breaks down often and spends a lot of time in the garage

Older cars tend to be more problematic, especially if they haven’t been maintained properly. According to the AA, the typical causes of breakdowns are related to:

  • Faulty battery or not charging
  • Damaged tyres and wheels
  • Issues with the diesel particulate filter (DPF)
  • Engine oil problems
  • Starter motor problems
  • Alternator faults
  • Engine overheating

Repair costs can be high. When you recognise the early signs of needing a new car, you could think about a new car, even part exchange it. Petrol and diesel cars don’t have a monopoly on breakdowns, but if you’re looking for a new car, it’s worth bearing in mind that electric vehicles do have less to go wrong.

If driven for many miles over the car's intended lifetime

There’s no golden rule as to when a car is past its sell by date. In fact, it’s quite common for a car to experience issues early in its life that are fixed under warranty, followed by a period of greater reliability.

But there’s no doubt that, as it gets older, more parts will need to be replaced to keep it going – and there may come a point where that’s no longer economical to do. Some people recommend you start thinking about your next car after you pass the 100,000-mile mark.

When it comes to car subscription, similar to other financing options, you can generally pick a new car, with a new engine, that's more efficient - it could work out a better deal in the long run! What other reasons to subscribe do you need?

The fuel efficiency of your current car is bad

In the best-case scenario, your car is just not as efficient as newer modern cars and you're finding yourself at the pump more often than you'd like. Considering the current energy crisis, you may even consider an electric car, and an EV energy tariff for your home, so you can save money on fuel.

In the worst-case scenario, it could be due to a potentially costly fault with the car or the engine robbing its efficiency. If such a fault appears on a subscription car, you'll be covered and you won't be out of pocket. Is it a no-brainer? Keep reading.

Your car brings back bad memories

Your car can be a constant reminder of the good times, but it can also be a very strong reminder of parts of your life which weren't very good. A bad breakup? A divorce? Whatever the bad memories, your motor won't let you forget.

A new car represents a new start, a way to move forward. Plus, you get the enjoy the latest and greatest different brands have to offer!

Your old car doesn't fit your lifestyle anymore

People change, circumstances change, and so would your requirements. Maybe you've moved into a city and need a smaller run-around, or you've been blessed with two kids, so you need to think about a safe SUV.

Or, maybe you spend your summers touring around the country, while in the winter you focus on work and avoid driving so much. In such cases, a car subscription could be an option, because you can swap your cars as often as every month, without the long-term commitment which comes with car leases.

You feel like you're missing out on the latest technology

When Apple CarPlay doesn't cut it anymore you may have your eyes on something even more flashy. Wait, maybe your old car doesn't even have CarPlay or Android Auto? Both are still a good upgrade. However, some of the latest EV's like Model 3 and e-Tron can bring up to speed with the latest. Some say driving a Tesla is like driving an iPhone - you get the idea!

You've made your final car loan payment

Buying a car on finance can sometimes feel like getting a mortgage! The Personal Contract Purchase, the Hire Purchase or Lease can feel like you've been tied to that same car for years!

However, if you have finally paid it off, you can think about your next run around! You should check out the trade-in value or decide whether to put the cash towards a new financial agreement or get one on a subscription!

Maybe you just want a new car!

Sometimes you don't need any reasons to want to treat yourself! If you have the desire, the cash, and a dream car in mind, there's little to stop you from getting what you want.

Should I buy a new car or could a vehicle subscription be the answer?

Car subscription has become a wise choice for thousands UK drivers, because it combines all car expenses (including insurance costs and maintenance costs) in one monthly car payment.

For many, this makes financial sense, since budgeting is easier, and you don't have to worry about unexpected costly repairs.

When you buy a car, you’ll need a lot of cash upfront for the down payment. You’ll also need some money saved for emergency maintenance, insurance, servicing, and MOT tests. As a result, buying a new car requires a significant financial commitment right from the start.

You should check out our in-depth subscription vs buying comparison to learn when to buy a new car and when should you replace your car with one on a monthly subscription.

On the other hand, with a vehicle subscription, you’ll pay more per month but costly repairs are factored into the total costs of the subscription payment.

If you pick an electric car subscription provider you can be sure you'll be able to pick a brand new car or a nearly new vehicle.

So, is it time to replace your old car and get a new vehicle?

The bottom line: make the decision before the car makes it for you

If you're experiencing any of these signs, then it might be time to start browsing for a new car. Just be sure to do your research so you can find the perfect one for your needs and budget.

The list of car subscription providers in Britain keeps growing, so you won't be short of options. The past few years have seen an ever-increasing demand for EVs, you may want to start looking sooner rather than later! Sometimes delivery can take weeks!

When should you replace your car: FAQs

What is depreciation?

Depreciation is the decrease in the value of a vehicle overtime. This can be due to many factors such as wear and tear, age, and mileage.

It is estimated that a car's value can fall by 40% in the first three years. Some models can be affected more rapidly and premium brands like BMW and Audi typically hold their value better.

The arrival of electric cars has made this topic somewhat more complicated too, with long waiting times for a lot of new EVs bumping up their second hand values.

How long should you keep your car?

This is a difficult question to answer, as it depends on several factors. Ultimately, it is up to the owner to decide when to sell or trade in their car. However, there are a few general guidelines that can be followed.

One factor to consider is the age of the car. As a car gets older, it will inevitably require more maintenance and repairs. If the cost of these repairs begins to outweigh the value of the car, it may be time to sell.

Another factor to consider is how often the car is driven. If a vehicle is only driven occasionally, it may last longer than one that is driven daily.

Finally, it is important to think about how much money you are willing to spend on your car. If you are not willing to invest in repairs or upgrades, it may be time to let your old car go.

How often does the average person change their car?

According to research, on average people keep their cars for 6 years.

How long should my car last?

The average lifespan of a car nowadays is almost 12 years, or 200,000 miles, provide it's been maintained regularly. That's probably the breaking point at which you should consider changing it.

Should you change your car every 3 years?

There’s no definitive answer to this question. A brand new car should still have many years of service ahead when it reaches its third birthday (the average age of a car in the UK is currently 8.4 years, with some much older vehicles still in daily use).

As consumers, we tend to change our cars far more frequently than that. This is due to a range of factors including the duration of leases or finance deals, the arrival of new models and new technologies, and simply human nature. We like new things.

So when should you change your car? Fundamentally, when you can get a better deal elsewhere, when you want to take advantage of new features or simply when you feel like it. One of the advantages of driving a car on subscription is that you can swap vehicles far more regularly without any financial penalties for changing.

How do you know if a car is dying?

There are a few telltale signs that your car is dying. If the engine starts making strange noises, if the vehicle starts to vibrate excessively, or if the check engine light comes on, these are all signs that your car needs some serious maintenance.

If you ignore these signs and continue to drive your car, it will eventually break down completely.

Should I use my money for repairs or down payment?

Every car finance deal requires a deposit. You could be charged £1,000 for a repair. Alternatively, you could even sell your vehicle and use that budget to fund your car subscription payments for a few months. It's one of those things where you have to decide what you value and what will bring peace of mind!

Is it worth keeping an old car?

If you are attached to your car and it has sentimental value, then it may be worth keeping it, even if it's not the most practical option. There’s also an environmental argument for sticking with an older car, unless you’re going to replace it with a new one that’s substantially more efficient.

But the flip side to this is that there are often numerous compelling reasons to change. Selling an older car often means that someone else gets to enjoy it, while you can move on to a newer (and potentially greener) model. And who doesn’t like that new car feeling?

If you fancy a change, check out our guide to running a car on subscription.

Browse all cars available on subscription

There are hundreds of cars available via UK subscription companies.

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