What to con­sider be­fore re­plac­ing a car

The Hamilton Spectator - - WHEELS -

A ques­tion that car own­ers will inevitably ask them­selves is, “When should I re­place my cur­rent ve­hi­cle?”

For those con­sid­er­ing a new (or pre-owned) auto pur­chase, there are gen­er­ally four main cri­te­ria that will in­flu­ence that de­ci­sion: safety, ter­mi­na­tion of a lease, main­te­nance/re­pair costs and life­style change. Let’s break down each of these cri­te­ria.

Safety: This has to do with the con­di­tion of some older ve­hi­cles. There are car own­ers who don’t main­tain their au­to­mo­biles and, af­ter years of ne­glect, their ve­hi­cle sud­denly breaks down when a ma­jor com­po­nent fails.

When a car breaks down, own­ers are forced to de­cide (for safety rea­sons) to ei­ther have their ve­hi­cle re­paired or re­placed with a newer model.

Another fac­tor is that older mod­els don’t have as many high-tech safety fea­tures as newer mod­els. For­ward-col­li­sion warn­ing sys­tem, side im­pact airbags, adap­tive cruise con­trol and backup cam­eras are read­ily avail­able on to­day’s mod­els, and for that rea­son alone, car own­ers may be ready for an up­grade. Ter­mi­na­tion of a lease: Auto leas­ing is a pop­u­lar pur­chas­ing op­tion in Canada. When leases ex­pire, many con­sumers con­tinue to lease. In these sit­u­a­tions, they will re­place their cur­rent ve­hi­cle ev­ery three or four years. Ris­ing re­pair costs: Although mod­ern ve­hi­cles are built well and can op­er­ate for hun­dreds of thou­sands of kilo­me­tres, as ve­hi­cles age, ma­jor com­po­nents can fail. When re­pair costs start to mount as a re­sult of me­chan­i­cal is­sues, it’s prob­a­bly time to con­duct a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis on a cur­rent ve­hi­cle com­pared to the cost of buy­ing new.

If es­ti­mated re­pair costs are more than half of the ve­hi­cle’s present mar­ket value, it could be time to buy a new ve­hi­cle. One of the ad­van­tages of buy­ing new is that your pay­ments are fixed over a num­ber of years (three, four or longer, usu­ally at very low rates) and the man­u­fac­turer’s stan­dard war­ranty pro­tec­tion usu­ally cov­ers me­chan­i­cal de­fi­cien­cies for three years or 60,000 kilo­me­tres, whichever comes first.

If you’ve de­cided to do the re­pairs, check for open re­calls on your ve­hi­cle, in which case, the cost of parts and labour are cov­ered by your lo­cal new-car dealer. To find out about po­ten­tial re­calls, visit Trans­port Canada’s web­site at tc.gc.ca and type “mo­tor ve­hi­cle safety re­calls data­base” into the search bar.

Life­style change: Since the av­er­age age of ve­hi­cles on the road is 11 years, a lot can hap­pen in a per­son’s life over a decade. In many cases, per­sonal cir­cum­stances and work sit­u­a­tions often prompt car buy­ers to re­place their cur­rent ve­hi­cle.

Par­ents with small chil­dren may even­tu­ally want to swap a hatch­back for a mini­van to ac­com­mo­date kids’ ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties as their chil­dren age. Or, in­di­vid­u­als who change jobs and travel longer dis­tances to work may need a more fu­el­ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cle to re­duce fuel costs.

Buy­ing a ve­hi­cle is a big de­ci­sion, and it’s an im­por­tant one. If you’ve come to the con­clu­sion that now is the time to trade in your wheels for a newer model, don’t make that de­ci­sion in haste.

This col­umn rep­re­sents the views and val­ues of the TADA. Write to pres­i­dent@ tada.ca or go to tada.ca. Larry Lantz is pres­i­dent of the Tril­lium Au­to­mo­bile Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion and is a new-car dealer. in Hanover, Ont.

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