Nine Signs That It’s Time to Break up with Your Car
Breaking up is hard to do, especially if your “love” has four
wheels. Yes, we Americans are infatuated with our rides, so much so that
one-fourth of us give them names according to a seminal 2013 Nationwide
That attachment, however, can come with a steep financial cost,
especially if your car is old, is in need of extortionate repairs or
drinks fuel like a camel. If you need reasons to ditch your ride this
Valentine’s Day, then read on.
1. You can’t catch a date. No girl will go out with you and that fact
has absolutely nothing to do with the way you look, talk or flirt. What
bothers her is your use of duct tape to hold up the rear bumper, patch a
hole or to secure a faux hood scoop in place. Seriously?! Unless your
car is spotless inside and out, it won’t matter to her how well you
break it down to Uptown Funk.
2. You drive an unrestored classic. You call your car an unrestored
classic, but everyone else says it is a wreck. Unless you plan to
restore your 1987 Chevy El Camino, continuing to use it as your daily
driver makes little sense. It’s time to get off the fence and restore
your ride or sell it to someone who will.
3. Transmission slippage portends a major repair. Your car has gone
through every warranty, including its powertrain, and now its extended
warranty. When you step on the gas, you notice a delay in acceleration.
Further, it takes multiple attempts to shift into reverse and there is
an odd smell emanating from somewhere underneath the vehicle. Changing
the transmission fluid might help matters, but if you’ve already done
that, you’re looking at a major repair, one that could cost you more
than what your vehicle is worth.
4. Engine problems are ongoing and pervasive. Besides the
transmission, the engine is the other most costly repair for vehicle
owners. Even with normal wear and tear, an engine will eventually come
to the end of its useful lifespan and need to be overhauled or replaced.
And both options will cost you dearly. Among the signs of pervasive
engine problems include: inordinate oil consumption, smoke emitting from
the tailpipe, low oil pressure or compression, tapping or knocking
sounds, and leaks. Unless you can rebuild the engine yourself, you’re
looking at an exorbitant cost.
5. Your ride cannot pass inspection. Some states are stricter than
others when it comes to emissions repairs. Lest you can secure a waiver
for failing inspection, you must get your car repaired. Otherwise, you
will have to park it until it you can afford that cost. And those
repairs can be expensive. Indeed, if the catalytic converter is damaged,
it will need to be replaced and that cost can top $1,000 with parts and
6. Air conditioning is just another term for driving fast with the
windows down. Repairing your car’s air conditioner may be one of your
least expensive repairs, but it is only a slice of the under hood
maintenance your car needs. New hoses, wiring, a battery, timing belt,
cooling system and gaskets will eventually have to be replaced too,
turning your ride into a money pit. Many newer cars come with zoned
climate control and an allergy inhibiting cabin air filter, and none of
the headaches of your old car.
7. Getting lost and lousy music choices are just no fun. Your car was
built before GPS navigation systems were the norm, and your audio
system has a broken CD system, no auxiliary input jack or a USB port.
Most cars built within the past three years have comprehensive
infotainment systems with audio, navigation, climate control and other
features tied in with a central control panel. Today’s cars are
veritable entertainment boxes on wheels, bringing in satellite radio,
Pandora, Stitcher, accurate navigation, traffic and weather reports, and
other features. And, yes, you can usually sync that system with your
smartphone to extend its usefulness.
8. Safety features can save your life. Your car may have front
airbags and anti-lock brakes, but you may be missing out on safety
features that have become prevalent over the past five years. Nearly all
cars now come equipped with front, front side and side curtain airbags.
They may also have stability control, traction control, brake-force
distribution, and brake assist. Moreover, you can now buy a car with
adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and a
host of other driver assistance features. The Insurance Institute for
Highway Safety (IIHS) tests and grades today’s vehicles for
crashworthiness as well as for crash avoidance and mitigation. Consider
whether your current car provides the protection you and the ones you
love deserve by checking those ratings.
9. Nothing beats that new car look, smell and feel. When was the last
time you purchased a new car? Remember the look, smell and feel that
stayed with it for the better part of a year? You don’t need a specific
reason to buy new and your current ride doesn’t have to be the wreck we
described earlier. There is something to be said about running your
hands across the maple or redwood burl trim, adjusting the instrument
panel to reflect the information you want, or syncing your entire music
library with the car’s infotainment system. You’ve put up with your old
ride longer than needed. It is time to sell, trade or donate your
vehicle and shop for something new or gently used.
Just Break Up
Before you make the break with your driving past, find out what your
current vehicle is worth. Add in a sizable down payment, explore your
loan options, and begin to shop for a car. If you choose used, insist on
a CARFAX Vehicle History Report. Then, have a mechanic independently
verify the car’s condition.
Yes, breaking up is hard to do, but your current ride’s problems may be enough for you to sever that emotional attachment.