There comes a time in a motorist’s life when he or she is faced with a potential vehicle upgrade; the usual catalyst being an unforeseen vehicle incident or staring in the face of a substantially large repair bill.

But what if an aging car has given years of trouble-free motoring, it’s enjoyable to drive, and is good on the gas? This is a common scenario presented to the AA Motoring advice team, with the question, why change?

We often hear, ‘I’ve not spent a cent’, and to us this can simply mean a hefty service bill may be just around the corner. Every vehicle with wear and tear items will require further maintenance above the regular oil and filter change at some stage of its life. Take antifreeze for example, which has a scheduled replacement interval of 50,000 kilometres or after three years. If this fluid stops getting changed once the vehicle is out of warranty, you can expect component corrosion due to fluid contamination or dilution. This can cause a major cooling system failure, typically at the start of that long awaited summer road trip.

For those who have kept on top of their annual servicing, you may have been rewarded with years of low repair costs as a result. The decision to buy a new car might not be so easy, because it hasn’t been triggered by a fault or problem as such.

Technology advancement never stops. While your vehicle has been aging, safety features in the market have been reaching new levels with every new car released. Refinement has also made driving easier with comfort, handling, and fuel economy constantly under the microscope. It’s important to think about the advancements in vehicle technology that have occurred since you last upgraded.

If you’re unsure about changing vehicles, it’s important to remember that a whole host of new safety features have been introduced since you were last scouring the market. These technologies are added to help improve your driving experience, and to increase occupant and pedestrian safety by minimising or preventing accidents from occurring.

The humble ABS Braking system has been enhanced by adding features like Brake Assist (BA), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). Fluid assisted power steering is pretty much a thing of the past with an electric system being added, paving the way for active lane monitoring or lane keep assists. These features go towards minimising unsafe and unplanned lane changing or swerving. The extreme demonstration of these two technologies is evident in adaptive cruise control systems. This is where the vehicle (depending on system type) takes on a semi-autonomous role where set following distances and active lane keeping are switched on and the car takes over acceleration, braking and steering.

You can find plenty of vehicle safety information online through various sources. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has published crash data for 590 passenger and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia and New Zealand. Vehicles are awarded an ANCAP safety rating of between 1 and 5 stars indicating the level of safety they provide in the event of a crash and more recently, the safety features provided to prevent a crash from occurring. The more stars, the better the vehicle performed. For second-hand vehicles there are Used Car Safety Ratings (UCSR), which provide motorists with critical information about the protection of second hand vehicles based on real-life crash data. See aa.co.nz/ucsr for more information.

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