Car Care

When is a good time to change my car?


Often in life, we find ourselves sticking to the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy.

Whether it’s your house or your job, the thought of changing what you’re used to and going through the process of replacing it can seem more hassle than it’s worth.

If you own a car, you should always assess your options and ask yourself questions like:

  • When is a good time to upgrade the car I have?
  • Is my car still safe enough to be on the road, transport new family additions, or for a learner to drive?
  • What service and repairs will my car require this year, and how much will I need to budget for it?

Is this the year to upgrade?

Just like all other forms of technology, vehicle technology is ever-adapting and tends to advance pretty quickly. Improvements in construction, safety and efficiency also progress forward with new car releases.

The increase in the numbers of electric vehicles available might also be the catalyst to make some drivers look at a new, greener way of getting from A to B. There is also the current Clean Car Discount policy where eligible new and used BEVs and PHEVs can receive a rebate incentive of up to $8,625 making them that much more affordable.

A vehicle upgrade could give you features that you previously didn’t have, such as a higher ANCAP or UCSR safety rating, reverse camera and parking sensors, additional airbags, an infotainment system with navigation, more USB ports (important for the teens) and universal phone pairing apps like Apple Carplay and Android Auto.

Do you have upcoming learner drivers in the family?

It’s never too early to take a look at a vehicle they will be learning to drive in. Will it be a Manual or an Auto? Will it have adequate visibility for the driver to safely navigate the streets (blind spots, interior vision)? Will it be easily seen by other motorists (vehicle colour and size)?

Most importantly, always try and buy the safest choice of car available within your budget – look for either the car’s ANCAP or Used Car Safety Rating (UCSR) at rightcar.govt.nz. We recommend a vehicle equipped with Stability Control (ESC) as a minimum.

Repairs and Servicing

Most vehicles require a service at least once every 12 months, so make sure to make a note in your diary of when yours is next due. It might also be a good idea to think about what recommendations were made at the last service or WoF inspection.

Technicians often make notes on your invoices and WoF inspection sheet, outlining what they recommend to be replaced at your next service or before your next WoF inspection.

Common issues

  • It could be that your tyres passed on the day of the WoF inspection but would likely not pass the next WoF inspection.
  • Your brake pads could be getting thin, and depending on how much driving you did between inspections, your brake pads might need replacing.
  • Your service provider may also have noted your antifreeze concentration being weak, or your sparkplugs are worn, and note that both might need to be replaced at your next vehicle service.

As your vehicle ages and reaches certain milestones (either kms or age) be prepared that a service might consist of more than just a standard oil and filter change.

Try and set some money aside each month in preparation for vehicle repairs and servicing over and above the norm. It’s also important to note that if you’re changing a vehicle, to avoid large repair or servicing costs, make sure you get the new vehicle inspected prior to purchase, as the previous owner might have had the same thoughts. To avoid unexpected repair bills the AA recommend an independent AA Pre Purchase Vehicle Inspection to give you complete peace of mind.

Do I need a car?

You might have a work-supplied company car or perhaps you live in an area where it’s easy to walk to most places you need to get to, or via public transport, bike, or e-scooter.

During these recent lockdowns many of us have had our vehicles locked away, not getting the daily use they are accustomed to. One thing many motorists have learned from these recent lockdowns is that when it has come time to dust off the cobwebs and use their vehicle, they find themselves requiring a jump start.

Maybe after the year we have all just had you may have discovered that you don’t need to own a car and perhaps you want to sell it. After all, many of us have adapted to work from home now plus there are other options like ride share options available now, which allow you to use and pay for a car only as and when you need one.

How the AA can help you when buying a car

Vehicle experts you can trust

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