Sometimes repair bills for vehicles just keep on rolling in, leaving us with no other option than to upgrade. However, most of the time we generally get to choose when to replace our car. Though changing lifestyles, desires and needs are often key influencing factors, other aspects that start us thinking about buying a new car are its age and mileage and the impact those factors have upon its safety.
But putting a number against the ‘ideal age’ or ‘ideal mileage’ to replace your car is difficult. While assuming Kiwis will fall into two patterns of behaviour characterised by their urban or country dwelling is a somewhat broad assumption, it’s perhaps the simplest way to highlight some of those challenges.
For example, Daniel lives out in the wop wops in rural Taranaki. He relies on his wheels to get him everywhere on a daily basis. It takes him 20 minutes to get to his local dairy and he travels long distances to get in and out of New Plymouth every day. Daniel easily racks up the mileage on his car driving about 25,000km a year.
Charlotte, on the other hand, is an Aucklander born and bred. She’s lucky enough to have found a car share situation to get herself in and out of work during the weekdays. Her own car allows her to get about during the weekends. She travels around 7000km each year.
You soon begin to realise why putting an ‘ideal age’ or ‘ideal mileage’ is harder than you first expect. The number that tends to cause drivers to recoil when they check the odometer is 100,000km. Daniel is going to smash that threshold in four years. For Charlotte though, her car will keep going for 14 years before she gets close.
For someone like Daniel, going by mileage would be a much better judgment. Vehicles that reach 100,000km on the odo will usually require a major service which means all fluids, filters and the cam belt (if fitted) will need replacing. And, following the manufacturer’s 100,000km servicing schedule can see bills heading upwards from $1500. Knowing the potential cost outlay that comes with a 100,000km service, even on a relatively new car, may just be enough to persuade a frequent motorist to consider buying a new one.
On the other hand, going by mileage alone would leave Charlotte with a much older vehicle. Over time, her car will incur higher maintenance costs as various components wear and require replacement in order to keep the car going.
And, more importantly, a 14-year-old vehicle would be a long way behind the curve in technology advancements, in particular the latest assists and warning systems that have ultimately been introduced into the market to help keep drivers safer on the road. Charlotte would be best to review her choice of vehicle when she can afford to do so — but AA Motoring would advise that she does so long before 10 years have gone by.
Keeping your car in ship-shape condition will increase its life span, and the more regularly you get it looked at, the more manageable the annual costs will be. The annual Warrant of Fitness is a legal requirement to keep the car safe on the roads, so someone who covers a lot of distance would hopefully consider a more regular servicing schedule.
Most Kiwis upgrade their car less than every five years but budgets, busy lifestyles and our natural optimism (“If ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”) all come in to play. Because of the exhaustive list of factors, AA Motoring doesn’t have a one-size-fits all-answer.
We recommend you don’t get too far behind on safety. While brand new cars are expected to give consumers a vast array of safety tech, you’ll be amazed by how quickly much of the technology is filtering into the used car market. It’s not seen as a luxury add-on any more, it’s a market expectation.
Keeping your vehicle as modern as possible means you’ll be able to avoid increased maintenance costs that come with owning any car over a period of time.