Deciding to buy a new car is never a decision to be taken lightly, and it can be especially stressful at the end of the year. Although you have no doubt that a new car would be nice, your budget may be stretched thin after summer vacations and holiday gift-buying. If you’re struggling with questions of necessity, practicality, and affordability, here’s how to decide if you should buy a new car before the new year.
Image via Flickr by emilio labrador
Consider the Condition of Your Car
The first thing to consider is the condition of your current vehicle. How many miles are on your car, and does it have any major problems? Cosmetic damage such as dings and dents may leave you longing for a shiny new car, but that doesn’t mean you need one. If your car is still relatively new and running well, you may be better off investing in your current vehicle. A fresh coat of paint and some detailing work could give you a new-car feel without the hefty price tag.
Calculate the Cost of Ownership
If your car does need some mechanical work, get an estimate for the cost of repairs. Make a list of any other costs of ownership, such as your car insurance premium and the amount you spend on gas each month. Compare this list to the costs associated with a new car. Depending on your car’s fuel efficiency and safety ratings, you may be able to save money by upgrading to a newer model. Ask your insurance agent for a quote on the car you’re considering, and calculate how much you will save each year on gas.
Check for Holiday Sales
The end of the year can be a great time to buy a car. Although prices fluctuate throughout the year, some times really are better than others when you’re shopping for a new car. In November and December, you can take advantage of Black Friday, end-of-year clearances, and other holiday sales to find exceptional deals. Rather than setting your sights on the very latest model, shop a model year behind for the best prices. The more flexible you are in regards to the make, the model, and the year, the better your chances of scoring a bargain.
Consider the New Technology
If it’s still a close call, research the technology that has come out since your vehicle was brand new. In general, newer cars are safer, which could save you money on insurance and — in the event of an accident — even save your life. You may want to upgrade to an AWD or 4WD vehicle for snowy weather. New infotainment features can make your morning commute more pleasant, and built-in Wi-Fi comes in handy during family vacations and business trips alike. The added safety and convenience may be well worth the cost of a new car.
At the end of the day, only you can decide if you should buy a new car now, next year, or even further down the road. However, weighing factors such as repair costs, insurance premiums, new technology, and holiday promotions can help make your choice a little clearer.