7 Red Flags That Might Mean You Need a New Car


Unless you’re the kind of person who collects Lambos for fun, chances are good that you need your car to last as long as possible. But how do you know when it’s time to let go? These are warning signs that you shouldn’t ignore.

Outdated Entertainment System

Is the radio necessary for your car to function? No, but an outdated system is a good sign that your car is well past middle-aged. My first car only had a tape deck!

My current ride has both a CD player and Bluetooth. The latest models usually skip the CD player now in favor of satellite radio or streaming from your phone. If you’re a generation behind, you might want to start saving for a new ride.

Unusual Noises

If your car starts making a new noise, it probably means that something is wrong. Grinding or squealing could mean the brake pads need to be replaced. Backfiring is a serious problem that needs to be fixed fast.

Chugging, clunking, or thudding also indicate that something has gone seriously amiss under the hood.

Lacking Safety Features

Back-up cameras are now standard in vehicles. New cars may also have smart safety features, such as sensors that detect an obstacle in your path.

If your car lacks the latest safety features, you might consider trading up. Not only will you be safer on the road, but you could save on car insurance, too.


This isn’t just a red flag. It’s a giant flashing neon sign! Anytime smoke comes out of your car, it means something is seriously wrong. Get it looked at right away. The issue might be fixable, or it might be time to think about a new car.

Expensive Repairs

It’s worth paying $1000 to fix a car worth ten grand. But if the Blue Book value on your car is close to the cost of a major repair… well, it’s time to say goodbye.

It doesn’t make sense to pay more than 50% of the car’s value for a repair.

Major Lifestyle Change

There are some very good reasons to get a new car that have nothing to do with the hardware. If you experience a big life change, then your old car might not make sense anymore.

Trading in your convertible for a minivan is a cliche–but if you’ve got a couple of kids to drive around, what other choice is there?

Hitting 100,000 Miles

Cars don’t automatically stop working at 100k miles. However, it’s a good idea to start saving for repairs–or even a replacement–no later than this odometer milestone. Statistically, you’re going to start seeing bigger and more frequent problems.