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I "Need" a New Car

May 12, 2014

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Do I really "need" a new car? At what point do you consider a newer car to be a need?Wow! It has been a whirlwind of problems with my car lately. In case you missed here is a recap:

Prior to starting my journey to becoming debt-free in January, I almost never had to spend money on fixing/repairing my car or even really maintaining it. Sure, I put gas in regularly and I changed the oil and rotated the tires as needed, but other than that, I never had to put much time or money into my car. Then, mid-January, I had to put in a new battery after my car wouldn’t start.

About a month ago, I thought long and hard about trading my car for a newer SUV/crossover type vehicle (a Chevy Traverse was one I was considering). But, I didn’t feel comfortable adding a car payment to my budget right now, plus if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to have to tell my readers that I went out and bought a newer car just a couple months after vowing to get out of debt.

After shopping around all weekend, I decided that while I’d still LOVE to have a newer and a bit bigger vehicle, I wouldn’t be trading my car in after all.

BAM! The next week I found out that my car will need new tires soon and a piece to my turn signal switch (inside the steering wheel) broke. I decided to put off getting anything fixed or replaced, until a week or later when the turn signal failed to turn on at all. So, I sucked it up and shelled out about $90 to get this fixed.

3 days after I got my car back from the shop, a piece that holds my window in place breaks and won’t hold my window up anymore. Now I’m faced with a decision, spend another $250 to fix it or tape my window in place.

I decided to tape the window up for now since it’s not one that I roll down on a regular basis. I also didn’t want to spend the $250 on that unnecessary repair and turn around to find out that my tires need replaced ASAP. Plus, my tags and taxes are yet to paid in 2014.

Now that you’re all up to speed, you need to know that I’m still thinking about trading my car in for a newer model after these repairs are finished.

The main reason is that I’d like to get a vehicle new enough that it won’t need major repairs during the duration of my journey to becoming debt-free, especially because as a single female there aren’t a lot of things I can fix myself. My knowledge of cars is low and I’d hate to be traveling a longer distance by myself when something goes wrong.

Ideally, I’d like to complete this trade this fall or early 2015. I know I won’t be out of debt yet at this point, but my budget will be a lot more lenient at that point, having paid off at least 3 more debts. It will set me back in my journey and I know that. Because of the set-back if/when I decide to trade I want to be absolutely sure I’m making the right decision and getting a vehicle that I will be happy with for a long, long time.

If I’m being totally honest, part of me still wants to get a new-to-me car because lots of people around me have been getting new vehicles lately and I’m starting to feel left behind. In particular, my biggest Joneses bought a new-to-them car about a year ago and I’d like to have one comparable to theirs. I know this isn’t a good reason to get a newer vehicle and I know it should be about me, my goals and my budget ONLY for this decision, but it is hard to ignore external influences from my decision making process.

The one good thing is that I won’t be making an impulse decision. I’ve wanted a newer car for a while now and I’ve looked 2 or 3 different times already without “pulling the trigger”. I just want to make sure that when I decide to trade I get what I want so I don’t have to trade again for a number of years.

What do you think? Are any of these valid reasons to consider getting a new car?

Check out my Pick My Brain page if you need help balancing your budget!

Photo courtesy of: ClkerFreeVectorImages

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Kayla is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest, USA. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at ShoeaholicNoMore or follow her on Twitter.

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11 responses to “I "Need" a New Car

  1. As much as I agree that keeping up with the Jonses is not a good reason to get a new car, I agree more so that driving a reliable vehicle is a very good reason. My boyfriend leaves before me and gets home after me most days and goes away for a week frequently through the summer. My father lives on the other side of the city. So when I was shopping for a vehicle I knew it was important to have a reliable one! I chose a gently used 08 Jeep Patriot whom I affectionately call “Jerry” and we’re going great so far!

    1. Thanks DownstairsandinDebt – I agree! Reliability is a very important factor in a vehicle for me. When I get ready to do the trade, I’m going to take my time to find the right fit for me as far as price, age, mileage, etc and reliability! I’m going to try my very darndest to ignore the feeling that I need to “keep up” with those around me. Glad you love your Jeep, they are one I’ve been leaning toward myself 🙂

  2. To be honest, none of the issues recapped above are major problems with the car. Batteries and tires have a limited lifespan and are regular maintenance. A previous car I owned never had a working window, and it didn’t have any impact to using the car itself. If your putting major repairs such as replacing exhaust, belts, radiators, etc then I full heartedly agree that a new car should be on the horizon because you can’t be to careful. In the meantime, maybe that money would be better spent elsewhere. That’s just my two cents, take it as you will.

    1. That;s true Amy, none of these are super-major YET. I’m just hoping they don’t continue. Plus as it gets more and more miles it is worth less and less making me less inclined to want to fix stuff on it, but if I don’t fix it when it happens then it really won’t be worth anything when I go to trade it… Ahh decisions decisions. Good thing I’m not even going to consider trading until a couple more debts are gone.

  3. Shoe! When it rains it pours with cars. With my last car once something needed fixing something else did and it went on and on. The last straw for me was when it kept leaking from the engine and when fixed it would leak again. It was costing so much that I drove it to the car showroom leaking and bought a newish one on finance. For now everything is ok and I’m working hard to pay it off.

    It’s good that you’re taking the time to think about it because financing a car is an expensive commitment.

    1. That sounds terrible DBC! I would’ve traded it too I think. Since none of mine have been too MAJOR (yet) I’m going to take my time to decide for sure if/when I will be trading. It is a big financial decision.

  4. I think it’s good that you’re taking the time to think through this. 2015 is still a bit away and anything can happen during that time, including paying off more than three debts! This would certainly make it easier to fit a car payment into your budget.

    That said, I’m inclined to side with Amy. My boyfriend went through car repairs for a while, and he is also sick of dealing with it, just wanting a reliable car that won’t cost him much in the foreseeable future. It’s understandable when you’re faced with a barrage of repairs. I was there myself a few months ago. But then I realized it’s just part of owning a car.

    Now, if your car does break down further, and more expensive fixes come up (like $500+), then I think it’s time to re-evaluate. See how much money you have to put into your car for this year, and compare it to paying for a newer one. For what it’s worth, *knock on wood* my boyfriend’s care, while it makes some strange noises, has been perfectly fine, AND managed to travel 1,000 miles when we moved. That surprised the heck out of me, so who knows! Things may not be as bad as they seem.

    1. EM – These are all excellent points and good things to keep in mind. 2015 is still over 6 months away, so yes there is time to make debt progress yet. Hopefully the repairs will pass and be over and done with for a while so I can just keep my car and not worry about it any longer. (Though the “want” of a car is still there, sigh! Trying to avoid that one.)

  5. OK Missy, I’m gonna give you a stern talking to. Take it if you wish. Hee hee!

    First of all, how old is your car and is it fully paid for? The items you list are normal maintenance, you need to have them in your budget. They are not breaking things and are not a reason to have to get a new car.

    Second, to completely take the emotion out of it (yes I know you ‘want’ a new car, and I ‘want’ to renovate my kitchen, but I’m not gonna get it), you need to do the math, take the cost of car payments over three years and compare to an estimated cost of repairs.

    Third, you’ve gotta get those credit cards all paid off before you even think about a car. You must be paying crazy amounts of interest on those.

    Getting off my soapbox now.

    1. Thanks Debs, I supposed I needed to hear that I don’t truly need a new car at the moment. My car is paid for, so not having a car payment is nice. I will agree that the battery replacement and the tires are normal maintenance, but I disagree about the others. The turn signal switch in the steering wheel and the piece in the window tract are NOT normal maintenance issues.

      I will certainly be doing the math on everything before buying a car, so no worries there. Again, I am putting off the trade most likely until 2015 so I can get at least some of the CCs paid off before trading.

      Thanks for weighing in 🙂 Sometimes a “motherly” blogger friend is a good one to have!

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