John is an ex-racecar driver from the South. He blogs about the latest cars and gadgets, while raising two sons.
An old car is like a well-worn, comfy sweatshirt: You've had it for years, it tells the tale of a long life through its faded colors, stains and holes. Yet, you continue to wear it because you're familiar with it, and familiarity feels good.
Your attachment to your sweatshirt is unlikely to compromise your safety; however, the same isn't true for your old car. Don't let that comfy car fall apart on you, leaving you stranded on the side of the road in Nowhere,
1. Duct Tape Holds a Part Together
If your car is so rickety that it needs the helping hand of duct tape to stay together, it's time to let it go to that big racetrack in the sky.
2. You Have a Political Campaign Bumper Sticker that Pre-dates 1995
That's just embarrassing. That Dukakis/Bentsen bumper sticker shows how little you've changed with the times and how unwilling you are to let go of the past. That past includes your car. If a Clinton/Gore or older bumper sticker is still clinging your vehicle, it's time to relegate the car to your college days where it belongs.
3. Rust Has Appeared and Replaced Your Car's Paint Job
Once your car shows signs of rust, it's time to trade it in. Floods and exposure to harsh weather can cause wear and tear on your car, potentially compromising your safety. Don't risk it. Find a vehicle, either new or second-hand, that has modern safety features.
4. Mold Has Decided to Call Your Car Home
Moldy cars are just unpleasant to drive and you're being stubborn if you insist on continuing to drive it in this condition. Mold in cars can be toxic and can cause or exacerbate allergies – also, you really don't want the humiliation of picking up your friends in a car that smells like old socks. Maybe your car has a leak in the seal between the door and window, or in the sunroof, or you've spilled countless sodas in it and then left it in the sun. However it got there, it's tough to get rid of mold in a safe, permanent manner. Instead, opt for something newer and let this vehicle go to the scrapyard where it belongs.
5. The Car Costs More to Repair Than It's Actually Worth
This is the surest sign it's time to replace your old friend. Your car will understand. Check with some used car shops or valuation guides to see how much your car is worth and compare it to your repair bill. If the difference in cost isn't pretty, it's time to start researching new cars on Kelley Blue Book. Over time, repairs will become more frequent and costly, so know when to call it quits.