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Time to change your car

Time to change your car

Top tips on deciding when to change your car

Thinking about changing your car? You might be looking for a bigger vehicle to accommodate your growing family. Perhaps you’ve got a new job with a longer commute. Or maybe you just fancy upgrading your rusty old banger to something shiny and new.

Whatever your reasons for looking for a new car/newer car, this will be one of your biggest (and most expensive!) purchases. That’s why it’s important to take your time, do your research and ultimately make the right decision.

Car Guide takes the mystery out of buying a used car. We use historical and current automotive data in real-time to predict the reliability of a vehicle. We also provide advice on the components that are most likely to fail. And if you’re signed up to Car Guide, our expenditure tool will even alert you when it’s the right time to change your current vehicle.


If you’re wondering when to change your car, read on to find out how Car Guide can help. As the UK’s only personalised used car buyer’s guide, we’re ready to help save you time and money during the car buying process.

When should you change your car?

Back in 1994, the average age of cars on the road was 6.7 years, and this had risen steadily to 8.2 years by 2018. Hardly surprising when you consider the advancements in-car technology during the past few years – after all, in most cases, modern cars are built to last.

What is the best length of time to keep a car? 

Should I change my car every 3 years?

In the past, people often bought a car and kept it for three years before moving on to the next one. This was usually because the warranty for their original car would run out after three years was up.

These days, new car warranties are still in place for a minimum of three years (although in some cases they cover up to seven years). However, sometimes the warranty timeframe is based on when you reach a certain amount of mileage.

If you’re considering changing your car, you’ll also need to consider the impact of car depreciation.

What is car depreciation?

Car depreciation= the difference between the price you originally paid for the car and the price you would be able to sell it for today

On average, this will have the most significant impact during a car’s first year after manufacture. During that year, the car will probably only be worth between 65 and 85% of its original value. By the time the car is five years old, its value will have dropped to somewhere between 30 and 40%.

Bear in mind that some car makes and models are affected by depreciation more quickly than others.

Here are a few ideas on how you can help to reduce the impact of depreciation on your pride and joy:

  • Try to keep the car’s mileage as low as possible. We know, you do actually want to drive the car! Just think twice before making lots of short journeys – the miles soon add up!
  • Ensure it is regularly serviced, ideally to manufacturer’s guidelines (and keep the paperwork in a safe place)
  • Make sure any repairs are carried out in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations – where possible, ask for official parts to be used
  • Check your car over carefully before taking it for its MOT – see our article on ‘When is my MOT due‘ which has a checklist to find out how to prepare your car for its MOT
  • Keep it super shiny with regular cleaning and maintenance

In a nutshell, there are no hard and fast rules on when is the ‘right’ time to change your car. The answer to that question will depend on the car and your individual circumstances.

Luckily, Car Guide can analyse all of this information and give you a friendly nudge when it’s time to start thinking about changing your car. 

How much could I sell my old car for?

This is the part where you’ll need to do your homework. Whatever you do, don’t just accept the first part-exchange/trade-in offer at any old car dealership.

To make sure you get the best deal for your current car, use Car Guide’s car comparison tool to find similar vehicles for sale on multiple car search sites. That way, you’ll be able to establish the likely value of your car (and check out the competition in your local area!)

Knowing how much you could expect to receive for your car will be useful when setting a budget for your new set of wheels. Plus, it will help you out when you’re trying to negotiate a deal.

By the way, if the very thought of trying to haggle sends shivers down your spine, be sure to read our advice on how to negotiate a better deal.

Selling privately vs. to a dealer


When you are selling a car, you’ve got several options. You can either sell it privately (yourself), to a dealer or to a used car-buying company. Here are the advantages and disadvantages with all of these:

Selling privately

By selling your car yourself, you’ll be better able to settle on a good retail price (rather than a wholesale price, which you’ll get with a dealer or larger company). The main downside is that you’ll be doing all of the leg work yourself (which can be taxing): posting it online, creating a classified ad and dealing with the admin of answering phone calls, emails and arranging appointments.

Selling to a dealer

Whereas selling privately can potentially be a slow process, selling to a dealership is faster. You’ll also be dealing with less paperwork, admin and you’ll be working with a trusted entity. The downside is that you are haggling with a company whose end game is to make money. Likely, they’ll only be willing to pay a lower, wholesale price.

Selling to a used car-buying service

This will probably turn out to be the fastest way of selling your car hassle-free. You also may be able to get a better deal by doing a market comparison and avoiding hidden fees. Take a look at our guide to see who made our list of the best websites for selling your car. Much like dealers, however, you likely won’t get the best price for your car.

Found a car you like?


Hurrah! You’ve done your research, trawled through hundreds (or even thousands) of used car listings and found ‘the one’.

We get it – buying a car is undeniably exciting. But try not to get ahead of yourself. There are a few items you’ll need to tick off your to-do list before you can start showing off your new motor.

If you’re wondering where to start, don’t panic – Car Guide has got you covered.

  • Find out what to watch out for when buying a used car: our guide explains how to avoid landing yourself with an unexpected bill shortly after you pick up your new car.
  • Learn about the most common used car scams and how to avoid them. From clocking to cloning (and plenty more in between) our guide explains how to spot the signs of a scam.
  • Become a test drive pro and find out how to spot common problems on used cars with our test drive checklist.

Ready to buy your next car? Check out Car Guide today and discover all the ways we can save you time and money. We always recommend doing a vehicle check before purchasing so that you can check the value of the car, car costs, including upcoming car maintenance and more.

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