You want to get the most out of all the everyday things you own and use. For food, you want to make sure you don't lose any perishable groceries to mold or expiration dates. The toothpaste tube in the bathroom often gets to the point where you are flattening it and scrunching the last bit of teeth-cleaner out. You will see longevity when it comes to non-consumables, too. It can be wearing shoes until they become sandals, squinting through cracks on your smartphone screen until your next phone upgrade or shoveling snow away with a half-eroded snow pusher.
Longevity is great, because it ensures products are maximized, which helps not only the environment, but your wallet, too. Even things that have recommended wear periods like electric toothbrush heads (~3 months), disposable razors (~10 uses), running shoes (~750 kilometres) will oft get a lot more usage. For one, it can be hard to keep track of how much you've used an item and most will err on the side of using it more. And, even if you did know how much you've used an item, not having a replacement readily available can lead to extra usage. Or, simply believing that an item can still continue to be used for a short time more because it looks "fine."
An interesting thing about our society is rarely do we see people treating automobiles like their household consumables. Automobiles are replaced almost arbitrarily. Of course, in some cases, a car becomes so expensive to repair or unsafe because of age and mileage. But more often, it will be because a newer vehicle is more appealing and within budget. Or a perception that getting a newer vehicle will be cheaper in the long run. This view stems from the idea that your current car will depreciate more or a recent repair bill was an omen of more to come.
These ideas are not true in almost every case (excluding collectible/classic cars). Unless you are going from an older luxury or unreliable car to a regular car of good reliability (think Toyota and Honda), it probably won't make sense. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does my car require a repair that costs more than $2500 to function?
- Does my car brand appear in the bottom 10 brands of the JD Power Dependability Study of that year and have I seen evidence of poor reliability in my car?
- Am I selling my car to buy a used car that is at least 4 years old and that will either use noticeably less fuel or be more reliable or both?
- Am I selling my car to give/sell it to a family member who needs a vehicle now?
- Am I selling my car to buy a vehicle that I need for work (Ex: You are selling your compact car to get a work truck for a landscaping business you will use the truck for very frequently)?
- Am I selling my car to use public transit, taxis, car-sharing, bicycles and/or walking exclusively?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you may be right in considering the sale of your car, but it will still require some research. However, if your only answer was "no", then you may want to reconsider as I would have a hard time seeing any justification on whether you should upgrade your wheels.
Another important point to remember - even if your car has depreciated a lot already, it likely will still depreciate at a slower rate than any newer vehicle. Only in very specific circumstances will this not be the case. For example, Subarus and Audis that are at least a couple of years old have a slower rate of depreciation than other cars of the same year because they are all-wheel-drive cars that retain appeal in winter climates.
If you recently made a repair to your vehicle that cost you a bit more than you liked (which is usually every single time it's more than a $50 oil change) and you've vowed to swap your car for something that spends less time being serviced, consider that the probability you have another problem is actually slightly lower because you just fixed something. Plus, the amount you just spent on fixing it will never be recuperated by selling your car.
Lastly, cars are made to last longer than you think, and unless there's a big conspiracy between carmakers to make cars fail at a certain mileage, newer cars should go even further. If the odometer reading 466,000 km on the last taxi (a newer Toyota Prius) I was in is any evidence, you can bet there are plenty of extra kilometres to go around. Despite the growing trend towards Uber and car-sharing, it's worth taking a page out of the taxi handbook - get the most out of your car, too.