When Should I Replace My Old Car?


From: David

I have done 265,000km in my 2002 Mazda 323 SP20.

Someone said if I change the injectors and fix the wheel bearings it should keep going OK.

I need a reliable car as I drive from Menai to Wollongong (65km) four days and week.

Rego is due in July.

If I spend $20,000 to $25,000 max on a new car would you recommend a Hyundai Veloster, Hyundai i30, Volkswagen Golf or Mazda3?

Is diesel good for the high kilometres?



All cars wear out. A 12-year-old car with 265,000km on the çlock is approaching its use-by date. Hypothetically, though, you could keep it going for ever with enough maintenance.

The maintenance could start getting expensive - but I wouldn't do maintenance unless it was required. If the injectors are working and the bearings are still OK there's no need to change them. Inspection at regular intervals and replacement when worn out is the way to go - that's a big part of all servicing.

Unfortunately, with a car like that, you're 12 years out of date on efficiency, safety and convenience technology in your car, and this is a factor to consider as well. Your car is, comparatively, a death-trap in a crash, compared with a modern five-star car. And it lacks lifesaving safety features like electronic stability control, which helps avoid crashes in the first place. This is at least as important a consideration as reliability.

As for new cars, Veloster is OK although personally I don't really like its dual-clutch transmission and I think you'll struggle finding one for $25k. (The turbo Veloster has a conventional auto but the atmo one gets a dual-clutch gearbox. The turbo drives better but is a bit thirsty for your driving.)

The Volkswagen Golf is a beautiful car but Volkswagen has had too many serious quality problems for me to recommend that to you in good conscience. Their dealer network and the company itself are also among the worst at customer service. So, when something goes wrong, you're screwed, basically.

For me it would be between the Mazda3 and Hyundai i30 - big warranty and great value on the Hyundai, superb build quality and design on the Mazda. More on the cars here: Hyundai i30 Vs Mazda3 Vs Toyota Corolla Vs Honda Civic.

Diesel is better on long distances because of the fuel consumption, but I think it's outside your price range. Read more on petrol versus diesel. Diesel will drink 30 per cent less fuel, but costs more up front. More on the fuels here: Petrol Vs Diesel.

When (if) you decide to buy a new car, send me another message - the brokerage can get you a sharp price on whatever you want. More on how that works here.

If you plan on going to a dealership and negotiating, here's everything you need to know:

I hope this helps.