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Making a Green Decision to Replace Your Vehicle

Living green certainly extends to your vehicle, but the right time to replace your wheels isn’t always obvious. Maybe you know you can get by with a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle because the kids are off to college; maybe you can’t keep your older model car running efficiently anymore. But maybe things aren’t so clear-cut, so consider these points as you make your decision:

  • Mechanical condition: Compare how much the vehicle costs, or is likely to cost, per year in repairs and maintenance given its age. If your mechanic tells you that you have seriously expensive repairs ahead, or if parts are becoming hard to find, it may be time to let go.

  • Suitability: Is it still the right vehicle for your needs? If you’re driving a sporty coupe but you need room for car seats, replacement may be your best option.

  • Fuel efficiency: If you switch from a heavy drinker to a light sipper, how much money could you save each year based on the miles you usually drive?

  • Insurance: Check with your insurance company to find out the cost difference in insuring your older vehicle and the newer models that you’re considering. Although insurance savings shouldn’t be the sole factor in your decision, it could make keeping the older vehicle more economical — or if you’re considering a switch from a sporty vehicle to a family-oriented one, the change may be more cost-effective.

Reducing the decision to financial nuts and bolts can remove the emotion from the choice — you may be surprisingly attached to that combination of metal and rubber.

If you decide to replace your vehicle and you’re not yet ready for alternative fuels, at least choose the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can find. Find information about fuel economy ratings from the U.S. government or Consumer Reports (enter fuel economy into the search box).

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