When is it time to trade in your old car for a new one, and how old is too old? Is there a time when an old car becomes an insurance liability?

According to RAC, Mike Hawes, The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Ltd (SMMT) chief executive, said: “the average car on our roads is now the oldest since records began some 20 years ago, as drivers held on to their existing vehicles for longer.

Encouraging drivers to upgrade to the newest, cleanest lowest emission cars, regardless of fuel source, is essential for the UK to meet its ambitious climate change targets.”

This can leave motorists wondering whether they should stick with their functioning older vehicles or look to upgrade to a newer model if this is possible.

Does The Year Of Your Car Affect Insurance?

A key consideration when looking at your car make, model and age is how these factors will affect your car insurance.

On one hand, car manufacturers are always testing and improving design and engineering capabilities. A new car with added safety and security features appeals to insurers and can have a positive effect on your premium, as you are seen as lower risk. Such features include:

  • Airbags
  • Anti-lock brakes
  • Car alarms
  • Immobilisers

However, more often than not, most older cars are cheaper to insure than newer cars, all else being equal, because cars lose value as they age, so an insurer won't have to pay out as much in the event of a total loss.

Whether you have an older car or a brand new one, don’t get too hung up on the age of your vehicle. It is one of many factors considered when your insurance is calculated.

Can You Class An Older Car As A Classic Car?

You may think that getting specialist classic car insurance may be the answer when insuring an older vehicle, but there are few factors to take into account.

Often, insurers define a classic car according to a combination of most of the following:

  • More than 15 years old
  • Driven less than 5,000 miles a year
  • Kept in mint condition
  • Used as a second car

If your car doesn’t fit these criteria, then it most likely will not be considered a classic car when it comes to your insurance. Exactly which makes and models count as classic cars will vary between insurers.

What’s the Oldest Used Car You Should Consider?

You may wonder how old a car you should buy when finding the right one to meet your needs. If so, here are three key things to consider:

1. Reliability

If reliability is a priority for you, you probably don’t want to buy a vehicle that’s too old. Generally speaking, the older a car is, the less reliable it’s likely to be, even if it’s a well-maintained, low-mileage vehicle.

However, if you just want a vehicle to drive locally, and you can find an older, cheaper model, then there is absolutely no harm in doing so – it’s about what suits you.

2. Technology

Newer vehicles tend to have better technology and equipment fitted than older ones.

For example, ten years ago, heated rear seats were considered a huge luxury reserved for only the most expensive cars, but they are very common today. So if you know that a high-tech vehicle is something that you are looking for, bear this in mind.

3. Safety

It is often considered that in terms of safety, the newer the car is and the more expensive it was originally, the safer it will be. This is a similar factor to the reliability factor, but having peace of mind on the road can mean one thing to one driver and something different to another. Regardless of what it means to you, it’s important to always feel safe when you are driving.

No matter what car you drive, feeling safe behind the wheel and having peace of mind on the road is vital.