Ten reasons why buying a new car might be cheaper than you think

(BPT) – Are you driving around in a car that’s a decade or more old? If so, you’re not alone. The number of older vehicles on the road in the United States has increased by more than 17 million since 2009, according to Experian Automotive. The average age of the more than 245 million vehicles on U.S. roads is up to a nationwide-high of 11 years old.

As your car ages and the miles pile up, it’s important to consider your options before you’re left on the side of the road wondering why you didn’t upgrade sooner. While buying a new car might seem like the pricier way to go, just think of the costs you pay to keep your old car running – constant trips to the shop for repairs can certainly start to add up and often come without warning.

But buying a new car these days doesn’t have to break the bank, either. With new safety features including crash avoidance technology and anti-theft systems, you can actually save some money in the long run, especially when it comes to insurance coverage.

Erie Insurance vice president of personal lines underwriting, David Freeman, speaks from personal experience. He recently traded his 2007 two-door coupe for a brand new 2013 compact SUV, which includes anti-lock brakes, air bags, a back-up camera and electronic stability control, and his car insurance rate actually went down by 3 percent.

“Safety features for older cars were all designed to protect occupants in a crash. Today’s technology is designed to help avoid the crash entirely,” says Freeman. “Cars with the latest safety features tend to crash less, and insurers take that into account when setting rates. On the flip side, older vehicles on the road do not have these latest technological safety features, so they tend to crash more and therefore may cost more to insure.”

Here are 10 increasingly common new-car features that could help reduce your insurance premiums. Some include specific insurance discounts, while others simply lower the overall cost of insurance because of their positive effect on reducing crashes or thefts.

1. Air bags

2. Anti-lock brakes

3. Passive restraint systems

4. Alarm systems/anti-theft devices

5. Automatic vehicle disabling devices

6. Back-up cameras

7. Electronic stability control

8. Automatic braking systems

9. Intelligent cruise control

10. Lane departure warning systems

Because discounts vary by state and coverage, you’ll want to talk to your insurance agent. Also, some of these discounts will be applied automatically when you tell your agent what kind of car you drive, but it’s always a good idea to double check to make sure you’re getting all the discounts you deserve.

So if you think it might be time to spend money on an upgrade, remember which features could not only make you safer, but also save you money on your insurance premiums. You might be able to put the money you save toward another new car 11 years from now.