While we may relish that new car smell the reality for most is quite different. The average car on UK roads is now over seven years old.
In May 2000 I bought my first new car, a Sapphire Blue Mark One Ford Focus complete with new car smell, a tape deck and a 1599 cc petrol engine. Much as I loved it, it was a short sighted investment as within 12 months I was working as a motoring journalist and the succession of brand new cars that adorned my driveway weekly soon took the shine off my, by then, nearly new Ford.
Over the years I continued to tax and insure it but as the gaps between outings lengthened the dust (and as is apparent from the photo above the leaves) gathered and even the insurance lapsed but I still plan to put it back on the road, one of these days!
However just because your car is old or has high mileage is not a reason to change it. Today’s cars are far more reliable than before so if it’s not giving you any problems, hold on to it. Taking good care of your car is an easy way to prolong its driving life and cut costs so do regular checks on the oil, fluid levels, tyres and so on. This may sound boring and time consuming but it pays huge dividends in the long run.
If you are buying an older second hand car opt for a petrol car over a diesel one as petrol cars last longer. The reason is simply that they are generally much less complicated than diesel cars.
Be kind to your car and drive gently, so accelerate slowly and avoid harsh braking. In winter allow your car a minute or so to warm up before driving it hard.
The paint work on your car is the first line of defence against rusted body panels so if possible park your car in a garage but if not then park in the shade.
Find a mechanic you can trust. Maintaining an old car depends on a good partnership between you and your mechanic.
Unfortunately there will come a point where constant repairs become costly so take advice from your mechanic as to when there’s no longer any point spending money on it. The time may have come to send it on its way to the big car park in the sky.
6th January, 2016