Nine things farmers should do on the motoring front this year
The years fly by and suddenly the sparkling new car we 'only bought' a few years ago is showing its age and beginning to cost money for upkeep.
Or the children have outgrown the family saloon; or the family has grown up and you don't need the 7-seater any more. Or the family is growing and you need a 7-seater like never before. And so on.
So I thought it might be an idea to give an outline of how you can save some money, possible headaches while streamlining on practicality and relevance by outlining nine things worth doing this year to help you decide what your next motoring step, or steps, should be.
Take a couple of hours before the calving, lambing and sowing starts in earnest and see what's the deal with your wheels - and those driving them.
1 Assess in detail the current state and condition of the road-going vehicle(s) on your farm. I mean all vehicles - big 4x4s and small hatches. Ask yourself if you are happy enough from a safety and mechanical perspective. When did each vehicle last get a full service, for example? Are the tyres of sufficient tread depth?
2 Is there a car that 'owes you nothing' and is still going strong but is really costing a lot in poor fuel consumption or high road tax (pre-2008 registration). Would a newer one save in the medium term?
3 Does everyone driving a road-going motor in your family know the latest towing rules - trailer weight etc? You could be driving illegally with a trailer if you don't have a proper licence or if the weight is inappropriate.
4 Are trailers properly roadworthy/lit and being asked to do what they were designed for and no more?
5 Trawl the insurance market for better quotes for all family members, but especially the younger ones. You probably do so as part of your overall farm insurance strategy but it can be worthwhile specifically targeting the motoring side of things too. Pile on the pressure; insurance prices are falling, we're told. Big potential to save money.
6 If you are thinking of buying, consider selling your trade-in privately if you have the time and patience. You may not get a great price but that might be more than compensated for by being a 'cash buyer' in the other transaction. You could save hundreds, possibly more. On the other hand you could be left with a car you don't need. So check hard to see what your car is worth. Also check a few dealers to ask what it will cost you to change.
7 Should you buy diesel or petrol? Many farm cars are diesel but if you are only tipping around in one (under 15,000km/year) you might save money to opt for a petrol. For a start it will cost at least €2,000 less than an equivalent diesel. But stick with diesel if you are doing 20,000km a year. Diesel is not dead and you'll save on running costs at a certain mileage. What about a hybrid? Would it suit your demands? Again running costs are important here.
8 As mentioned at the introduction, is your car too big or small for your current family needs? I see a lot of single occupancy large cars down the country. Do you need your large saloon? By the same token, are you endangering safety by cramming people into a small hatch?
9 Check out the most cost-effective way of buying a new or fresh used car? Is it PCP, bank, credit union loan or your own funds? Is leasing better than ownership? Should you buy an 'newsed' UK import as opposed to a new locally sourced motor? Check - and save money in doing so.
All this takes time but even with this cursory run-through it is impossible not to sense the fact that you could save a lot of money, hassle, headaches and worry by taking two hours out of your busy schedule. And I'm sure you'll find even more things to assess when you get down to it.
For Stories Like This and More
Download the Free Farming Independent App