Saturday 18 August 2018

Here are five reasons to change your older car... and five reasons to drive it 'into the ground'

Talking point: Older cars

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Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

WE are getting a lot of enquiries - dozens - from people every week with a simple question: "Should I hold onto my old car or run it into the ground?"

There are pros and cons, of course, and each instance is different but such is the volume of correspondence I suspect there are a lot of people at what we can call a crossroads.

Many have held on to their current car for a variety of reasons; obviously financial in the majority of cases. As I often say, the so-called 'recovery' hasn't put the wherewithal to pay for a newer car in most people's pockets just yet.

The reality is that many are still working off scarce resources and getting by on narrow margins.

An outlay of €7,000 to €10,000 to get them up the years represents a daunting prospect.

Typically, people are at a juncture where pre-crash household income has recovered a bit, just a bit, but other expenses have escalated. These would most likely include education costs, especially third-level for one or two of the children.

In other words changing the car was a deferred decision until better financial times returned. But they can't wait forever and understandably they are beginning to worry about repairs and running costs. So here are five reasons to change and five to hold on. I readily admit they are obvious. But sometimes that's a help because, we find, people can get quite flustered by the whole process; stating the obvious can bring a degree of clarity.

I might add that the overwhelming factor in any decision is to preserve the safety of occupant at all costs.

Five reasons to change:

1. Safety, as just mentioned. A newer, well-minded, car is many times safer. Has to be the key concern.

2. Every year that goes by stretches the money gap to a newer car even further. In a way, buying is 'saving' money and averting a bigger-sum decision.

3. With a newer car you run a lower risk of having to pay a substantial amount for major repairs.

The thing about an older car is that no matter how much you spend on it, the price you'll get as a trade-in varies minimally. It is, in truth, throwing good money after bad.

4. Non-repair running costs are likely to be much lower because both newer diesel and petrol technology, as well as other areas, means fuel consumption is improved and service intervals are lengthened.

5. If your car is pre-2008 you are most likely paying a lot more in road tax. The difference can be €500 a year.

In some cases I've come across people are paying around €1,000 a year for their old car. Also if your car is 10-years+, you'll have to do the NCT every year - as opposed to two. There are several scrappage schemes for older diesels too.

Five reasons to hold on:

1. Safety concerns apart, you've little to lose. Your car is probably not going to shed much more value and is likely at the lowest possible worth threshold. Just make sure you have it checked over by a professional.

2. Even if you have to spend a few euro over and above on maintenance, it should still be a long way off increased repayments, or preferable to pressure on disposable income or savings.

In other words why take on financial worry when you maybe don't need to?

3. If you've got a young family, the scratches and scrapes they dish out on a daily basis mean little or nothing on an old car. They most certainly do on a newer one.

4. Likewise if your children are of an age where they are learning to drive, an older car can be an ideal first-testing ground - safety permitting, of course.

5. Having the NCT every year can act as a good monitor of your car's wellbeing and alert you if there's something big looming. It's not a definitive verdict but one that maybe gives you another year without having to commit to a major purchase.

Hope this helps a bit but without doubt the most important thing to do is make sure your car is as safe as it can possibly be. Don't skimp on that.

Irish Independent

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