Thursday, June 08, 2017

Car Troubles

I can't help but feel that I'm heading toward the end of my relationship with my current car.  I'd always maintained that it only had to last until the mortgage was paid off, then I'd think about replacing it with something that didn't have so many niggling problems.  Well, this week it did its best to fulfill this prophecy on its own account.  Yesterday it went in for what should have been a simple service. I didn't get it back again until lunchtime today, accompanied by a huge garage bill.  To be frank, I could have bought a new car with the amount I had to fork out today.  I'm really not happy.  That's another chunk of the windfall I got from my mortgage endowment policy pay out down the drain barely two months after receiving it.  Of course, I've had all the usual smart arses telling me that I should have bought a new car instead of having the work done. 

Well, it is easy to be wise after the event.  The fact is that, when I took the car to the garage, I had no idea they were going to come up with the list of urgent remedial action needed that they did.  (I have to say, I'm more than mildly surprised that none of this came up as advisories at the time of the last MoT in October).  Moreover, I have to have a car in order to do my job - being off the road yesterday caused havoc - and buying a new one takes time.  Just finding one I might want to buy takes an age.  So, I really had no choice but to have the current one repaired, regardless of the expense.  An expense which could get higher - I only had the essential work done on the car, there's a whole list of other stuff which allegedly needs doing if it is to get through another MoT.  However, I'm afraid that, on top of the expense of replacing the clutch last year, this latest episode has left me feeling that I just want to cut my losses.  I really don't want to put it through the MoT again when I know that will incur yet more huge expense. 

All my instincts are telling me to run the bloody thing for the next few months so as to get some value from the money it has eaten up, then replace it before the MoT in October.  The trouble is that the money I spent keeping the car on the road this week constitutes a large chunk of the money I'd been planning to spend on its replacement.  Consequently, I'm inclined to follow my late Uncle Charlie's advice (he was in the motor trade for many years after the war), which was to buy something cheaply, provided it had a long MoT and just run it - no proper services, just change the oil and filters - until that was close to expiry. He'd then get it checked over to see what was needed to get it through the MoT: if it was minor stuff, he'd get it  MoT'd for another year, if it was likely to be expensive, he got rid of it and started again.  Likewise, if it suffered a major fault between MoTs, he got rid of it and started again.  He reckoned that, selected wisely, a cheap old car could safely be relied upon for two or three years service at minimal expense.

In fact, I've already been doing some looking and found some interesting potential bargains, particularly amongst the cars taken as part exchanges by dealers.  These are often in decent nick and need little done to them.  The only proviso is that they are often older, larger cars with bigger engines, which not only potentially increases running costs (lower mpg) but also attracts a higher rate of road tax and insurance.  But it's all swings and roundabouts: you can get a lot of car for a low price.  My other main worry about buying older vehicles is durability - the fact is that the mileages I have to put in for work and, most significantly, the sorts of roads I'm also forced to use, are what have damn near killed my current car.  I'm slightly worried that buying something with an already high mileage might be tempting fate,  We'll see. 



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