Thursday, September 15, 2016

Which is the Wiser Choice – Buying a New Car or Making Your Existing Car Last


Today we have a great post for you from our friend Ethan over in the UK. He shares some good points with us that can help us save thousands on transportation expenses.

"Once upon a time, when the month of September rolled around, it marked the arrival of the next year’s car models, and with them, a rekindled lust among motoring enthusiasts and common folk alike. And while the cars might have changed dramatically, the lust has not, and millions of consumers find themselves faced with a true first-world dilemma: Do I take the plunge for a shiny new car, or hang onto that aging Mini or Citroen for another year? Left to our lust and ego, the choice would be simple, but in the aftermath of a nearly decade-long financial and employment crisis, we begrudgingly allow our logical selves to creep in and speak their piece. Sometimes, we even listen to what that annoying logical self has to say.

Can you afford a new car?


Next to your house, your car is likely the second most expensive purchase you'll make, and as such, warrants careful consideration. Even if you’re feeling a surge in confidence that financial hard times are in our rear-view mirror, you can’t really ignore the fact that while most people’s earnings have stagnated over the last few decades, the prices of new cars have done anything but. Even today’s modest economy models are priced much higher than many exotic vehicles from a couple of decades ago, while the more prestigious luxury cars now command a price higher than what many people spend on their homes.
These changes, along with many others – perhaps including our own rising level of maturity – are naturally increasing the volume at which our logical selves addresses us. The result is an apparent polarization in the marketplace, with most buyers looking to the extremes and purchasing either the most economical models or to an even greater extent, the more prestigious premium brands. The median-priced models have seen their popularity shrink.

Two prominent factors in buyers’ decision making are the availability of streamlined purchasing methods and the emergence of creative financing programs that serve to lower the monthly payments. The latter is a concern shared by buyers who can only afford a modest monthly payment as well as those who opt for the highest levels of luxury and/or performance, but must still be able to squeeze the monthly cost into their budgets.

Many people at both ends of the auto-buying spectrum are feeling that squeeze. While new car sales figures for the last few years have been increasingly impressive, for a significant number of motorists, the monthly payments for a new car simply aren’t affordable, and their decision is to hang on to their existing car and keep it running for as long, and as efficiently, as possible. But even those who purchase new cars can benefit greatly from keeping their cars operating at their peak.

Keeping your car in tip-top running condition


It can be tempting to put off car maintenance tasks, especially when it seems to be running smoothly with no issues. But you should realise that adopting such a cavalier attitude toward keeping your car in optimum condition makes as much sense as the stereotypical attitude toward dentistry, where minor issues are ignored for years, until they become major problems.

Having your car fully serviced at least once a year can save you money, not only by averting the need for major repairs, but in the day-to-day costs of driving as well. Thanks to improvements in automobile technology, we’ve become accustomed to treating our cars like they are immortal appliances, but there are a few things that we really need to look after if we want the car to continue running well and to last as long as possible. Here are a few items you’ll want to attend to.

Tire pressure and condition – Keeping your tires at the recommended pressure can increase your petrol mileage considerably, but many people don’t even think about tire pressure until one goes flat. In addition, maintaining proper pressure will extend the life of the tire by thousands of kilometers by reducing heat build-up. Finally, uneven wear on the treads can be an indication of a mechanical problem that left unattended could cause a breakdown or even a crash.

Changing the oil – Unless your car is old, with many thousands of kilometers on the clock, you should not need to add oil between changes, and really shouldn’t add oil even if it runs a bit low. Merely adding oil serves only to redistribute the filth and metal shavings that are suspended in the lubricant. Draining and refreshing the oil at least as often as the manufacturer’s recommendation will reduce friction in your engine, helping it to run more efficiently while reducing wear and extending its life.

Other items as recommended in the service manual – Manufacturers have a good idea as to how long the components in your car can last, and recommend replacing some of the more critical ones well ahead of their expected failure point. Ignoring those recommendations can prove quite costly. For example, replacing a worn fan belt can save you from having to pay for a tow when the belt breaks and your car dies. And many cars have rubber or Aramid timing belts to keep things humming inside the engine. When one of those fail, the result can be and often is an engine that cannot be repaired. Saving the few hundred pounds it costs to replace the old belt is a lot easier to deal with than having to pay thousands of pounds for a new engine or replacing the whole car. This is one item that new car buyers needn’t be concerned about, since most manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt at 70,000km or more.

Other tips for servicing and maintaining your car can be found on the Money Advice Service charity website, and a familiar, trusted mechanic can help guide you through the most effective and economical steps for keeping your car in shape, whether it is a fresh from the showroom model or a classic that reminds you of the youth you imagine having lived through. In either case, properly maintaining your car will increase the likelihood that it will be around and serving you well for years to come."