Many car owners make the mistake of assuming that they need to replace their vehicles every few years. The average age of a vehicle on the road is about 11 years, but most drivers keep a car for about six years. However, new research by Heritage Car Insurance has found that more than half (52%) of car owners only kept their first car for between 1 to 3 years.
With the cost-of-living crisis, many of us are feeling the pinch, so it might be worth considering keeping your car for longer rather than hastily selling and buying a new one after a couple of years or once your finance is up. Here are the makes and models that are most likely to stand the test of time as a first car, and some practical tips on how to make your car last.
THE CARS PEOPLE KEPT THE LONGEST
According to Heritage’s study, these are the top ten makes people have kept for more than ten years:
- Ford Fiesta – 10%
- Volkswagen Golf – 8%
- Ford Ka – 6%
- Renault Clio – 6%
- Ford Escort – 5%
- Nissan Micra – 3%
- Fiat Punto – 3%
- Vauxhall Corsa – 2%
- Volkswagen Polo – 2%
- Vauxhall Astra – 2%
“Ford may top the list of cars people keep the longest, purely because they’re known for being reliable,” says Andy McDonald, Underwriting Manager at Heritage Insurance Brokers.
“There’s a universal appeal to cars like the Fiesta, and the VW Golf – the styling doesn’t change too heavily with each new edition, so an older model keeps its looks and can be relied upon to put decent mileage in before it needs replacing.”
HOW TO MAKE YOUR CAR LAST?
Heritage says the secret recipe for making your car last is a simple one:
“Get it serviced on time, keep your records, and do the preventative work,” suggests Andy.
“Keeping fluid levels where they should be, changing parts when they wear and not waiting for things to fall apart isn’t rocket science, but many of us don’t make the time for car maintenance unless we enjoy it! With second-hand car resale values in a really positive place at the moment, it’s worth investing to keep your car in good condition so you can make the best of it when you do come to sell.”
Here are the 7 best ways to help your car last for longer:
Don’t forget about oil changes
An automobile’s life is dependent on its oil. It pumps through your engine and keeps it lubricated and cooled. A regular oil change is part of good maintenance, and your owner’s manual will usually tell you when it’s time. You could do some serious damage to your engine if you fail to do this, so check it regularly.
Keep your car hydrated with lots of fluids
By now, you probably know you need to keep yourself hydrated with lots of water, but have you thought about your car? You need to be careful about more than just oil in your car engine. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, and wiper fluid may all need checking in your car; most vehicles have indicator lights that show when these need to be attended to, but you might not have these if your car is older. It is still a good idea to check them (and your owner’s manual) regularly to avoid surprises.
Pay attention to your tyres
When you have faulty tyres, your car’s structural integrity is compromised. When your tyres aren’t properly inflated, not only are you at risk of blowouts, but also, you’re wearing down your tyres unevenly, putting yourself at greater risk for accidents and poor gas mileage. Make sure you measure the inflation level of your tyres, as often times underinflated tyres can appear to be properly inflated.
Check your filters
Your car’s filters are like its lungs. While driving, your vehicle breathes in dirt and dust, which air filters catch to keep the engine running smoothly. However, that’s only one type of filter. Unwanted sediments can also be trapped in oil and fuel filters. In addition to improving fuel efficiency, air filters also reduce emissions and extend the engine’s lifespan. One of the best things about them is that they are relatively inexpensive to replace. Your owner’s manual should be able to advise you when it’s time to change them.
Keep it clean
It may sound obvious, but many people underestimate the value of keeping your car clean. In fact, keeping your car clean will prolong its life. Dirt and grime can turn to rust (particularly in the winter months with salt on the roads). Even though your car has a galvanized body, only a few components in the undercarriage are rust resistant. Furthermore, maintaining the paintwork with regular washes and occasional polish and wax will definitely add to the car’s resale value. The same goes for keeping the interior clean and stain-free.
Drive with care
One of the easiest ways to extend your car’s life span is to drive with care. Driving smoothly, being aware of your surroundings and avoiding potholes, bumps and other road hazards as much as possible can add years onto your car’s life and can give you longer intervals between repairs.
When it’s very hot or very cold outside, avoid driving at high speeds and accelerating quickly. It is likely that such driving behavior will result in more frequent repairs.
Sometimes braking at the last minute is unavoidable, so trying to replace your car’s brake pads every 25,000 miles is a good ballpark figure.
Choose a good car insurer
Unfortunately, accidents still happen, no matter how careful you are. Ensure that your car’s repairs are carried out to the highest possible standard by finding an insurer that pays for parts from the original manufacturer and guarantees the work it authorizes.